If I had to hear that ‘good hair’ excuse one more time, I would scream. All of my life, I would constantly hear things repeated regarding ‘good hair’. This time, I was the one being accused of having ‘good hair’ and I hated it. I didn’t like it at all.
He would tell me stories about how he used to hang out with some guys who lived in a small town close to Lafayette. The people in this town were all homogeneous when it came to skin color. They were ‘Creole’ –they had black features with very light skin tones and ‘good hair’. In awe, I’d listen to how a ‘good haired’ blind man would graze his fingertips into someone’s hair to check and see if their hair was good enough to enter a night club out there. It surprised me because I didn’t know that things were happening such as that in recent times. I had no idea having ‘good hair’ was such a big thing.
For a long time, I thought issues like this were only embedded in Southwestern Louisiana. I knew hair was always a big thing for Black Women and women in general; I just had no idea that some people’s texture of hair prevented them from seeing a live show in a night club.
So, as he expressed this to me, I thought of the times where people said I had ‘good hair’ and my stomach flipped and flopped. I knew that I was not light-skinned (or malatta as they say here)by any means and if the blind guy felt my hair texture, would I be let into the club? I had no idea why I was always bombarded with the comments of having ‘good hair’ and could not understand how to react when people said that. I mean…they thought it was a compliment, but I didn’t. I really did not strive to have this hair. I just wanted to be natural and it just so happened to be thin and fine. As these people grazed my thin strands and exclaimed how ‘good’ my hair was…the knots reappeared into my stomach and I felt awkward..so awkward, I would not respond.
“He would take his hands and feel your hair and if it wasn’t good enough, you couldn’t get in”.
“Stop messing with me” I laughed into the mouthpiece of the phone.
“No I’m serious girl. That’s how serious they were back then”.
“Did you ever get in to that club?” I laughed.
“No. I didn’t even try.”
A few days after this conversation, I walked into the gas station to pay for some gas. The attendant looked at me and smiled as I handed her a twenty-dollar bill. “You are natural aren’t you?” she asked me as I started away.
“Yes…” I smiled.
“Your hair is very pretty. I tried to go natural but I don’t have the kind of hair you got.”
“Really? You can go natural, you just have to learn how to take good care of your hair since it is different.”
“No girl, I don’t have that good hair like you got. My husband loved my natural but I think I look better with my sew ins. My hair is too thick and nappy. I couldn’t do nothing with it…”
“It does look good on you” I confirmed because indeed it did, but in the back of my mind I was angry about her good hair comment and the fact that she thought I was only going natural because I had ‘Good Hair’. With out completing the conversation, I told her good night and walked out of that gas station deflated.
A few days ago, I decided to go into the Beauty Supply to see how many pairs of cheap earrings I could afford with ten bucks. I mean…we all know, you can get some hip and funky earrings at the beauty supply for cheap, so I decided, I’d splurge ten dollars and see what I could come out with. While building my earring collection, I ran into two pretty women who were looking at “Duby Wraps”. Now please don’t ask me what a “Duby Wrap” is…all I know is it looks funny and the name sounds funnier than it looks.
“Your hair is so pretty.” One of the girls pointed at me.
“Thank you…”I felt awkward again. I stood there with a pair of wooden circles dangling from my hands and I watched the women neared toward me.
“Chelsea girl, I tried to do the natural thing. I couldn’t girl…my hair is too thick.”
“I wouldn’t even try” laughed Chelsea. I paused.
“What you do to yo hair to get it to look like dat?” the other girl looked at me.
“I just twist it at night and when I wake up in the morning, untwist it and fluff it with my fingers to make it big.” I answered awkwardly. I had a feeling a comment that I didn’t like was on its way to slap me in the face.
The girl drew nearer toward me as I dropped my eyes toward the earrings that I collected. The feeling of awkwardness grew inside of me as the seconds neared toward her response.
“Chelsea I want my ha’ to look like dat girl.” She motioned toward Chelsea. Chelsea looked at me.
“Yea, she can do that because she got that soft hair.” Chelsea looked at me. At that moment, I had no idea if I should respond or just walk away because I felt insulted.
“Ya’ll can go natural if you want. Your hair would hold a twist out much better than mine…” I told the original girl.
“Girl I tried that.” She laughed. “My hair is too thick for that. But yo hair is pretty. I like it.” She smiled at me and walked back toward the Duby Wraps. I looked at the back of her and her friend’s head. Sadly enough, their hair looked brutally damaged and I felt for the original girl who wanted natural hair.
“Thank you.” I muttered in the air of their departure.
This happens to me a lot and most of the time, I walk away with an attitude of dejection instead of encouragement. As I walked out of the beauty supply, I told myself I needed to do a better job to explain to these women that anyone can go natural and I didn’t choose to be natural because I had ‘good hair’. The awkwardness, the language that was used, the outward display of low confidence was so thick…I would forget that I am supposed to be an advocate for natural hair and I am supposed to encourage the non-believers. We have to eliminate the attitudes of the hair pat downs to become exclusive, leaving the ‘nappy heads’ out on the street.
I never prided myself in having a certain hair type or having thin hair. I never prided myself on having anything but natural hair. My hair has been growing natural for over two years now and I love it. It hurts me to hear people segregate themselves because they believe in good and bad hair. For the billionth time, there is no good or bad hair. We need to eliminate this language from our speech and embrace all hair textures. Good and bad are terms only used for us to separate ourselves and even though we are becoming more natural, these terms are just poison that will be carried down to our children as it already has been done for centuries.
Let’s face it. If the whole world was natural, we would still be sitting here classifying each other because we think there is a difference between textures. Just because my texture is different from someone else’s, people want to think that one of us is better than the other person…and one of us has better hair.
“I gave up!” One of my friends told me when I was talking to her about Fleur de Curl. “I don’t think I was meant to be natural.”
“What do you mean by that? That is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.”
“Please! My hair is too thick. Too kinky. You can do that because you have good hair. I can’t girl.”
“Oh MY Goodness! I’m tired of people using hair texture as an excuse. If you don’t want to go natural, just be truthful. You are made to be natural because you were created natural. ” I looked at her. She didn’t comment back. I knew that finally, by the feeling embedded in the silence in the air, that standing up for what I believed, someone realized that all of this language is just an excuse. They realized that this was just a display of the centuries of mental conditioning that we need to eliminate from our mindsets. At that moment, I knew I had good hair…I knew it because I was natural.