The love affair between my hair and I has hit a rough patch.
Nearly a decade after growing out my relaxer and joining #TeamNatural, I’ve regressed in my hair adoration and I’m almost back at that insecure, “not sure what I’m doing” stage I found myself in after my big chop. I’ve had some fabulous hair days since that muggy August afternoon when I emerged from the salon, 100% natural and free – days of cotton candy fluffiness, surprising length, and daring moments with colour that made me feel excited about experimenting with my hair. Learning about my hair’s versatility was so incredibly fun – dry sets, wet sets, stretching twists, blown out, or letting my coils spring free-form – discovering and indulging in it all amazed me. But somewhere along the journey, that excitement faded.
When I co-hosted my Curls, Coils, & Cocktails meetup at the end of February, I admitted this very fact. In the weeks since, I’ve really been thinking about why I feel so despondent about my hair, and I’ve uncovered two main reasons why I’m currently so blah about my crown.
Little Magician is almost 2 now (where is time going???) and she literally does not stop moving until you can wrangle her flailing limbs and get her into bed. That being said, it’s become much easier for me to a) rock styles like box braids and Marley twists to get my hair out of the way and still look cute or b) becoming alarmingly OK with not maintaining my hair well, and just praying for mercy from my hair goddess whenever I get around to my next wash day. With either option, I acknowledge that I’m not engaging and falling in love with my own hair – I’m just doing what I need to do to get through the day and look presentable. It takes so much more planning now to be able to properly wash, detangle, set, and allow my hair to dry – and when I’m chasing after/feeding/putting to bed/entertaining a toddler, sometimes my hair transforms from a necessary responsibility to an indulgent luxury.
Back when I was pregnant, I went for a casting call at a modeling agency. I had recently bought a cute lil half wig that helped me to rock a quick and fly look as needed, and ended up wearing it to my audition. I didn’t book that gig, but they kept my photos on file and I’ve been booking quite a few gigs since, off da strenf of those pics.
Because of the half wig, every casting agent gets excited over my hair and ensures that my hair will be exactly the same as the photos they saw when I show up to set. Even though I always send in current photos at their request, my hair is never acceptable unless it’s coiled and blended into the shoulder-length half wig. I won’t lie – getting awed looks and overflowing compliments about my half-wigged hair in comparison to rejection or shrugs of “I like it better the other way” for my natural hair has gotten to me after a while. I’ve gotten self-conscious about my hair. I’ve gotten used to how my face looks enveloped by the billows of curly additions. I’ve simultaneously been proud to represent in mainstream media as a Black woman rocking natural-textured hair, and felt like a fraud for not being able to book gigs with my hair – the hair I’ve grown, not the hair I’ve bought.
I adore my natural hair and used to have so much fun with it. But now – due to convenience, time constraints, job demands, and narrow scopes of beauty ideals in media, I haven’t given myself the time to fall back in love with it. This past weekend when I had an extra moment to myself, I jumped in the shower with my drain protector, wide-tooth comb, and my favourite lotions and potions – and spent time caring for my hair in a way I hadn’t done as of late. I came out, massaged some coconut oil into my strands, then took my trusty Denman brush and shea butter and detangled then twisted my hair section by section. Today I took the twists down, feeling the softness and silkiness, and admiring the springiness of each coil. My hair felt healthy and beautiful and almost seemed to whisper “Don’t you remember why you loved me?” I do now, and my new goal is to reacquaint myself with her, set time to be with her, and reset my expectations of her and of me. I’m determined to rekindle our relationship, and I think we’re finally on the right track.