In October, a Honeysmoke reader asked how I will instill “Black” values and a sense of pride in Simone and Nadia. This month, I’m going to address a practice I will not pass on to my daughters: hair issues.

For decades, black women have been at war with their hair. They fight with it, press it, relax it, cover it, protect it, weave it. For many black women, doing hair is a long, arduous and even painful process. It doesn’t have to be.

My mother cherished my natural hair. She didn’t believe in pressing combs, relaxers or anything else that could damage it. I grew up with a health head hair, and I consider myself lucky.

There is one exception. I had what many black women call “good hair.” I am embarrassed to admit I took pride in that label. What I didn’t realize as a child was that if I had “good hair,” then someone had to have “bad hair.”

When I got older, I veered from my mother’s thinking. I sat in a beauty shop for hours and paid someone to straighten my hair every six to eight weeks. I have a sensitive scalp, and I burn easily. As soon as a beautician started the process, my scalp felt like it was on fire and I wanted her to wash it out. I waited as long as I could between relaxers. They were costly, and I was loath to spend so much time — sometimes the entire day — in a beauty shop.

Beauticians relaxed my hair — off and on — for 10 years. The more I thought about it, the more I considered relaxers a form of self-hatred. Getting my hair done did not have to hurt.

One day while a reporter at my first newspaper job, I went to lunch, walked down the street to a salon and asked a woman to cut off all of my hair. It rested just past my shoulder blades. A group of women gathered around and watched as the beautician cut my hair to about a quarter of an inch, washed it and finger-combed it with curl activator.

I don’t want Simone and Nadia to have a similar experience with their hair. Curls give hair personality, and there is no need to straighten them. In our home, there is no such thing as “good hair” or “bad hair.” It’s just hair.

8 thoughts to “Hair Story

  • Nikki @ Euphoria Luv

    Love this. I agree that it just hair but it’s also about personal style and image.

  • Jenn

    This is wonderful, they willl be able to work out swim and enjoy life without their hair being a major concern.

  • ET

    Thanks, Mom. I hope to do the same, although I think it’s a lot easier to take pride in your hair when it’s considered “good” … I have a lot of friends with “bad hair” who have severe, deep-seeded issues with their hair.

    (And because I was the original reader you referred to … If you ever wish to address this again, I guess I was asking more about what you DO do as the mother of biracial bebes. Not so much what you don’t do (which is great, too). Thanks!)

  • ET

    Oops! I just read further back and saw your initial response. Sorry, catching up on my blogs! 🙂

    • Honeysmoke

      sorry about that. i should have sent you a link when i answered your question. glad you found the initial response.

  • class factotum

    My husband and I watched the Chris Rock movie, “Good Hair.” He (my husband) was really confused. “Why would women do this to their hair? It looks perfectly fine the way it is!”

  • Ayana

    The reason I decided to go natural was my 7 yr was with one day while i was getting a relaxer and ask if it was hurting, why did i get it? With that question and the idea that I was lying to her by saying her natural hair was pretty as kinky but mommy gots to get the kinks out was just absurd. My last relaxer was that day of 04-12-2010 and i have not look back. I tell my girls that all thier hair is good and I dont allow anyone to refer to my kids by skin color or hair type. The older people in our family say I’m siddity but I say I am a natural mom.

    • Honeysmoke

      good for you!

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