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How Living Abroad Pushed me to Become Natural Again by Alex, a hairasidentity.com contributor

As a southern belle growing up in the deep-south in the 80s, relaxing my hair was the cultural norm. Like most little girls in Memphis, I had my first relaxer at age five. My dear sweet mom did not know how to braid or twist my hair so wearing a relaxer was the only option for me. Plus, I have really thick, “kinky hair” and there was no way my mom was going to struggle to press my hair. I clearly remember the skin burns and burnt scalps I got from the hot comb straightening out my “kitchen”.

Going to beauty salon was the solution to my mom’s problems and quickly became our mother-daughter ritual until high school. We enjoyed flipping through the Dudley hair magazines to see the latest trends before our next six weeks touch up. However, the day I left for boarding school in a remote, predominately white town in New Hampshire, my hair took a turn for the worse. Now, I had to survive on my own and learn how to relax and care for my hair. Yikes! My classmates and I played kitchen beautician and did each other’s hair. I am sure we did some hair damage along the way.

My hair journey got better during my college years in New Orleans where I started to experiment with natural hair and did my first big chop. I had just returned from my internship in Connecticut and decided to cut off my hair after being inspired by another intern. One day, I was at home in the bathroom slowly cutting out my braids and was anxious to reunite with the natural hair that I had abandoned since childhood. I was bold and ready to free myself from the bondage of the relaxer.

Being natural was a time of rediscovery and self love. I enjoyed rushing to the mirror to measure my hair monthly. Twists outs, braids, and Bantu knots were my go to hairstyles and I had even tried locking my hair for a brief period. However, my personal natural hair movement came to an immediate halt when I got married and started working for corporate America. I quickly felt pressured to conform to the relaxed hair regime.

However, life took another turn and in 2010 I returned to my natural self. As my husband and I prepared to travel to Honduras with two kids in tow, the first thing that I stressed about was how I was going to do my relaxed hair in Latin America. When you have relaxed hair, finding the right salon is imperative, especially in cities with small black populations. I searched throughout Tegucigalpa where we lived, and finally I found “ a black hair salon”, which was a blessing and a curse. Located deep in the “barrio”/hood of Honduras with lots of reggeton and salsa music, “Maria’s Sala de Belleza” as I shall say, was a black girl’s heaven. It was the one safe place where a black woman could easily get a Dominican blow out without the mean stairs or was refused service for having “cabello malo”, which means bad hair in English as is a racist term. “Maria”, my new found black hair stylist, over- relaxed my hair and did not rinse out all of my Mizani relaxer that I had bought from the United States.

Maria’s lack of running water and poor relaxing skills led to my hair eventually falling out. My hair was weak and my scalp was always burning after a retouch. I should have run for the door as soon as I saw the bucket of water that was used to rinse my hair. I knew better, but was blinded by the fact that “Maria” was a black hair stylist. Wearing braids was the only way to go until my natural hair grew out.

Since then, I have worn my hair natural and will never go back to a relaxer. In developing countries, the salon industry is so unregulated that you do not know who you can trust with chemicals. My frustrations with hair and finding good products on the local market in Honduras led me to form my cosmetic distribution company, Marina Bella Imports. I currently represent four major U.S. brands in the United States, Honduras, and Rwanda: Luster Products, Cortex Professional, and GK Hair, and my own exclusive line of Passion Remy Indian Human Hair. I did not want future women of color to visit salons with bad products and hair stylists. Now that I work in the hair industry, I have learned how to better care for my hair and teach other hair stylist in developing countries how to properly use chemicals.

As for as hair maintenance, I keep it very simple. I wash my hair once a week with GK Hair Professional, Color Protection Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner. I also deep condition my hair with Shea Moisture products. I apply moisturizing lotion and Olive oil daily. I love to twist or roller set my hair too.

I am very pleased with my hair growth. My hair is thick and is pass my shoulders when it is pressed out. I can do various hairstyles and updos. My bangs stretch to the bottom of my nose. Now I am wearing hair color by GK Hair Professional, and thus my hair is still healthy and strong.

