As a mother whose daughter attends a predominately white school, I knew one day when she was older, I would be faced with the question hidden inside a rather telling statement: “Mom, I want my hair to be straight like my friends. Why is my hair so big and poofy? I don’t like it poofy.”
And so it begins . . .
I realize sharing this may paint me as a villainous mother who hasn’t consciously shared with her daughter, and son for that matter, the amazeness they were born into as African Americans. That assertion would be erroneous. Despite my best efforts, from womb till now, I’ve shared the greatness of their heritage reflected in their names and discussed at many an occasion, sometimes daily, much to their annoyance. The fact that we are different isn’t something to be eschewed, but embraced.
My daughter’s question, asked in her middle school years, marks a major difference between us. You see, it was never possible for me to ask my mother such a question because at age seven, my mother took me to Contessa Beauty Salon on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn (yes, I recall the spot) for my first relaxer that would tame my “unruly” hair. For my teenage years up until my thirties, I would willingly subject myself to regular touch-ups to maintain this “relaxed” state.
In spite of this religious eight-week practice, I oftentimes recall staring in wonderment at the texture of my hair as it grew at the root. I liked what I saw, but I didn’t know any better at time in terms of what to do and, more importantly, how to care for it; YouTube wasn’t around and sisters rocking medium length or long naturals weren’t commonplace. So I got my touch-ups and would immediately head over to Khamit Kinks or some other salon, plop myself in the chair at the appointed time and hours later walk out rocking goddess braids, cornrows, box braids, Trini braids, or Senegalese twists. These were my college styles, but for Corporate America maintaining a “professional coiffure” with sleek straight hair complements of a relaxer, wig or weave was my norm. My how times have change and it is truly a beautiful thing!
My contribution to Black Hair Kitchen (BHK) in the Natural Hair section will focus primarily on styling children’s hair, what I currently do and have done for almost thirteen years. Some of you will want to kick my butt when I share one thing I knew I shouldn’t do, said I would never do, but did any way. I will post pictures of my little one on her journey to loving all of who she is, what she represents and will one day become—a strong woman of African descent.
Miss Nia Imani asked I also take this opportunity to share with you that she now loves the versatility her hair allows her to express. The styling options are endless. My current task is keeping her hands out of her hair, so she’s currently rocking box braids in a ponytail. I’m hoping to get two more weeks out of this style, but I know That. Will. Never. Happen.
Psst, in one of the photos in the collage below, I caved and gave my daughter’s natural, lovely, thick head of hair a texturizer. Are you cussing me out right now? I can hear you. Here are my little ones, although not so little anymore, yet still my babies: