Thursday, June 11, 2015

Natural Hair Envy

original traced doodle with didlr
I'm on the shuttle, sitting behind this girl whose natural hair is artfully pulled up, pinned into a puff. The edges at the nape of her neck lay relatively flat--beautifully tamed-- and I assume the same is true in the front. From the light of the sun, I can see the dark brown at the ends. Her hair is wispy, like loosened raw cotton or clouds, and it becomes desired in my mind. It looks softer than mine, so it must be. I shrug as I think how I would like to have her hair. If only because it would be easier to manage. Easier to stretch, easier to manipulate and style. 

I think it's easy to confuse manageability with quality. Hair with a looser curl pattern that falls is not inherently better than hair with tiny zig zags that stands up and out. But with the hair typing system and the majority of natural hair representation in a lot of media subtly imposes the idea that a certain "grade of hair" (as Raven Symone would call it) is more aesthetically accepted, more "classically beautiful." The thing is, manageability can be learned. Everyone has to adapt to the features and conditions each is born with. With the luck of the draw, some people may have one aspect of their lives easier than another person. It's not bad and fairness plays no role; it's just the way it is.

As soon as I coveted this girl's hair, I considered whether I had a warped view of what good hair is (but bottomline, good hair is always healthy hair). I questioned why I would, in an impossible scenario, want someone else's hair texture. Reading the natural hair stories of others, some women expressed feeling quite disappointed when, after the big chop or the transitioning phase, their hair did not resemble that of Tracee Ellis Ross or Teyonah Parris or some other fabulous-looking famous or real-life woman. When I cut out my relaxed ends four years ago, I knew to pack away the fantasies I had had. I knew that my hair would be whatever it was meant to be, which is mine and nobody else's.  I generally accept my hair, it's magical (and frustrating) shrinking ability, its texture, and its length. I like it most days, love it some days, and hate it every other day.*

Not really wanting to repeat advice that already exists in a million places on the Internet, I will only say this about natural hair envy and acceptance: admire others, but also admire yourself. To admire yourself, you have to learn how to look and be your best (and I'm still learning, especially about hair...very slowly). Obviously this goes deeper than hair and other expressions of outer beauty. Because jealousy is not cute. Gush over so and so, but also work with what you got. 

Happy Thursday!

*I kid. Or do I? Nah...

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