How It Feels to Be Black Haired Me
Honorable Mention, 2014 Bethesda Magazine Young Adult Essay Contest
I was blessed with black hair. This statement has nothing to do with the color of my hair, though. It is what my hair is. When I was younger, my hair’s strange feeling attracted the fingers of all my white haired and Hispanic haired friends. Never had they seen hair that could stand up straight of its own power or stick like Velcro to itself. I remember wishing that wind would carelessly caress my kinky strands like it did theirs. But no, I got struggle and hardship and pain. Relaxers? They made hair like pipe cleaners, straight but unable to freely move.
Of course, with my already obvious luck in the hair lottery, the relaxers ruined my hair and swish went the scissors. The next day was hard. I walked into the first grade classroom and felt every possible and imagined eye on my head. Two clear strands erupted from my eyes, and I sat at my desk with hands pressed to my face, while my teacher assured me that my hair looked lovely. I mourned that loss and could never truly stomach losing hair ever again.
Plenty more battles with my hair followed in the years to come. With each new frustration, I gave up more hope in the physical identity I wished to have. I would stick my head into gusts and near open windows to experience movement. I imagined myself as a flow-y haired movie goddess with locks the envy of everyone.
Only burnt hair sandwiches and dark vines brought me even close to this dream.
Looking back at photographs from major events in my past, I shudder. Silent criticisms of the outfit, the smile, and, most of all, the hair ooze out of a dark part in my heart. I ask myself, “How did they let me look like this and still take the pictures!?” Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who developed a policy of never looking back.
It took me a long time to accept what I have. So many people around me had the coveted locks. However, there is a beauty in my mane, and it rebelliously shouts to be acknowledged. Oh! The beautiful things my hair can do! The vines that hang heavily down my back wave confidently to the world around. No scrunchie or hair tie need ever worry about slipping up or down! Even curls respectfully maintain their good behavior in its presence.
My hair stands for every black-haired ancestor who came before me, and it fights to be loved by every scalp to come. I can’t really say when I truly started to appreciate my hair, but I know it happened over time. So I guess my first statement is true. I was blessed with black hair.