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Isis Brantley: Entrepreneur and Trailblazer WINS hairbraiding case

Isis Brantley, an entrepreneur and trailblazer for natural hair

Isis Brantley, an entrepreneur and trailblazer for natural hair (image found on www.blackeconomicdevelopment.com)

I am thrilled that Isis Brantley won her lawsuit and is now able to braid hair without unnecessary government regulation.  I find it deeply troubling that the state of Texas would bring suit against a woman who is doing what Black women have done for centuries: braid the hair of other women in the community.  Are ancient cultural practices protected from government regulations?   Hairbraiders are entrepreneurs and Black women have long used hairbraiding as a path for economic gain, perhaps when they were unable to or chose not to obtain employment in the larger economy.  Since money is involved, must these practices be controlled by the government?  That is a troubling thought.

According to the Institute for Justice website (www.ij.org/case/txbraiding/), the state of Texas began regulating hair braiders in 2007; and, in a seemingly unwise move, subsumed hairbraiding licenses under the state’s barbering regulation.  This decision would have forced Ms. Brantley to install barber chairs, almost double the size of her business and install sinks (ironically, in Texas hair braiders cannot offer services that need sinks).  Additionally, Ms. Brantley would have had to invest up to 750 hours learning to be a barber instructor, and passing exams related to barbering.  Seriously?!  What’s next?  Are we going to force the women who bake and sell cakes for the church to become licensed caterers?

Thanks goodness Ms. Brantley pursued justice.  Not only did the court rule the barbering requirements as unconstitutional for hairbraiding schools (January 2015) but, the legislature fully deregulated natural hairbraiding in Texas (June 2015).

Ms. Brantley, I salute you.  You are a trailblazer for natural hair and for justice.

Sources that discuss Ms. Brantley’s experience:

  1. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/01/08/texas-hair-braiding-instructor-who-fought-licensing-rules-wins-case/
  2. http://ij.org/case/txbraiding/
  3. http://www.blackeconomicdevelopment.com/texas-hair-braiders-win-right-to-open-braiding-schools/
  • Bernice

    Thank you, Ms. Brantley, for yours pursue and winning. Maybe now I can learn the correct way to braid my own hair at your school.

    Thank you, again another pioneer we must salute. Please send some information about your school.

  • Bernice

    Thank you, Ms. Brantley, for yours pursue and winning. Maybe now I can learn the correct way to braid my own hair at your school.

    Thank you, again another pioneer we must salute. Please send some information about your school.

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Veiling: My Own Xenophobic Reactions

As you may know, I study hair as identity and while I typically write about hair itself, there are may other elements that relate to hair, the head and identity. For example, veiling.  I am quite ignorant about this topic but I picked up the book “What is veiling” by Sahar Amer to learn more.  Veiling refers to wearing a length of cloth to cover the head and shoulders and, sometimes, the face (Amer, 2014).  Here are different types of veils:

veils-bbc-news-web-article

I’m going to reveal my own ignorance and say that many times when I see a veiled person (it’s usually a woman that I’ve seen), I immediately think she is either very religious or a very militant Muslim.  Yes, I admit it.  It is xenophobic, I’m not proud of it, but it is the truth.  I hope to always be authentic on this website and I encourage you to do the same.  Two caveats:  1) I’m working on it.  I’m not satisfied with thinking this way so I’m working to get better and have a broader, more inclusive mindset; 2) political correctness may enable us to “tolerate” each other but it will never lead to heart change and true understanding.  See “Rethinking political correctness” by Ely, Meyerson & Davidson (2006, Harvard Business Review).

Post 9/11, the pictures of women donning veils made me feel highly ambivalent.  On one hand, I recognize that many different peoples don veils.  In fact, the veil did not originate with Muslims, it originated in Ancient Mesopotamia in the 13th century BC (Amer, 2014).  Muslims, Jews and Christians alike don(ned) veils.  Apparently, the veil was used to distinguish married, chaste or concubined women from women who were prostitutes or considered morally loose.  It was considered dangerous for a women who should be wearing a veil to go without it or for a woman who shouldn’t be wearing a veil to dare wear it.  But, on the other hand, the media images of Muslim, women extremists, terrorists, donning veils and blowing themselves and others up had been seared into my mind.  It has become an implicit association, meaning a subconscious connection that I now draw between terrorism and the veil.

