Growing up as a little brown girl is hard enough on its own. Being a brown girl with hair not deemed acceptable by society, well that’s a whole new ball game.
As much as I wish it wasn’t true, my childhood was a complete nightmare due to my hair. I wasn’t blessed to have a mom who was 4C hair savvy because she had a looser hair texture and after screwing my hair up from a young age with relaxers I begged for every 6 weeks, my natural hair had really taken a hit. This resulted in my transition to weave which kept me safe until it wasn’t safe. Until I got to college and really learned weave, I was gluing tracks to my scalp and faking ponytails that didn’t even match my own hair.
My friends , family, and peers all bullied me and I had gotten so used to the abuse, that I started to pretend it was actually funny after awhile. However it was never funny and I literally hated myself. Being called bald head, ugly, and made to feel like I’d never gain complete acceptance if my hair wasn’t right turned my hair into a disability for me. I convinced myself that I was hideous until junior year of high school when I cut my hair like nia long again. Years prior a hair dresser convinced my mom to give me a short hair cut in middle school which was a terrible idea for the age I was (that’s a story for my book, stay tuned). However, as a junior in high school who had learned to replace her lack of hair with killer fashion skills, this was MY look.
I was finally accepted. Everyone called me beautiful and for the first time in life I looked in the mirror and felt beautiful. This lasted until college when I attended an HBCU and woke up. I realized that even though I had mastered frying my hair bone straight and laying it down, then adding tracks, I never learned to love my hair for MY hair.
This is when I went “natural”. I put quotations around natural because now that I’ve REALLY learned to love myself, I know I was never really natural and I was still always playing it safe. In between washes immediately followed by a protective style covering my real texture, I’d look in the mirror and cringe. I’d literally look at my hair after it was washed ,conditioned, and dried and think, “damn, you’re really ugly without some kind of enhancement ”. After that thought, I’d proceed to adding the products I knew would make everyone love me. I’d mastered doing my edges and I spent an entire year convincing my college campus that the curly wig I was wearing was my hair.
The texture of the wig was that of a 3C hair chick and I learned awhile ago that my hair just was not that and it never would be. Still, my brain wouldn’t stop making me find ways to appear “foreign”. Embracing my kinks as they are NEVER became an option for me until I loced my hair. Before then, I’d try every little braid style, puff style, or weave style, that popped when I tailored the finishing touch, my baby hairs.
Because I’m a realist and I take the advice I give others, I forced myself to stop hiding behind hairstyles and learned to love my hair for the untamed beauty that it is my crown. It’s a beautiful thing to throw my hair into MY version of a sloppy bun and not have to worry about 10 kids in a circle calling me names because it wasn’t slick, thick, or long. I’m healing my inner child and my locs have made her free to live a life that has nothing to do with her hair.
This is why this whole H&M thing struck a nerve for me. Seeing women be so vile made my stomach turn and reminded me of the times I got off the bus to my 40 year old neighbor yelling out “hey baldy !”... as the other kids chanted along. I flashed back to the days when I would just say,”you know what? My hair can do anything the white girls hair can do”, as I forced ponytails that actually would have been acceptable if my peers made it, however they didn’t. They saw my nappy kitchen and shrunken crown as something always needing to be pruned, watered, and tailored, for acceptance and so I submitted to that belief just as so many little girls like the one in this ad may have to if we don’t understand the damage we KEEP doing to each other as black Woman when we march our little queens to the beauty supply store at age 5 because the kinks are just too much to bear looking at.
The rest of my rant is in my upcoming book so you’ll just need to wait for the harsh realities I’ll share with you that are a result of the self hate implanted amongst the black woman collective.
That little girl and her untamed 4C hair should be normalized just like a little girl with 2a or 3C messy hair is. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we HATE that Brillo pad look when it comes to our hair and we will do anything to make it look “acceptable” for our oppressors. Again, that’s a rant for my book.
I say everything today to say that the next time you see a little brown girl with that “Brillo pad” texture, you don’t view her as a case to solve, a project, or something that needs fixing. You view her as a little girl with beautiful, tight, curls , she’ll be able to do anything with when she learns the versatility of her natural hair.
To my sistas who don’t agree, maybe you didn’t have my experience, however I hope you try to understand it. It’s selfish to be more opinionated than empathetic and we should always remember that we move in LOVE ... ALWAYS.
Sending Love & Light,