The asker was none other than my beloved Danish boyfriend, or the panda bear as I affectionately call him. I knew that question would come sooner or later. If I was a smarter woman I would have had a prepared answer, accompanied with articles, bible verses, and a powerpoint presentation complete with flow charts and pictures.
I knew for sure he would ask after the dozens of times I would announce, “I am washing my hair tonight”. Washing one’s hair from his perspective takes less than 3 minutes in the shower and is done everyday. For me, with my long traditional locs, it was an event that needed to be scheduled. The first few times during the endeavor, he would call or text querying where I was. I would reply patiently that I was STILL washing my damn hair.
I only washed my locs about once every two weeks.
- First I had to wash it with a clarifying shampoo for my scalp and then a moisturizing shampoo for my hair, condition for 20 minutes, and then thoroughly rinse out the conditioner to avoid build-up.
- If it was an easy week I would interlock, retwist and clip the roots which took about an hour and then sit under an inflatable portable hooded dryer, an invention he didn’t even know existed. I still remember the “wtf-face” the first time he saw it.
- If it was a feeling cute week, I set it on rollers or rods or braided it and sat under the dryer for 2 or more hours to get a good solid set. It was a commitment he clearly had no appreciation for, and why would he? I never tried explaining the mechanics of it all, I didn’t want to bore him or scare him, LOL. I just figured if he wanted to know he would ask but the question didn’t come.
About 6 months into our relationship I lopped my locks off in pursuit of sisterlocks. I went into the bathroom and cut off close to 14 inches of natural hair. I didn’t discuss it with him really, I just got it in my head that I
- What was wrong with my current “set”?
- Did I really have to cut off all my hair to get them to look different?
- Couldn’t I just comb them out?
I really really was prepared for him to ask such things but he never did. He just loved me, nearly bald and all, and commented on how cute my ears were when I unveiled the new short cut after my shape up from the barbers.
There would be no dissertation on the impact of a society obsessed with the pursuit of unattainable Eurocentric beauty standards on the fragile, impressionable self esteem and self image of a nappy headed little Black girl. No explanation on the need for reprogramming and how awesome it would be if Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey wore their natural hair. No horror stories of me getting a press and curl and getting my ears burned or my scalp being chemically scalded whilst getting a relaxer, how my hair was constantly referred to as difficult or impossible and something that needed to be dealt with. No discussion regarding how my hair style is still not “acceptable” to some and how the most critical people of my natural hair are my own people.
Just recently during a trip to Berlin, I woke up early one Sunday and I decided I would check the blogs and photo blogs of fellow natural hair wearers. He walked up behind me and glanced at the computer screen and saw pictures and pages full of Black women talking about their natural hair.
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