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First Family Encounter with Longer Afro

As our RV rumbled to a stop in front of my parent’s beautifully landscaped yard, I wondered how my Mom would react to my several inch long twist-out (Dad cares but he’s not likely to verbalize his thoughts). I double-checked my hair and makeup and then bounded out of the vehicle. Some of you may not know that my Mom and I are very close. I call her at least once a day and we have grown to be friends. You know, girlfriends who can tell each other the truth in love. So, I knew that if she thought my hair looked jacked up she was going to let me know it.

As our RV rumbled to a stop in front of my parent’s beautifully landscaped yard, I wondered how my Mom would react to my several inch long twist-out (Dad cares but he’s not likely to verbalize his thoughts). I double-checked my hair and makeup and then bounded out of the vehicle. Some of you may not know that my Mom and I are very close. I call her at least once a day and we have grown to be friends. You know, girlfriends who can tell each other the truth in love. So, I knew that if she thought my hair looked jacked up she was going to let me know it.

My beautiful Mother stepped outside and, with open arms, gave me a long overdue hug. “T, you look beauuuuutttiiiiifullllll!”. What?! Is that it? It’s that easy? My Mom looked at my neat twist out and fawned over me. It was blissful. (I just realized that I didn’t take a single pic of my hair at my Mom’s house…I am the family photographer. However, today’s pic was from the RV trip and shows the twist-out). Even better? My Mom told me that my hair motivated her to think about going natural again. She’s not there yet, but I’m so grateful that my natural journey is having a positive influence on the woman I love the most in the whole world. Yeahhhh Team Natural! :)


Mommy was a fan of the twist out

P.S.: In contrast, my Mom was NOT a fan of my chunky twist-out. I emailed her the below pic. Her response, “T, I prefer the other style. That style better framed your face.” Spoken like a true friend. The thing is, I loved the style so I’m sure that I’ll wear it again BUT I will always value the input of my loved ones. It’s funny, I didn’t realize that one benefit of my natural journey would be enhanced courage to firmly stand on my own two independent feet and not buckle when others don’t like something I’m trying.


Mommy was not a fan of the CHUNKY twist out BUT I love it! :)

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My Family Not Feeling My Natural Do

I had agita in my stomach as I drove back home to my parent’s house in Alexandria, Virginia. I was home for Winter Break between my first and second year getting my MBA at the Darden School of Business. Oh my goodness, how was my family going to respond to my new hair?

Most of my formative years were spent in Alexandria, Virginia and I grew up on a FABULOUSLY SUPPORTIVE street. There were Black doctors, lawyers, teachers, principals, military personnel and they all took an interest in us young folks. We could rip and run up and down the street and bust into and out of each other’s houses. Whew, those were some FUN days. As I drove down the street with my newly shorn hair, I realized that I now felt a bit like an outsider. I could not recall one person who wore a short, teeny weeny afro (TWA) I like I had. I did not want to be perceived as the good girl who went off to school and came back a militant, crazy Black woman. After all, those were the people who wore this hairstyle right? Seriously, some people looked at me and wondered aloud why I’d do something so drastic, cut off my pretty hair. Didn’t I know that I had nappy, coarse hair? Why would I do that? Perhaps I should consider getting a texturizer? These questions all came from people I knew and loved, people who were close to me.

It hit me. This cultural norm of wearing long, relaxed hair is deeply imbedded in Black society and has been for DECADES, almost a century in the United States! That helped to explain why the women around me were resisting my change to natural hair. It was almost like I was doing something wrong. Betraying some secret sister commitment. Where did these attitudes come from? The following 1928 ad for Hi-Ja (a “hair fix” product) is from the Chicago Defender (click to enlarge). The ad illustrates some of the complexities associated with beauty.

My grandmother, and her mother and my mother, may have grown up with images like this, images that depict “long, wavy” and “straight” hair as “charming” and the alternative as “short and ugly”. Oh my goodness!!!! Oh my goodness!!! Furthermore, you BETTER change your nappy hair or you might lose your man. WOW! I’m going to need a minute to reflect on this.

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