For The Root Thursday I penned a piece about my struggles to make my hair look like the enviable hair of Hollywood actresses and shampoo bottles only to be endlessly disappointed. There was no way to “wake up like dis.” Beauty is hard work.
All my life, people have made a big deal about my hair, but in almost every situation, the hair they gushed over was not my “real hair.” I have never, ever “woke up like dis.” My hair—while strong, long and my dominant feature—is a carefully crafted myth that can easily be shattered by stuff like “the wind,” “water” or “the scarf fell off while I was asleep.”
All hair manipulation—whether it’s your hair or someone else’s—renders it otherworldly. I created my hair mythology because it was expected of me. It is expected of every black woman, and it is a pain in the ass. Going natural does not spare you of it, since your curly hair is compared with that of biracial women or women wearing realistic-looking Afro wigs. Loose, bouncy curls? Good. My frizzy, “Good Lord, what are you mixed with? An Arabian horse and a Brillo pad” hair? Bad.