On Being a Black TCK/Expat: Hair. (Part 2)


For part 1 of this series, click here

Re-embracing my natural hair has been a big deal for me. It’s almost a passive-aggressive way of getting back at the bullies who taunted me for my afro years ago in grade school. If you happen to be one of those people, well, I’m surprised that you’re reading this first of all. Secondly, I think my hair is absolutely wonderful although you thought my hair was not “good hair”. Thirdly, and most importantly, no hard feelings. 🙂

While living in America, I have learned that this concept of “good hair” is deep-seated in African-American history. Information concerning this is readily available various forms of media, many of which include one of my favorite, highly recommended documentaries, Good Hair. During the period of slavery in America, it was common for slave masters to treat light-skinned slaves who had caucasian-like hair much better than dark-skinned, “nappy-headed” slaves. This is what sparked some intraracial conflict between light-skinned and dark-skinned  black folks which unfortunately still exists today. Many believe that it is also the reason why African-American women are so invested in achieving hairstyles that subscribe to this Eurocentric standard of beauty.

It’s interesting because regardless of this beauty standard, my hair has sparked a lot interest from non-black people; many of them touch my hair with or without my permission. Natural-haired black women feel differently about this issue of hair touching, but I actually love it! I also love informing my curious non-black friends on natural hair care, and seeing them react to them touching my hair and hearing them say, “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” Okay, so maybe they didn’t exactly say that, but that Despicable Me reference just needed to happen.

Anyway, one statement that is often made by my non-black friends is that they would enjoy seeing more black women embrace their natural hair texture. Many of them find it to be beautiful. I definitely agree! In fact, many other “naturals” try to encourage other black women to embrace their natural hair.

However, I have seen an ugly side to it where this encouraging turns into forcing. No bueno.

The issue of African hair is as delicate as the hair strands of a natural-haired woman of African descent. In the same way a “natural” would not dare to use a harsh brush or comb on their hair, naturals (or anyone rather), need to not force a black woman to go natural. Cultural implications aside, maintaining relaxed hair is a lot easier than natural hair because hair maintenance of relaxed hair is, for the most part, less demanding. Plunging into the world of natural hair care is quite the dive as the haircare is quite different from relaxed haircare. When there is a moment in which a black woman chooses to go the natural route, let it be that it’s because she wants to, not because someone is making her. It’s only her personal decision that will translate into a true expression of her physical beauty; she will feel like she is beautiful and may others will catch on to it.

It turns out that my decision to embrace my natural, healthy hair texture a year ago had a positive ripple effect; my hair decision had an influence on my beautiful little sister, Lizzy. Unfortunately, she had been dealing with some hair damage, and often times, the go-to cover up for this issue was braids. At the time, my cousin, IJ, visited from England and she saw the damage for herself. She suggested that Lizzy get her haircut really short like I did and to be honest, I was nervous how Lizzy would take her suggestion. I was not so sure if she would be onboard with it although Lizzy is probably one of the most down-to-earth kids you will ever meet. She ended up happily willing to do it and so I cut her hair. Afterwards, I found out that the reason why she obliged was because she would look just like me and she thought I was pretty. That made me all kinds of happy. 🙂

Look at how beautiful she is! I love my baby Lizzy soooo much!

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  • I am so fascinated by this, and would be one of those people who wanted to feel what your hair was like – I have had this done to me many times as a ginger! 🙂
    Your hair is lovely (as I have written before) but what is so great about this is you are being a really positive role model for your younger sister. That is awesome! Kudos to you both!

    Molly @ The Move to America

  • Why thank you, Molly! I try to be the best role model I can for my sisters but sometimes I fail at that. For example, I have a bad habit of wearing mismatched socks. And Lizzy did it once and told my mom that she did it b/c I did it. Oops. Sorry Mom haha.

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