I had the most delightful conversation with myself today.
I am an African American woman, living in a world where the Eurocentric opinion of beauty has been dominant. As such, African Americans grew up talking about “good hair” and “bad hair.” “Theirs” was “good,” because it was silky and straight, or so we were told. Ours was “bad” because it was nappy.
Well, today I was looking at my hair and complaining that it didn’t look right …and then I laughed. “Girl,” I said, “you’ve got some good hair!
Because of the distinction between “good” and “bad,” African American women (and men) grew up doing the most dastardly things to make our hair “good,” like “theirs,” which meant putting horrible chemicals on our hair to straighten it out.
It has taken a long time, but “we” have finally gotten it: chemicals are NOT “good” for our “bad” hair. Chemicals make it break off and get brittle and stupid looking.
So, more and more of us have opted for “bad” hair, meaning “natural” hair. What I have preached is that we have been confused; any hair on one’s head is “good.”
Ask someone who is bald, or is balding. They’ll tell you.
Well, I am moving from having chemicals on my hair to not having them. Oh, I’ve done it before, but this time is the deal breaker. No more of that stuff for me. When I look at my hair now, and smile as it puffs up from moisture from natural humidity or from the steam in the shower, I just smile.
That’s some good hair! When it looks stupid, meaning it’s not going the way I want it to go, it’s still good…because it’s mine! Having “good” hair is as good as having one’s own teeth! And, being free enough to look like I am, instead of how someone thinks I ought to look, is so liberating it makes me giddy!
Getting older is about getting wiser; the things that used to stump us when we were younger ought not have the same power over us as we get older and are able to put things into perspective. I am who I am; I look like me, and nobody else …and it’s good enough. I’ve got hair on my head, and therefore, I have good hair. I don’t have to look European to be beautiful. I am beautiful as I am, even on bad hair days… At least, the problem is “good” hair not behaving, as opposed to “bad” hair being a badge of shame.
I had to write this, because it hit me that I am so getting free of pro-scripted definitions of what is “right” and “good.” When God made me, foibles and all, He/She, “it is good.”
And I finally agree with God, on all counts …including my hair.
It’s a personal, candid observation.
2 thoughts on “Good Hair, Bad Hair”
Pastor, you sure know how to tell it like it is. I remember watching 400 years without a comb; it is a film that talks about our roots and the beauty of our hair I wish I could find that film I would watch it with my grandchildren. Our hair is beautiful and we as African Americans can do so much more with our hair in the natural state. I thank you for this; and reminding how beautiful and wonderfully design my hair is!
Free is definitely a way to describe it. I have been natural for one year and it has been a spirtual journey for me. I enjoy sharing with others my hair journey hoping to inspire them to free themselves too.