…it’s progress, and it’s good.
It’s summer again in Texas, with most days hovering in the 90’s. I’m not complaining; for this area, we’ve not yet seen the full brunt of the heat, much less the humidity. In an earlier hair “chapter,” I posted pictures of the effect of the humidity on my hair. So this year, one year wiser, I decided not to even deal with shrunken locks and a Jheri curl-like look. After the oldest’s high school graduation, I pinned my hair up in 2-stranded twists and left it there, only unraveling the up-do on every other day to moisturize and add a bit of coconut or jojoba oil to the roots. So, unless there is somewhere to go that warrants, in my mind, a more formal appearance, this is my summer look.
Yes, my gray is on full display. Truth is, I’ve not decided what to do about it just yet, or if I should do anything about it. What I really want to do–most of the time–is to use a henna rinse. But I’m afraid of three things:
1) the mess I’ve read about
2) the protein-like effect of henna, which might be too much for my already sensitive edges (I just got my edges back, thanks to using castor oil!)
3) changing my hair color to something outrageous that looks little like what I envisioned when I mixed the henna
Then, there’s this whole “thing” I have about growing gray hair. My husband, with a countable number of gray hairs (I think he’s hit 3 as of this writing) is totally freaking out about his “change of season,” shall we say. I, on the other hand, have a very anti-societal response to aging and graying. I don’t feel in any way fearful or embarrassed about growing older; I love that my skin still looks fairly young, and that I don’t wear make-up (except for lipstick). I readily tell people my age if asked, and I often speak in terms of my age as being “middle-aged,” “more seasoned,” or “closing in on 50.” Hence, I don’t feel the need to hide my gray–on most days. Besides, 95% of it is in my front hairline; on days when I take down my hair, the gray isn’t visible unless a person is very close to me. I look like my profile picture. As I said, that’s most days. Every now and then, however, I see someone looking at my gray with this sympathetic-like stare, as if I obviously don’t know any better, or that maybe I can’t afford to do any better. At least, that’s what I feel. Those are the days when I think, “I really need to do something about this gray hair.” But the part of me that detests caving in to social pressure to look or be a certain way quickly reminds that temporarily uncomfortable side that I don’t mind my gray; my husband doesn’t have a problem with my gray (though he stresses about his own). Don’t do anything until you’re sure, I say to myself.
So, each day that I do nothing about it, I conclude that it’s one more day that I don’t really have to make a decision.
In the meantime, I am thankful for progress, and for growth–outside, but primarily within. These are shots of my hair after taking down my mini-twists on last August, 1 month before I cut out the last of my perm (and 21 months after I began my transition to natural hair).
These are shots of my hair after taking down my mini-twists in March of this year.
I know length is an issue all its own in the natural hair community as well as in African-American culture in general. Indeed, I am happy to see the length of my hair return (and then an inch or two); with all of the changes the body undergoes as it ages, I was very concerned that all the hype I see on YouTube would never happen to me. What is more important to me is a thickness and a health that I’d not seen in many years–perhaps since the birth of our first child.
What is most important to me is my sense of self. My smile is bigger, my glow is healthier, and I am thankful for having shed another layer of someone’s else’s expectations of me (which became my expectation of myself) via long, straight hair. I love seeing other women who have either gone natural or are thinking about it and subsequently having these wonderfully freeing conversations about products, regimen, and about us. I love that my husband has silly conversations about nighttime head scarf hatred and the realities of being with a natural-haired black woman (not such a silly conversation) with his friends whose girlfriends or wives who’ve gone natural. Most of all, I love looking in the mirror and thinking THIS. IS. WHO. I. AM.
That progress was slow, but it’s progress, and it’s good.