I’d love to know  how long, on average, a black girl spends talking, moaning, comparing, crying over her hair.  I for one have spent far too long pondering that age old war between natural, ‘nappy’ hair and chemically relaxed and over the years, i’ve fought for both sides, but it’s not so clear cut.

In my teenage garage girl days, my flicked, coiled and glossy Swing My Way short cut was the hottest look and being natural, a definate No No.  My 2nd year of uni saw my rebellion and decision to grow out the perm, sporting twists or the occassional braids for the next 7 years.  Then i got engaged and family and friends immediately asked “But what are you going to do with your hair?”, hmmm, i had thought i might keep my hair in the lovely twists my husband-to-be knew and loved, but their aghast expressions rattled my nubian ideal.  Off to the hairdressers, from the Swing My Way days, with an oversized afro of kinky loveliness i headed and left with a gorgeous, long mane – ready for the perfect bride.  It was all good.  The wedding was great, the pictures looked nice, but I’d forgotten about the maintenance.  What to do when you go to the gym, regrowth, Saturday morning salon visits – the list goes on.

That’s when i got a weave, you see I caught on quite late,  I didn’t realise that almost everybody i saw on the bus to work, church, out on the town black and white were wearing hair they could only claim was their’s because of the receipt. Mine was cool, very itchy, but an instant transformation, I had lot’s of positive comments from the guys at work, “My gosh your hair’s grown so quickly”, “Your hair looks amazing!” that kind of thing.  But i felt like a fraud.

So, back around the cycle i’ve travelled – i’m growing out the relaxer and already am so glad about my decision.  You see, i’ve got nothing against people who choose to relax or weave their hair.  That’s fine and the most blessed thing about our versatile hair.  Black  hair can be changed massively on a weekly basis – canerows, twists, straw set, afro, plaits.  However, when black women believe the only way to look attractive or professional is to emulate european hairstyles, which unfortunately many do and 3 year old girls toddle to nursery with short, tight and balding relaxed hair – that’s the problem.  Some of my fondest memories are sitting between my mother’s knees on a sunday afternoon as she prepared my hair for the next school week or granny when she would comb each strand what felt like a 100 times (which she’s admitted insisting upon, simply because she adored my thick and healthy hair).  This is something all black women should be proud of, a part of our heritage, that no area of the African Diaspora has lost.  Our genius when it comes to our hair, should be celebrated not ignored.

I categorise black women’s relationship with their hair (tongue-in-cheek naturament), as follows:

1) Full weave/ wig because of shame of natural hair e.g.  Beyonce & come-back queen Whitney

2)The experimenter, frequent weaves or relaxed hair cuts of every style, shade and length e.g. Jennifer Hudson and Rihanna

3) The straight and narrow relaxer queen, got a relaxer in their teens and has never stopped maintains their favourite hair style, with a scrape back for those regrowth days.  Would never have a weave, maybe a few tracks for length, but would never go natural e.g. Michelle Obama

4) The Brandy’s, big fans of hair extensions, as they can keep their natural hair, but have the length for a slighty more glamourous aesthetic e.g. Brandy and Patra (in the old days)

5) The Nubians, twists, fros, locks as long as it’s natural e.g. Shingai Shoniwa and Lauren Hill

So, i’m beginning the journey – this week i have had a remarkably high number of compliments for my, essentially a pinned-up, messy, afro.  I feel regal, unique, stylish and proud.


3 Responses to “Miss Petaluma On…TO NAP OR NOT TO NAP? THAT IS THE QUESTION”

  1. I love this blog!!!!

    Our hair is so versatile, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thank you for this eloquent reminder!

    • misspetaluma Says:

      Thanks Michelle, it’s a subject very close to both of our hearts – she says preparing herself for a two-hour twisting session!

  2. am right there with you!!!…. as a teenager i rocked the relaxer and vowed never to go natural as my hair was ‘too hard an’ nappy’ …. but alas after one fateful trip to a back street salon it all fell out…and here i am 9 years later with an afro that makes even the biggest toughest comb quiver… it does get to me a bit some times tho when i know that i will spend 2-3hrs sorting it out… but all in all I love it!!!!!! i did try a weave once too, but like you i felt like a fraud….its good to know i am not alone on this … thank you for the encouragemnent.;o)

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