Speaking Of Nappy Hair
We have received several positive comments on Lucius Gantt’s recent article entitled “If White Folks Could Cut Nappy Hair” (October 17 Issue), which is the inspiration for this commentary.
For those who may not have seen me in recent months, I took a plunge months ago, and paid LaTanya, a local cosmetologist, a total of $10.00 to cut off every one of my shoulder-length curls, vowing that I will go to my grave wearing my hair the way God gave it to me … NAPPY.— tired of living the lie; tired of striving and paying to conform to other folk’s expectations of what I ought to look like; and tired of the lame argument many African Americans are now accepting, that corporate America considers certain black hair styles, to be “political”. [Interpretation: “The more white you make yourself look, the less political you are.”] —
By the way, last August (2007) a group of women lawyers in Chicago invited an editor from Glamour magazine to their law firm to talk about “The Dos & Don’ts of Corporate Fashion.” Well, as the story goes, it was a black woman sporting a ‘fro who presented the editor to the group of 40-or-so women lawyers, ten of whom were black. The editor then comes with the following comment: “As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was “shocking” that some people still think it “appropriate” to wear those hairstyles at the office. “No offense,” she sniffed, but those “political” hairstyles really have to go.”
Can you imagine the disdain that seized some of these lawyers – especially the 10 or so Black women there? “It was like she was saying you shouldn’t go out with your natural hair, and if you do, you’re making a political statement,” said one Black associate of the firm. “It showed a general cluelessness about black women and their hair.”
Moreover, can you imagine the hell Glamour Magazine caught after her visit?
That’s what I’m talking about…
First, I know who I am, so I have no point to prove to anybody. I am a well-educated, professional black woman, and I have paid my dues to be who I am, without having to masquerade as something I’m not… I’m not white; I don’t have either straight or curly hair, and at this stage in my life, I can’t afford expensive chemical treatments, or beauty salons, so I refuse to continue to try to jump through hoops to live up to somebody else’s expectations of what I should look like.
In the word of India Arie, “I am not my hair!” And my hair does NOT define who I am.
No more “fried, died and laid to the side” for me.
As my coarsely textured thick virgin hair grows in, I have enjoyed running my fingers through it, and loving the feel of renewed health, strength and vitality in my natural, non-chemically treated hair.
I enjoy playing with my hair, often pulling a strand away from my head, only to have it spring back into conformity with its natural spiral coutour… and shopping for giant sturdy rubber combs with extra-large teeth, made especially for my kind of hair, that firmly but gently detangle and unknot my hair, and help it neatly caress my head and face.
Equally enjoyable is the hunt for just the right hard bristled brush, rigid enough to massage my scalp but gentle enough not to wreck havoc on the coarse thicket that graces my head and protects it from extremes of weather. And the occasional massage with petroleum products, (those mama used to use on my hair) that add moisture, glow, and a clean smell to a freshly washed head of nappy hair. (‘member when black folks used to be shamed of the word “nappy” and white folks didn’t even know what it meant?)
While my virgin hair grows in, I am also thinking about a new look … one that will be totally natural and care-free. If I choose to braid it, my braids will be natural. NO extensions. Or, I may opt to loc it. Again, NO extensions, or chemical processes. From the day I made the decision to cut my hair I also decided to revive that pride that many of us have somehow lost, in who I am and the true nature of the crowning glory God blessed me with, which complements my deep brown eyes, and mocha-mahogany skin tone.
Bottom line: I love my hair… just the way God gave it to me. Don’t “dis” me because I’m equally as comfortable with my black features, as anybody else is with theirs. Don’t call me “radical” because I reject the artificial.
It’s about being exactly who and what I am… Just the way God made me. Nothing more. Nothing less. You don’t like it? — You’re the one with the problem. Not me.