Can you relate?  Do you make this same implicit association?  Or, are you a Muslim woman who has been subjected to these ignorant associations?  Are you a Muslim woman who prefers not to veil because of the identity implications?  I would love to broach a measured conversation on this topic and explore how veiling impacts identity, especially in the workplace.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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I Lack Hair Confidence by Meredith

I went to the hairdresser two days ago and decided to get highlights in my hair. This was a big step for me as I have always been afraid of change, especially when it comes to my hair. I can still remember when I was a child, every Sunday my mom would wash our hair and blow-dry it. Then she would take my sister and me into the kitchen where she would have a chair sitting next to the stove. She had her little “station” set up on the stove and the countertop. Sulfur 8 hair grease; the hot comb on the stovetop; a plastic comb and a towel; I hated Sundays. My mom would make my sister and I take turns. I usually went first, as my hair wasn’t as “bad” as my sisters. She would put the hot comb on the stovetop, take the Sulfur 8 and rub it around the edges of our hair, and then take that hot comb off the stove and press our edges. This was done between relaxer treatments to make it last longer. I can still feel the heat that the comb gave off, the sound of the sizzle at it came into contact with the grease. My sister’s edges and hair overall was worse than mine, so her session usually took longer. My mom said it was all necessary to get our hair to grow. My mom took great pride in making sure her girls had “good hair”.

Then one summer when my sister and I were off visiting our father in Bermuda (my parent’s split when I was very young and every summer my sister and I went to visit him for 2 months), the unthinkable happened. My mother would always tell us not to let our stepmother cut our hair while we were down there visiting. My stepmother is white, and according to mom, she knew nothing about black hair. It was the summer before my 6th grade year, and one day after coming home from swimming, my stepmother chimes, “we need to get you girls’ hair cut”. I boldly exclaimed, “My mom said for us not to get our hair cut”, to which my stepmother replied, “Well, your mother isn’t here”. The war was on. A couple days later my stepmother was taking us to the salon to make an appointment for both my sister and I to get our hair cut. The appointment was made, but neither my sister nor I could have been prepared for what was in store for us. I remember on the day of the appointment I spent the ride in the car combing my hair out in an effort to make it be seen that my hair didn’t need anything done to it. My plan didn’t work.

Bangs Phase
At the salon, my stepmother spent time looking through magazines to pick out styles for both myself and my sister. The styles that she picked out were for old people, not girls heading into the 6ht and 7th grade (my sister is a year older than me). The style she picked out for me was…an afro. Cut it all off and make is a short fro. No other way to say it. I remember sitting in the chair as this man cut off all of my hair. I was hysterical. I cried as he cut it. I cried sitting under the dryer. I cried as he styled it, I cried and cried and cried for days. I was so upset that even as we went to a barbeque at my aunt’s house days later, I locked myself in my cousin’s bedroom and hid because I felt so ugly. A couple of weeks later when we finally returned back to my mom in NY and she caught the first glimpse of my sister and myself with our “new do’s” you could see the look of furor on her face. All I could say was, “She made us get our hair cut”. To which my mother replied, “That is the last time you will go to Bermuda”.

I remember my mom getting on the phone and giving my stepmother a verbal ass-chewing about our hair and her “role” in our lives. Nonetheless the damage was done. My sister and I were to start school in a week with afros. My 6th grade year was horrible. I was ridiculed by my classmates. They used to sing “afros in the house” whenever they saw me. I was teased, they drew pictures of me and my hairdo, and they even threw rocks at me while I was walking home from school. By the end of the school year, my hair grew out enough so that my afro became a short bob. But this incident really defined how I viewed my hair and how I feel like my hair defined me.

After that year, I became very protective of my hair. I went through a period where I refused to get my hair cut. I needed my hair to be long enough to be able to pull back into a pony tail. Even getting my hair trimmed was a process for me. I would watch the hairdresser like a hawk to make sure he or she wasn’t taking too much off. To this day, I still have that problem. If I go to the hairdresser, I will only ask for a trim. I refuse to get layers because heaven forbid the layers are too short for a ponytail. I won’t do bangs for the same reason, plus I never know what to do with them during that awkward growing-out period. I have found that I lack “hair confidence”. It may sound crazy, but it’s true. I don’t feel confident in myself without having longer hair. I don’t feel like I can be sexy to a man, or be able to impress an employer with short hair. My hair defines my confidence and my life.

I am turning 35 years old in less than two weeks and I am afraid of my hair. My highlights came out great and I am surprised at myself for being bold enough to put my faith in my hairdresser to make that change, but I still couldn’t bring myself to get more than a trim. My hair is still long enough to pull back into a ponytail. It’s still one length, with no layers. To me, that incident of having the afro back in the 6th grade made me feel that short hair is ugly. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many women who can rock a short do, and I applaud them and are envious of them as for me it makes me think that they have a confidence that I will never know. But for me, I could never do it and still feel pretty or confident, because of my prior experience. I don’t know if I will ever get over that experience or know that “hair confidence”. I think I will always need to have my shoulder length or longer hair.

