Today I did something I haven’t done in a long while. I sat down in the shower and just let the water run over me. The cool water trickling over my scalp and skin. It’s something I should do more often, right? Yeah, but this time I didn’t really have a choice. The shampoo had blinded me so it was easier to fumble about for my oils seated than standing.
While sitting down I had a thought. This isn’t something us black girls do very often, willingly sitting under the shower, intentionally getting our hair wet.
Let me start off by saying that getting your hair washed is probably the best feeling for any person. Its soothing, however for many black girls, getting your hair wet on any day besides wash day was forbidden.
Until the natural hair movement, most girls lived the life of getting stressed when it rained. Others would worry having to participate in activities such as swimming or worse, playing with flour bombs and water balloons. Water could only come in contact with the hair under a very controlled environment.
What foolishness is that?! That your hair stands as an obstacle between you having fun with the rest of the world? That it’s a force of resistance when it comes to all water-related, sweat-inducing, let-your-hair-run-wild sort of activities.
What I find really sad is when young girls know exactly how much it’ll cost to get their hair chemically straightened or braided and exactly how long it should last. Let me repeat. They know exactly how much their hairstyles cost and how long it should last! The most my mother expected of me was to not lose my shoes (hence I opted to play barefoot) and to wear ‘play clothes’ when I wanted to play. Nothing more. I shouldn’t be worried about finances and aesthetic when I’m just a little girl.
Fortunately, my mother didn’t hold me back from doing anything I wanted to do. If anything, we planned my hair around what I wanted to do instead of planning my activities around my hairdo at the time. I’d have cornrows for swimming season and my natural hair during hockey season for easy washing.
For too long black girls and women have had to think twice when it came to their hair. Or rather they had to think twice on everything else because of their hair. I went natural a few years ago and I grow more confident in my decision the longer I stay in it. However it isn’t easy. We struggle because we weren’t taught how to take care of our natural hair (I’m really only starting to learn how to take care of my crown now, after 6 years of being natural). We almost quit as soon as we begin, because we think that only a certain coil is manageable and loveable. A coil that’s looser, more co-operative, less 4 C-ish. I don’t mean to get preachy here but I think I have to.
“This is freedom, ” I thought to myself as I sat, eyes open, gently breathing under the spray. Our natural hair is resilient! I have no judgement for those who opt for alternatives to natural hair. There are plenty reasons why people do. For example, my mother chose to relax my hair at a young age – it’s way easier to manage! Plus I’m genetically inclined to coarse, tight coils. But the great thing is that our natural hair bounces back. Honestly it does! If it can bounce back after years of chemical straightening, it can bounce back after a dip in the pool. When it’s wet, it’s springy and when it’s dry, it shrinks. Cut it and it grows.
Sure, some nights take longer than others to prep my hair now but I think that a wonderful opportunity is presented here. To spend some time alone, looking into the mirror, in reflection. Or some quality time with my mother as she braids my hair. My mother loves doing my hair, it’s a special moment. There’s something intimate about allowing someone to touch your hair. I don’t have to go deeper into that one. We’re still all scarred from that hairdresser that did us wrong.
What I’m trying to get at in a very long-winded way is, I love my hair because it allows me to be free. I am unrestricted, my hair is unrestricted, and it allows me to grow and grow and grow.
Edited by Zamier