Hair envy

I was trolling through my Reader and I came across this article at the Black Snob. I enjoy Danielle’s writing — whether she’s talking politics, pop culture or hair.

Danielle’s experience with hair was definitely not my experience growing up. I was a dark brown girl with relaxed hair that wasn’t saying much. I also had a host of self-esteem issues to deal with — that is for another blog. During my younger years, I do remember envying some of the Black girls at my school who had beautiful relaxed hair. I tried, my mom tried to get my hair to grow to long lengths, but it just didn’t work. Something about the frigid Quebec air and the lack of knowledge to grow Black hair in that climate. My mom was born and raised in Barbados and knew how to deal with hair there. In Canada? In winter?

LOL! She tried her best.

I do remember envying my white classmates who never seemed to have any trouble with their hair. They could cut it today and by Christmas it was long enough for a ponytail. As far as I was concerned, Black girls did NOT cut their hair — that was sacrilege! I remember the Black guys in my school swooning over the white girls with long hair and insulting me in the cafeteria.

Did I mention I had self-esteem issues? LOL! Thank God high school is only a moment in time.

As I got older, I thought — wrongly — that my hair wasn’t meant to be long and I was going to enjoy it and make sure it looked its best short or in braids. Thankfully, I realized, after wearing braids for a year, my hair was not meant to be short. It just liked to be cared for and protected from the elements.

So many times as I walk through the mall or wait for the train, I see Black women and girls who need someone to show them how to care for their hair. No, I may never hair waist length hair, but I can have healthy, strong, beautiful hair — something that many of these women and girls are lacking.

Oh, I don’t just mean people with relaxed hair. I’m talking natural and relaxed. I just want to pull her aside and ask her what she’s been doing. Maybe recommend a product or a technique. Reinforce her beauty and confidence… but, if I’m honest, I’m scared! Hair is a sensitive thing among women. It’s one thing for me to chat with my girlfriends or someone online who has sought me out, but a random person?

I wish I could. I would prefer that no woman or girl ever envy anyone’s hair or skin or size or lips or nose or whatever, but work what the Lord gave ’em.

Anyway, I don’t know if these thoughts are cohesive. They were rolling around my head after reading the article. What do you think?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nikkele says:

    Timely post. In church last night we talked about embracing our uniqueness and not desiring to be like anyone other than ourselves as we’re made the way we are for His reasons.
    In the black community hair is a big deal. It is not just hair to us but it is a culture. Hair envy has probably been around since the first strand, lol, and it is so bad that people will go to great lengths to risk damaging their own hair in order to achieve a certain look.
    I never had hair issues growing up as I always had long hair and figured if I cut it, it’d grow back. My struggle has always been deciding what styles would flatter me most. I love the short do’s but the constant relaxing is not good on the hair and scalp. Wearing my hair long makes me look like a teenager. Mid length styles, well, I don’t like!
    I know what you mean about going up to a stranger and giving them hair tips but I’ve seen a lot of naturals that are in need of some. I get approached quite a bit about what products I use, so it may be a good idea for you to create a business card promoting your blog. That way when you see a natural, instead of taking the risk of them being offended by an offer to genuine advice, you could just say “Hey, I’m natural, you’re natural, here’s a way to connect and exchange tips.” Well, something like that!
    Now I just wrote a mini blog on your page! Sorry. This was very good reading so I couldn’t help myself!

  2. This story sounds very much like my own, just change the location to New York City. My hair was always short. My mom would just make 6 braids on my head and curl them under-style done!! needless to say I didn’t get even a quarter of the attention the long haired gals got. Through school it was pretty much the same, till I got to high school. I got my beloved short cut and I learned how to rock it. Even so, through the years, the health of my hair was not where it should have been, or could have been. Going natural has showed me that I can feel comfortable in my own skin, and I don’t have to feel any envy of someone else’s hair. It’s been a very freeing experience!!

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