I was prompted to add this poem "Hair" written by me in February 2006 when I read my daughter's work online today titled in the same way .... I don't think she or anyone else has read it before so here it is as encouragment for anyone else out there who is not happy with their hair ....
It came late - my acceptance of my hair
Rather like Alice Walker.
I remember identifying with her
When reading one of her many books
Admittedly hers was the negro woman's fierce curl
But even so ...
An early recollection
Maybe I would be about six years old
At primary school anyway.
The routine of the
Hairbrushing ceremony was daily
And lasted what seemed like an eternity.
I would stand
Legs itching as mother
Brushed and brushed and brushed
At the long, thick, natural hair.
I would fidget with impatience
Often resulting in a swift clonck on the head
With the Mason-Pearson brush
And a "keep still I've nearly finished".
Eventually it would appear almost smooth
And rid of all tangles or lugs
As they were called
Finally the positioning of the bow
The hair ribbon, on the side.
Brush, brush and hundred times brush
Morning and night
Suppressing what was natural.
This was what people did then - maybe it was hygiene
Maybe a hanging on to some deeply significant
Victorian sexual cleansing
Now when a child is born
With naturally wavy, kinky, curly hair
It is not brushed.
Like my grand-daughter Pandora
With her curls
It is washed and teased a little
Encouraged even, maybe with a little
And then allowed to do its own thing
Teenage years brought me much
I hated its wilfulness
It was the 60's
The trendy sixties
Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Cathy McGowan
All the idols and role models around me
Had these wonderful spiteful,
Straight, assymetric haircuts
Shiny, glossy and straight, straight, straight
I ironed my hair
Yes, unbelievable isn't it?
Over brown paper
I sellotaped it
I blew it straight with a dryer.
All to no avail.
As soon as I went outside
Any damp in the atmosphere
Off it would go in natural naughtiness.
Admittedly in the 70's I was laughing
I came into my own!
All around were having curly perms
I just got the hairdresser to cut it to shape
Voila - my afro - yeh!
But even in quite recent years as fashions changed
I tried to suppress it
My hair was chemically straightened
But it fought back bit by bit and won
And became what it is today
And I guess for my years
I should say "oh lucky me"
A thick headful of wilful locks
Well, guess what
I truly have learned to accept
My God-given curly/wavy/kinky hair
Which He chose to bestow on me
I think He gave it as part of my identity
It took many, many years to get there
To get over the self hair-hatred
And now, and it's not a matter of pride
I'm happy with who and what I am
And that includes, quite naturally, my tresses.