“Uhhh, Why Did You Do THAT To Your Hair????”

(Before w/weave) (1st month natural) (4-5months into loc journey)

I’ve heard this question so many times already, in many different variations. Sometimes it can be irritating and other times I welcome the inquisitiveness of others. Mainly, when older people…family, friends, foes, whomever….. ask with disapproval “What made you wanna do that?”. As if there is something wrong with not putting chemicals in your hair, not straightening your hair, not putting artificial hair in your head. My response is to smile and say “because this is who I REALLY am”. Eventually it grew on them and they now love it too, or decide not to share their disapproval. Other times sistahs who aren’t ready for the natural hair change or who already are, ask with genuine sincerity. Again my answer is because I wanted to see me when I looked in the mirror and learn to find beauty in it.
Their questions led me to dig a little deeper to find out “who dropped the ball”! Which generation told us that our hair was unacceptable and how did it perpetuate for years throughout black culture. How did it all start?? Why did our grandparents buy into it and teach us to think the same way?
I know these questions are generalizations and I’m sure that there were plenty of families that have taught their little colored kids to love/appreciate/respect their hair and themselves, but the vast majority of us were told that we needed to straighten our hair. I remember my first perm…it was HORROR!!! My grandfather’s ex wife looked at my full head of natural hair with disgust and at the age of 12, sat me down and put a perm in my hair WITHOUT my mother’s approval. It was pure Hell. It burned, it stung, she was abusing every follicle on my head each time she combed it. My hair was just past my ear and super thick, so all my tender-headed folks can understand my nightmare. When I got home, my momma was pissed! She did not intend on perming my hair…at least not that soon. It didn’t take long for my hair to start breaking off and coming out, from that point on my hair was never ever what it was before that woman killed it.
Our generation has just about anything & everything to get that hair “right”, we have pressin’combs, perms (no-lye), ceramic irons, hair weaves, synthetic braids, texturizers….the list goes on and on. Now, this is in no offensive to the trailblazers like Madame CJ Walker who opened the door for us in the beauty/hair care industry but it is a bit disheartening that we couldn’t have found ways back then to manage our hair in its natural state without altering it to appear to the masses.
So now we have to face those folks who are still living in the era of Madame CJ, our grandparents, aunties, uncles, mommas, papas and people of both previous and current generations who still believe that our hair is unacceptable. I don’t think it should be taken as personally as we take it and I don’t believe they are intentionally being offensive. Its just like rude children, it’s not their fault that they were taught to believe/behave in such a way. As we educate ourselves, it is our responsibility to educate others and not condemn them for their hair decisions. Especially those, like I was just a year ago, at a crossroad trying to determine if the natural route was for me or not. All I needed was little encouragement and a little knowledge on how to maintain a cute natural style while keeping my hair healthy! :-)
“Why did you decide to go natural?” It was not a revolutionary movement, I am not making a statement against society, I didn’t intend on starting a follicle frenzy at work, The earth didn’t shake and God himself didn’t part the heavens to send me on a journey to loc’dom…It was merely a introverted decision for self-acceptance.

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