New hairdo 2014

  • Laquita

    Thanks for being brave to share your experience. No doubt, other women went through a similar experience.

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Watch Tina’s Television Interview!!!

I was recently interviewed by Emily Rooney on the WGBH Boston show “Greater Boston” about the army’s ban on particular hairstyles.  Here’s a link to the show:  Tina’s WGBH interview. Please let me know what you think!

Now, for a litle bit of trivia.  Who is this?

gene anthony ray fame newspaper report 1983

Post your answers in the comments section before you watch the video!

Once you watch the video, you’ll understand why this particular image is in this post!!!!  

  • Erica Addison

    Leroy!!!!

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naiga girls: (un)imaginable by verta ayanna

 


verta ayanna- bring_back_our_girls_2014_37my heart stopped when i first learned of the 234 young girls kidnapped on april 14, 2014 by boko haram, a militant Islamist group in Nigeria whose name literally means “western education is forbidden.” i felt helpless. i felt–
i could not even imagine. i find myself using that saying all too often when i hear of atrocities in the world, especially those that involve children. when a gunman kills innocent children on our city streets, i automatically think, i could not even imagine. when beautiful black boys are stolen from their homes in the darkness of night to become soldiers in wars they cannot even understand, i have thought,  i could not even imagine. after 234 girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria and now more than 20 days later the only ones reported found are those who escaped, i think to myself, i could not even imagine

could i really not imagine? this saying  has caused me pause since hearing of the young girls abducted by boko haram in Nigeria. i realized there are parts of these things i can imagine. i am a human being. i am a mother. i have witnessed fear. as my daughter sat crying amidst shatters glass on the roof of our overturned car after a near fatal car accident, i saw fear in her eyes. as i lay on the side of the road. my blood all around us. the scent undoubtedly picked up by the wild animals in the gaming park, i heard my son’s fear. “will someone come and get us?” he asked. when the Beninios doctor saw my file days later and asked, very nonchalantly i must add, “combien de morts? how many died?” i felt fear and imagined far worse. i cried as i imagined what could have been on the side of that dirt road in august of 2011.

not wanting to imagine and not being able to imagine are two very different things.  so, i can imagine. and i believe that others can too. even if only for a moment, we can imagine fear. we have all experienced it on some level. recall your own or that of a loved one at some moment in time. multiply that fear by all the stars in the universe and we may each get just a few heartbeats closer to what just one girl may have felt as armed men came to steal her away from what she only seconds before considered a safe place. take a moment to simply recall your humanity and you will be able to imagine, even if just for one thousandth of a second, the fear and anguish of just one parent of just one abducted girl.

what is unimaginable is that it’s been over 20 days and the only girls reported found were those who escaped. what is unimaginable is that in a world with the technology to witness my every keystroke remotely and locate me right now on this city block in harlem from outer space we have not rescued one girl. what is unimaginable is that until a few days ago we could not find space in the mass media next to the racist rants of a billionaire basketball team owner to report regularly and consistently about these girls literally stolen from their school. what is unimaginable is that in 2014 we have to use grassroots measures to allow the world to be informed and bear witness to this disregard for human life. what is unimaginable is to dwell in helplessness when the truth will always remain that our mere existence, each and everyone of ours, is an opportunity to act. to act with love and to act loudly if we must.

In verta’s next post, she shares some specific actions you can take to make a difference.


Verta Maloneyverta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! her purpose in this life is to love out loud, to live on purpose, to laugh a whole bunch, to create, to share stories, to inspire others, to make a difference and to leave the world better than she found her. verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at www.vertaayanna.com.

 

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SBD Days: Some Days All You Got to Do Is Stay Black, and…. by Petra E. Lewis

Kevin Ryan Headshot - ColorIn Black America, at some point the following is almost a universal scenario: Someone will tell someone else they “have” to or “need” to ________ [INSERT BLANK DIRECTIVE]. And that person will sassily reply (tone of voice the equivalent of hands akimbo, and sometimes hands actually akimbo): “All I got to do is stay Black and die!”

This for me is the genesis of SBD Days: ones that are obligation free.  I’m one of those people who works (hard) constantly, my ambition almost a flaw. And when SBD Days come, they come vengefully and unapologetically: I sip hot chocolate and catch up on literature. Cruise the web and LOL (the stupider the post, article, or video, the better). I have no desire to see significant others—that, after all, would be an obligation—an obligation–when all I got to do is stay Black and…. Well, you know.

