I went through every hairstyle in the book. In middle school, I wanted to look like my white girlfriends and got a perm. I looked like a poodle with a Jerry curl. For years, I was addicted to relaxing my hair. My hair would always break. My scalp was always dry. I would cry every time it rained knowing that my hard work would get ruined. I would get so frustrated that I wore a bun.
Most of my son’s young life, he’s witnessed me buy relaxer, do it myself, wince in pain because of the burn and ultimately just damage my hair all to make it “easier” to style. Truth is it wasn’t easier. It was just a pervasive way to try to “fit” the ideal style – long, straight hair.
Two summers ago I decided to go natural. I found a stylist in town who not only knew how to work well with black hair, he helped me maintain my hair in it’s natural state.
I never felt so free. I could get my hair wet and not freak out. One day I found myself actually singing in the rain. When my son first saw me with my natural hair he asked, “Where’s your bun? I don’t like it at all.” I felt so much guilt and shame. I realized my six-year old’s sense of beauty was only what I exposed him to. So, I showed him pictures of other grown women of color with natural hair.
He’s slowly starting to come around. Lessons about beauty take time. I continue to assure him that no matter how many times mommy changes her hairstyle, I’m still the same person and I love him more than anything in this world.
What are your kids reactions when you change your hairstyle? How do they respond to someone who’s “style” is clearly different from what they are used to?