Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On Hair

As I sit here typing this post, my hair is pulled up in a perky side ponytail. Straight.

I straightened it, or rather, my mother did for a job interview. I know, I know, that's a terrible thing to do, but we were all curious about my hair. Besides, I was getting a free hairstyle out of it.
I'd been agonizing over what to do with it for a while, but still feeling too lazy to really do anything about it.
So, I washed my hair, applied (way too much) coconut oil, and blow dried it so that my mother could flatiron it. I said that we were curious earlier because by that time, it had been months since I'd flatironed my hair. I saw no need for it, and was perfectly happy wearing it in a professional looking bun for interviews. Still, I think we all wanted to see what my hair would look like straight.
It reaches my shoulders curly, so it should come as no surprise when I say that it literally takes me upwards of two hours to straighten it myself.

When it was all done, my head felt naked, and the feel of the hair falling down my back was alien. It was heavy and light all at once. It felt a little less like me, and more like someone else Something else.
I love my hair no matter what it's doing, but it always takes some getting used to whenever I change styles. The straightness just adds a bit more novelty to it.

I love my hair, but it just feels like I'm wearing a veil when I'm wearing it straight and it blows in the wind. It draws just as much attention as one too.
People look at me differently when I wear my veil. They respond to me differently, and I to them. I've been told once before that I look younger with my hair straightened, but really, I think the perceived youth is really that of innocence and concealment.
My veil conceals my age, my self awareness.
My eyes look that much more innocent - unknowing - when they are seen from behind my veil. When I place it over my head, the knowledge of what I am to everyone else is hidden away. People look at me, and they see a pretty black girl when I've got it on. When it's off, my eyes are too keen. They are that of a woman who knows that you're making assumptions about her. They are the eyes of a woman who hears the self loathing and hint of judgment when you tell me that my hair is so pretty as though it is some sort of rarity. As though you cannot conceive of something so wonderful growing from my head, much less your own.
Without my veil to cover it up, people and black women especially can no longer pretend that the veil isn't the way it's supposed to be. Without it, they must tell themselves new lies.

"My hair could never do that."

"You must have good hair."

Whenever I have my hair straight, I leave it up for about two weeks simply because it would be a waste to wash all that work away after only a few days.
But in all honesty, it weighs me down after only one.