Kevin Ryan Headshot _ B+W

SBD Days are lovely, lazy things when I allow myself to luxuriate in sloth, and contribute to the unraveling fibers of American society by ignoring the Protestant Work Ethic. Curiously, I don’t have SBD Days when I’m on deadline. Why? Simple: Mama didn’t raise no fool–plus I carefully guard my professional reputation.  SBD Days that fall on client deadlines are greeted with tough self-love—and a big stick. Hot chocolate and lethargically scrolling through hipster posts on Guest of a Guest’s Facebook page do not pay the bills.

However, SBD Days do sass and trash hair rituals. Due for a wash, a detangle, a deep condition? What? (Suck teeth.) All I got to do is stay Black and…. Well, you know. And guess what? My hair is just fine. I even get compliments. Race is irrelevant. Everyone deserves at least one SBD Day in their lives. Just become courageous enough to be selfish and put your peace and sanity above all else.

P.S. I was supposed to scribe this post two months ago, but I decided: All I got to do is stay Black and…. Well, you know.


Petra E. Lewis is a writer, author, entrepreneur, Tastemaker, and Synergist who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The first novel in her trilogy, The Sons and Daughters of Ham, Book I: A Requiem debuts February 2014, www.hamnovels.com : : @tastemistressp : :  http://on.fb.me/1fUwRNo https://twitter.com/TastemistressP

  • verta

    yes. yes. yes. we all need SBD days!!!

  • Petra

    LOL, Verta–yes, we do! BTW: I greatly enjoyed your first-ever post for HAI.#greatstuff

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i love chimamanda – by verta ayanna

i have a serious crush on this chimamanda ngozi adichie. she is feminine and feminist.  she is strong and vulnerable. she is humble and brazen. she is beautiful and Nigerian and brilliantly talented. she is regal; from the top of her beautifully styled head to the tips of her stylishly outfitted toes.  she uses words in the ways i hope to. chimamanda and her heroine in Americanah, ifemelu, came to me when i needed them most. when i needed to see myself in this world and be more fearless sharing myself with this world. when i needed to be reminded that the human experience is not reserved for a select few in literature. there is space and a need for all of us.

Chimamanda Adichie

chimamanda and ifemelu came to remind me of all the characters and books and people that are a part of me; that define me. when obinze’s mother treats ifemelu as her own, telling her “I was once young. I know what it is like to love while young … you can love without making love.  It is a beautiful way of showing your feelings but it brings responsibility, great responsibility, and there is no rush…wait until you own yourself a little more;” it is just as i imagine my own mother would have told me, had she the words and wisdom to do so. this moment and so many more in Americanah touched me deeply. they take their rightful place next to my own memories of my grannie teaching me, and me alone, to eat avocados from their skin with a dash of salt. teaching me to savor what is given, as it is given. these moments, these remembrances, are tucked away for safe keeping; for times i need to be fortified when the world drains me.  i am grateful to chimamanda and ifemelu because when i needed confirmation that love always wins — when we let it — they came to me.

i feel sad when a book i have loved is coming to an end.  i feel sad when time spent savoring the ones that i love is coming to an end. while i am more skillfully present in life than i once was, there are moments when i find myself dwelling momentarily  in the future. considering that in just a few hours these characters, real and fictional and real, will only be a part of my memory. i will no longer see them unfold themselves before me nor will i be able to hold them near and smell the scent of creation on them. i fall in love with books and people often but not easily. i am cautious and selective about what and who i let into my heart.  i breathe people and books in deeply when they are great and admittedly even when they are not so great. i do this so that i will remember. so that i can recall their truth. great books like great people hold truths. we never know which truths will be revealed. once the revelation begins, i long to hold them with me, in the present, for a while longer. at that very moment, i find that it is with greater speed that they start to take flight forcing me to let go. this act of repeatedly letting go allows me to recall that truths once revealed remain. they stain our souls.

a few months ago on facebook, i was asked for my list of ten from a friend.  ten books that have influenced and shaped me.  ten books that caused me sadness when they came to end. ten books that have left their indelible and brilliant stain on my soul. i cheated.  it was too hard to come up with just ten.  here is my list in the order i recall them becoming a part of me:

the orginal facebook list (yes, there are twelve):

the ones i remembered immediately after i posted the facebook list:

the ones i have read after age 40 that i must include:

and the book that prompted this post:


Verta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at www.vertaayanna.com.
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Straight hair for holidays?

