Thursday, February 21, 2013

hairy scary

hey loves!
i am still working on Shanghai & Sh*t pt. 3 but until then, i thought i'd address something else very problematic in my china adventure: my hair. see i have A LOT of hair and it's not the 'wash and go' kind of hair but it doesn't sound like firecrackers every time i comb through it either. it is kinky and curly and long. it takes 3 trips across the atlantic ocean to do it and ain't nobody got time for that!  i would like to highlight that i have many other talents- i can cook (well). i can clean. i can do laundry. i am a great listener. i have wonky sense of humor and i love to help people but i can not do my own hair to save my life :-(
THIS is how i look fighting with the beast. her side eye is activated on 10
while in china, i notice i get a lot of stares everywhere i go. and i know that is to be expected. i am a foreigner in china. but i am not just a foreigner, i am a black foreigner. there is a huge absence of black, latino, multi-racial people in china. not just in the streets, but also in the media. billboards, magazines, and television commercials all incorporate caucasian models and actors. it is not uncommon to go into a mall in rizhao and see all white model advertisements. i have only seen a black model one time in china; he was in a reebok sports advertisement. needless to say that this lack of diversity, has lead to a lack of knowledge and understanding with chinese people when it comes to black people, black women, and especially, black hair. most of the citizens in rizhao have NEVER seen a black person. i am the first foreign teacher at my school and the curiosity about me and my hair is always a cause for discussion.

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'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.

wild child 


  1. I enjoyed reading this very much! I love your hair!!!! It's freaking awesome!!!!! I can only hope my hair will be like yours one day. I am one year natural loving it, but still a ways to go! You be different love the hair your in lol and maybe those people can learn something from you about you your culture your history and your REAL beautiful natural hair. You can make a difference and teach them something cause they are completely unfamiliar about another side of the world and how we live and are as a people. Two different cultures can learn the differences in each other and may surprisingly find some similarities as well.....Keep up the good work you go girl! (martin voice) lol

  2. awww thank you Shanethea! i am going to rock my hair and i'll be proud to do it. i think this will be a great opportunity to teach people something new. thanks for posting!

  3. Yes sis you have so much hair!!!! Omg ive always said your hair grows hair lol. I'ts almost like one hair strand is equivalent to a tree branch that sprouts out more braches! Its beautiful long a super thick, and yes its a hassle to deal with,but in your times of trouble, seek ye first the channel called youtube lol! Love you

    1. LOL Jazzy you already know what I am dealing with. Le sigh. I'll be on YouTube everyday getting advice. <3 u too

  4. Your hair is freakin gorgeous...luv the kinky wonderfulness! Dev's locs may have some competition. ;-)

  5. I love this. I am a white mom, with a black daughter, living in China. Wow, talk about a learning curve. Still learning how to do her amazing hair and figure out how to hold my tongue when people say things like, "oh, she is black, so she will be good at basketball when she grows up." Sigh...

    1. Hi Carrie!
      Thank you so much for taking the time out to read and comment on my blog. It is unfortunate that people make rude comments out of ignorance, but I am sure what ever she decides to do, she will be great at it.
      As for her hair, my email is you may message me if you have questions about your daughter's hair. Just remember LOTS of moisture and comb while it's wet- It will make your life A LOT easier :-)

  6. Hello!

    I was sent to your blog because I'm thinking of going to China next year. I've had my hair natural for a while now and taking care of it so far from home is a concern. So let me ask you, how hard/easy is it to find products there? or did you just not put anything in it?

    Thanks! (still reading blog, started this morning)

    1. Hi CJ, thanks for reading my blog and taking the time out to post!
      I brought everything I needed for my hair from the US. They have olive oil available but aside from Head and Shoulders shampoo and some Pantene Pro V there weren't a lot of American options especially for black women. I would suggest you pack at least a 2-3 month supply and then have fam/friends send you more when the time comes. If you're gonna be in a rural area away from a big city I would bring everything I needed. Good luck!


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