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Unbound

When I wore a natural at my consulting job, I was on a covert cosmetic mission (the image in my mind is making me crack up): keep the naps out of sight at all cost! I want to reflect on a comment I made yesterday about my constant attempts to make my natural hair more palatable to others: “What a waste of time and energy! Given that other women have confided in me that they’ve also engaged in such activities, I can only imagine the loss of mental energy and productivity in the workplace. When people feel that they have to constantly strive to attain an image that is not naturally attainable, such striving cannot lead to their best performance at work or in life.” Strive. That is a perfect word to describe how I related to my hair. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strive), strive means: 1) to devote serious effort or energy, and 2) to struggle in opposition and the word originates from Middle English to quarrel, contend, fight and is similar to the word “strife”. WOW!!!!

I was in a constant process of looking in the mirror, groaning and then doing whatever I could to fight my hair’s natural tendencies. I kept trying to get my hair to comply. Bind it up. At some point, I realized that my striving was futile. If I wanted to wear natural hair, I had to learn how to work with it and stop fighting against it. This poem by Sharon Harvey Rosenberg (http://www.endarkenment.com/hair/poetry/rosenberg/unbound.htm) captures this sentiment.

Unbound

by Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

Knotting:

My unbound hair turns

on itself, coiling

into single-strand

knots and tangles.

Annoyed:

I separate

and snip

the locking loops.

Sighing:

There were no knots

when my kinks were

straightened

smoothed

hair

hanging

limp

lifeless

like

nooses

from trees.

But I’m Unbound:

and thanking God

For napping,

Knots.

Image found at: http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/conferencecenters/unbound%20logo.jpg

  • Makeup by Sherry Blossom

    Awesome poem! Keep striving!! :) Sherry Blossom of sherryblossombeauty.com Freelance MUA in NY, beauty blogger, youtube and newly natural 3/20/11 (im blogging about my journey as well!)

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Strong Hair

In an earlier blog, I wrote:“Looking back, I have to ask myself why I thought an afro was the antithesis of femininity.I admit that while I loved the freedom of my afro, I still felt like I HAD to wear nice makeup, and cute jewelry whenever I went out in public.In other words, my hair was not cute on its own merit; I now had to be accessorized in order to look feminine and pulled together.Ouch.This is painful to admit and see in writing.”

This is disturbing to read. It is so clear that I’d bought into the prevailing beauty standards about my hair and about me.I had yet to learn how to appreciate the strength of my hair.I found this poem by Sharon Harvey Rosenberg that beautifully depicts the strength and resilience of tightly coiled hair (http://www.endarkenment.com/hair/poetry/rosenberg/coilcomb.htm).I plan to read it to my children and my nieces tonight.I hope you can share with those you know too.

Coil vs. Combby Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

Tight curls

wound like small coils

in a retractable pen

have no patience

for hard plastic combs

with jagged seams

and sharp teeth

biting

through the dense spirals

spinning

around my head.

Snapped, my naps snap back.

Tugged,

the tight texture tenses

against those little teeth.

And with vengeance,

my hair

breaks combs

into plastic

pieces.

And the coils spring back.

Like the spring in my pen

held in knowing fingers,

twisting strands of lines.

Forming follicle phrases from:

Curls coiled in S's, O's and Z's

Spelling my hair free

in long hand.

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