According to Merriam-Webster, a “holiday” is a day of celebration when most people do not have to work.  Thus, holidays are a particular time when people may construct special hairstyles to fully embrace the festivities.  Further, hairstyles also convey that the wearer is special because she (or her mother) has taken extra time to create a highly polished, intricate style.  As a little girl, I remember getting my hair “done” for holidays.  Typically, that meant I’d get my hair straightened.

Original image by Bob Croslin from Tampa Bay Times (Combing through memories (4/14/06) by Nicole Johnson)

As I grew older, it meant that I would get my hair relaxed.  I’ve learned that this pattern of straightening on holidays is not atypical…many women I know practice the same hair ritual. What do you all think about this hair ritual?  How does it affect girls and women?

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Love Out Loud: A Series by verta ayanna

Verta Maloney

Mommy! My friend said my hair is not soft.

Mommy! My friend said my hair is puffy.

Mommy! My friend said my hair is not straight.

My heart unraveled into a thousand fragile strands that day as my daughter told me what her friend had said. She was hurt. Not solely because of what her friend said but more precisely how she said it. A nuance not missed by my intuitive young daughter. I took a deep breath. I chose my words with care. “Your hair is soft,” I told her as we touched it. “Your hair is not straight, but it could be,” I told her as we looked at pictures of all the amazing and stunning ways black girls and women could wear our hair. “Your hair is puffy sometimes and sometimes flat and other times wild and magnificently crazy,” I told her as I tried to make her smile. “We have options little love!” I proclaimed.

After all this conversation, after all this focus on the words I chose, I began to realize that my four-year-old daughter was becoming slightly obsessed with long, silky, straight hair. My four-year-old daughter, whose mother had a fierce and powerful ceasar in college. My four-year-old daughter, whose mother rocked the hell out of some box braids back in the day. Though I told her that I loved her hair so very much and so should she. She was not convinced. I could see it in her eyes. Oh the things I can see in her eyes. Eyes that were fixed on my ever-so-fly, short, straight, relaxed, silky, precision cut done to perfection every six weeks in Brooklyn. Another nuance that could not have gone unnoticed by my ever-watchful little girl. I became fully aware that what I said was less important than what I needed to do.

Hair does not frighten me any more. It used to. I once feared what others would think, what others wouldn’t think. There was a time I feared the way I chose to wear my hair would mean I didn’t love myself enough or loved being black too much. I used to fear that how I chose to wear my hair made me more feminine, more attractive or at times too masculine, too strong and less attractive. It took years of trying on different hairstyles, before I could finally embrace the different versions of myself. Hair can be the outward expression of the fears, hopes, dreams, beauty and love that we, as women, have within us. We get to decide which, depending on the day. As mothers, we get to decide which we pass on to our daughters.

What I did next shocked my girl (and my boy) in a profound way. On a hot Saturday in July, I chose to share my love for her in the loudest way I knew how. I know and understand that there are no silent expressions of love. I cut my hair off. I did it for Simone. As she looked at me, eyes wide, with the hint of that smile I adore on her perfect little mouth, “I want hair just like yours,” I said. “So beautiful and so perfect.” Forgetting how much I love teeny-weeny afros, I also promised to grow it out just like hers. That was a mistake. I have no patience for things like that anymore. For weeks she would proudly and loudly tell people, “My mommy cut all her hair off because she wants it to be like mine. That’s going to take her a looong time!”  She has a good sense of humor that one.

I do know for sure I did something that day, in that moment, to help give her a stronger sense of self. Today she is a seven-year-old girl who gets inspiration from strawberry shortcake and has me twist pink and green strands into her two-strand twists one day. Today she is a seven-year-old girl who will rock her twist out until it is black uhuru locked and tell me when I try to tame it, “Mommy, I don’t care, I love my hair when it’s all wild and crazy!” Today she is a seven-year-old girl who has rocked a long straight do for about 18 hours or so because children can’t help but play and sweat out the best of intentions on yet another day. Today I do know for sure that for right now, in this moment, my girl fearlessly loves the skin and hair she is in and she is doing so in the loudest ways she can.


Verta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at www.vertaayanna.com.
  • Tina

    Hi Verta! I just looked at your piece again and I really love it!

  • verta ayanna

    thanks Petra! thanks Tina. that means so much to me. thanks so much for the opportunity to share my voice :-)

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