I’ve been pulling, pinning and brushing out the poof from the puff of my hair for as long as I can remember. When I was in grade school I unashamedly told my Mama that I needed her to use gel in it to hold everything down and ‘against my head.’ Mama laughed and replied, ‘Hun, who told you what gel is?’
I can’t remember if she heard my answer through her giggles but if she did she would have heard me confess that the other girls at school had mothers who used gel to keep their hair from moving.
Now, today I think that’s an unhealthy way of thinking. Hair is definitely supposed to move. I grew up struggling with the notion that hair can’t possibly look good so far away from one’s scalp. The result? The High Ponytail (where I would apply so much product to my curls they were damp and docile at all times), the Working-Woman-Bun, and of-course the classic French Braid. The thing all of these styles have in common is that none of them allowed for my hair to breathe.
Whenever my hair would stress me out to the point of tears because I couldn’t get it to all stay in place, which was often, my Mother was always quick to remind me if I stressed out my hair would too. Today I translate that as: the more I oppressed my curls the more I felt oppressed. My voice became softer and my body language reserved—not unlike how I wanted my hair to appear to others.
Listed here are a few of the reasons I decided to overcome the anxiety of letting my hair fly free, and large. This new state of mind lead to me fully owning my hair and self.
They say flattery will get you nowhere but with the kind words of sweet strangers, admirers and friends I quickly came to realize that no one was offended by my hair. If anything people were in adoration of it and its new found freedom. They loved the way it looked and felt. Many would ask to run their hands through it. Be aware that this is both a pro and con as some days you would rather not have fingers all up in your roots.
There aren’t many things that beat the feeling of wind whipping through your afro, or the way it can violently flip it back and forth without the beat of a head bobbing soundtrack. That feeling of dipping down to tie your shoelace and later removing strands of hair from your lip-glossed upper lip as you straighten out. That feels a lot like freedom. Especially after the days of efficiently slicking everything back with surmountable precision and accuracy.
You would never expect that leaving your hair to the whims of the wind and all other environmental complications could actually make your life a lot simpler. Truth is the more unruly my curls became, and the more I accepted them in that state. The amount of time it took me to get ready dropped significantly, as well as my overall stress levels while I was out and about.
Truth is, worrying about which strands of hair might be trying to break free of their confinements all the time was taxing. It seems like an easy feat but letting go of that worry was a lot more of a struggle than letting go of my thick hair lotions and bobby pins.
I assure you that not only is bigger better, it’s fun and most of all it’s freedom; this self-imposed pressure of what our hair should look like and the restricting its natural state does no one any good. So let it go and allow them curls to grow and reach in all the directions they were meant to—whether that be obscuring someone’s view in the movie theatre or a student’s view of the instructor because that is their burden, not yours.
Today I can proudly say that I no longer own a tub of gel, or any ‘moisturizing’ thick lotions to force my curls into submission. If I had some say, I’d hope that no one ever does. Today I shower and let my curls define what kind of hair day we’re having and part of the freedom is knowing that tamed or unruly none of them are bad.