|THIS is how i look fighting with the beast. her side eye is activated on 10|
when i first arrived here, i had cornrow braids. this style allowed me to get up and go without standing in the mirror for 30 light years trying to get my hair to look like i didn't get electrocuted. my students would ask to touch my hair, they asked if i could braid their hair as well. the teachers would gasp and ask me questions like, "how to do wash it?" "how long does it take to do it?" and some of the statements they made would boarder on being rude "it looks so complicated" "no one in china can do your hair" and my personal favorite, "is has to be fake, that does not look like real hair" WHOMP. but, i did not get angry. they meant no personal disrespect and they have never seen anything like me in all of their lives. most of the time i laughed it off and told them that in america, many women- even non black women, wear their hair in braids. i shrugged off this nagging feeling of loneliness as no one i worked with could ever understand the mystery of black hair and the love/hate relationship many of us deal with regarding our manes.
as a little girl, i would dread having my hair washed and pressed. pressing hair, for those of you who do not know, or for those of you too young to remember what it is (get OFF this blog if that is the case. it is rated M for mature. go play with barbies or something) anyway- "pressing hair" is a term for using a comb (i am talking about an old fashioned hot comb. the one that goes the stove and smelled like burnt tar after it sizzled like hot bacon grease when it touches your hair) and heat to straighten the hair. it looks like this:
|this is a TORTURE device|
now, i know those of you who have had their hair pressed can relate to this and we can agree that the Lord turned his back on every little black girl the day the hot comb was invented. i say that because your hair would bounce and shine like a new penny afterwards. BUT, getting to the promise land is what caused the most anxiety- the comb is HOT and you feel the steam burning your face before it even touches you. you have to close your eyes and stay completely still while the witch doctor aka your mother pulls the comb through your hair and lays it to the side. it. is. horrible. the smell of burnt hair and grease makes the air in the kitchen (where this usually takes place) unbreathable and you feel like you wanna steal away to Jesus when it is time to hold your head down and let them get to the back of your neck. so, as a little girl with a head full of hair, i would dread getting this done because it took forever. my mom and i would fight like tyson and holyfield every saturday afternoon. she would be standing over me with the instrument of death and i'd be looking back at her like "how could you do this to me?!" it was world war 3,4,5, and 6 in our humble abode.
as i got older, my relationship with my hair went from "i hate you" into casual annoyance because i had been introduced to the creamy crack aka the relaxer. i relaxed my hair with a huge smile on my face. some women complain of the smell and a burning scalp, but i sat in that salon seat like a champ. i watched as my hair went from afro to silky straight and GASP- it could pass through a regular comb! i did not care that the chemicals being used to straighten my hair were horrible, or that the effects of it could result in hair loss. i just wanted to be able to whip my hair back n forth. it was during my junior year in high school that i noticed how short my hair was getting and how dry and flaky my scalp was. i would pour oil into it but nothing seemed to help it. i did not want to keep up with the trends anymore and i decided at 16 years old to go natural. i did not do the dramatic big chop most women do when they decide to go natural. i was too much of a punk and i didn't want to lose whatever length i still had, so i braided it up for 4 years. i wore cornrows and micros and twist. i didn't wear a weave until i got out of college. once i finished school, i knew i needed to create a more grown up look for myself and i wanted to experiment with different styles and colors. weaves allowed me to do just that. i love them for that reason and had worn them for years after college. my natural hair was never worn alone and out unless it was straighten with a flat iron or blow dryer.
when i decided to go to china- i made the decision to wear braids at first and then wear my natural hair O.U.T. that was a big decision for me because, like i stated in the beginning paragraph- i have a lot of hair. and i am unable to do it well on my own. but now, i have to. i have to do battle with it. and i know that being in china with natural hair will cause even more stares. i am not sure if i am ready for that. i don't want to be oogled and pointed at. i don't want to cause a 5 car pile up while crossing the street because my fro is the biggest thing ever. at least with my cornrows i could put a hat on and no one would be the wiser. the style wasn't so in your face. wearing my hair al naturale means that i will have to confront the insecurities i still have within myself and learn to love my hair. i want to get to the point where i can be happy with what i see in the mirror....it's gonna take a lot of patience. a lot of youtube tutorials and a lot of baijiu (i kid. i'd never drink it again. ever) wish me luck.