Jul 23, 2013

Amber's Hair Diary: No Really, You Can Touch My Hair.

Hi my name is Amber and I have hair ADD.  There was a point in time when I thought I had a problem.  Was my sense of self too wrapped up in the fact that, in order to have natural hair I felt the need to change it, and change it often?  I was having natural hair guilt.  I should just leave it alone. Find a protective style and stick with it.  If “Hand in Hair (HIH)” syndrome were one that was medically documented then I would be the poster girl. Then I began to think that there may be a greater problem.  It made me laugh though, because it seems that women of color no matter which way we roll, relaxed, natural, or somewhere in between there were so many rules surrounding hair and touching. 

How much should I touch my own hair? Should I let others touch my hair? What will other women think of me if I do? If, I don’t? Do I let my man run his fingers through my hair?  

Then it clicked. 

Why does it matter? 

Don’t get me wrong.  There are times when we need to be aware of how we are treating our hair. After all textured hair requires extra pampering and TLC.  If you aren’t receiving the results you want with your hair then by all means it may be time to re-evaluate your routine. But so much of our defensiveness concerning textured hair in women of color is wrapped up in traditions, fears, and others reactions. 
We all had that kid go to touch our freshly pressed curls in junior high that reached out and recoiled at their oily fingers. 

However, natural hair has evolved so why have we not evolved with it? I think about the daughters and sons that I may someday have, and I don’t want them recycling the same fears that I have been battling with for years. 
The whole you can touch my hair situation set many a folks off, and yet I was so happy to see that campaign.  Yes, perhaps it wasn’t staged in a way that folk felt was uplifting, but someone always has to be the first.  I am not afraid to touch my hair so why should I be afraid if anyone else touches it? Then I got to see this fear in action.  As you all know I am currently in school at the Aveda Institute.  I arrived at the Institute when I first started in standard me style. Funky hair, funky outfit, funky me. 

I expected questions but I did not expect the fear that I saw across some of my classmates faces as they tried to understand (black and white classmates alike). I could see they were itching to get their hands in it and yet no one made and attempt to touch it. I wondered if I might have unknowingly been giving off my “angry black girl” face and that’s why none of them dared.  Finally a few weeks in and a few hairstyles later they got to see my natural hair. I encouraged them to touch it and there were still some who reached out to touch my hair like it was diseased or those who weren’t sure if their fingers were going into something soft and friendly or harsh and brittle. I was concerned because I know if I go to sit in someone’s chair and that is their response to my hair, I am out of there. So instead of reacting negatively I took the time out to communicate.  Let them see their reaction to if I had gone in to touch their hair like that.  To their surprise when they did touch my hair it was soft and fluffy and there was no greasy after touch either (I secretly reveled in this).  At that moment though I stopped and realized that had it not been for my hair ADD and some 20 years of taking leaps of faith with my hair and sometimes failing miserably I might have never realized the perfect concoction that keeps my hair soft and moisturized without coming back with a hand full of oil. 

I encourage all you curly heads to not be afraid to break the rules or bend them to suit your needs. Reinvent yourself daily, weekly, monthly, or within whatever timeframe works best for you.  With natural hair comes versatility and with that comes the ability to change it up and change it up often.  But know that as you do that you are setting and creating new hair traditions.  With the advent of the internet information is now available to anyone and everyone who seeks that knowledge.  Embrace the newness and have no fear in shedding the old ways.  Plus I’ll clue you in.  It’s just hair. How do you embrace the versatility that is natural hair?  

p.s. My recipe for soft touchable hair. 
Herbal Essences Honey Im Strong Co-Wash 
Fantasia IC Pure Tea Silky Gel Moisturizer 
Cantu for Natural Hair Coconut Curl Cream

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