I remember a few weeks ago I had to do a presentation in my AP Literature and Composition class based off of the book Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The question I made for the presentation was: "What does it mean to be a woman of color in America?" and my example for the class was hair. I talked about how hair is one of the most difficult parts about being a colored woman in America. White society tends to prefer straight and sleek hair. Listen, no type of hair is bad hair, and straight hair isn't the only hair type out there.
When I was younger, I would spend time once or twice a week (depending on the amount of money and time my aunts had) at a Dominican salon straightening my hair for hours. We'd arrive at the salon at around 10, and I even remember my aunt would buy lunch for us at around 1 while we did our hair because it took so long. If we weren't at a Dominican salon, it was back home in the Bronx or Harlem (I moved a lot as a kid, but mostly moving around in the Bronx until I landed in Downtown, Manhattan) and I would cry because I had so many knots- my aunts would just pull at them forgetting that I had a sensitive scalp. I would always get nervous when it was time for the flat iron because it would be so hot and sometimes burn my ears- one time when it burnt my ear, I had a ten minute tantrum but that tantrum was really just a short break for everyone because after I was done crying we got back to it. I didn't understand why I was doing this to my hair and why my boy cousins (one of them having long hair like I had) didn't do their hair. Why didn't they have to go through this stress? All I knew, though, was that after all of this, many people would come up to me or my aunts saying that I had such good hair and it was so nice.
As I grew up, I realized that I needed to stop damaging my hair because my hair is the culture that's embedded in my roots. It is my Dominican culture and I'm proud to have messy curly hair. I told my aunt that I was going to stop and she looked at me like we weren't speaking the same language for a second, like I had said the most taboo thing I've ever said in my whole life. After a few moments, she finally said "Oh okay..." once I had listed my reasons for why I was stopping this process. However, she had asked me if I was serious right after that.
About two years later I finally made the decision to cut my hair, I officially cut it in the end of October in 2015. Let me tell you: everyone in my family hates it, but I told them I didn't care if they liked it or not; I'm doing it because I killed it, I tortured it, I went through this tedious pain every week to please society's idea of beautiful. I had to stop. Now I'm dealing with the consequences, but hey: I'm still transitioning with my curls. Me and them are finally getting along, and my hair will get better.
I didn't write this article to just tell you a life experience, I wrote this article to let anyone who has thick hair, curly hair, wavy hair, or kinky hair: your hair is good hair and there is no such thing as bad hair. There's such thing as unhealthy hair, yes, but don't let anyone convince you that your hair is not valid. Style your hair because you want to, not because society is persuading you into thinking you need to, which isn't true.