Me and this hair have been through it all...Saturday's in the kitchen, hours in the salon, home relaxers...you name it, we've been there. Feb 2009 I decided it was time to give my hair the love and affection it deserves.
This is a beautiful story that goes far beyond hair. Thank you Ann for sharing such an amazing story!♥
You can feature it or not, but here's my story. I think maybe it's worth telling and maybe it will help some other curly girl stand up for her curls. IF YOU HAVE CURLY HAIR, THE PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO LOVE YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR HAIR TOO. They may not always like how it looks, but they should still love your hair just the same - just because it's *your* hair.
I was a curly girl from the time I was small. The genetic lotto between both of my multiple mixed race parents decreed that I popped out with my maternal (Jewish) grandfather's red hair, my maternal grandmother's (Cherokee) golden skin tone, and father's Welsh ancestor's Hazel/Green eyes. However, I also got my African American ancestor's curls. In the infamous words of one of my uncles, "the only color our ancestors were concerned with was pink. Nothing else really seemed to matter much to them." My physical appearance is strictly the luck of the genetic lotto that occured during conception.
When I finally found a man that I settled down with, he didn't like curly hair. He said it was unruly and told me how much prettier it was when I straightened it. After much encouragement from him, I finally went more or less permanently straight. My hair didn't take to it well, but I manhandled it and forced it to be straight. I just wish I'd known then what I know now. That was the first of many things about he that he decided he needed to change. Little by little, over the 12 years we were together, he has changed where I work, who I associate with, and what activives I was allowed to participate in. It wasn't all at once. You see, if you'd have tried to steal my life in one big chunk, I'd have fought back. Instead it was one tiny slice at a a time.
Before I knew it, I wasn't doing any of the things I used to do. Gone was all the things that I used to do that were fun. Many of friendships that I had revolved around those activities and so a lot of those friends went with them. Slowly the relationship changed from one of mutual caring to one of control and emotional abuse. It was subtle and gradual. Then when my friends would complain to me about his behavior, he would isolate me from that person. One by one, I lost almost all of my friends. There is a scant handful of them left in my life now.
Things finally reached a head last fall. He actually had the nerve to tell me that my curls were N-ery and that's why he didn't like them. He admitted that he had wanted me to straighten my hair so that I'd look "whiter". Mind you, his family is Cajun - very mixed - so he has no room to be throwing around racist remarks. When I called him out on it, his reply was that at least he didn't look like a N-. We fought bitterly over that issue. It got to a point that at least one of my friends was concerned for my personal saftety, if not my sanity. She staged what amounts to an intervention to point out what he'd been doing. I'd been so busy looking at the trees, I failed to realize that I was in the middle of a forest. As a professional therapist, she was well aware of his behavior and she saw the patterns that I did not.
After what's been a fairly long and some what abusive relationship, I filed for divorce in January. One of my first acts of "rebellion" against the previous and externally established order in my life was to return to being a curly girl. Because of that, my curly hair has become a symbol of my newly found and hard won freedom. My curls are one part of my identity that I supressed and submerged in an attempt to be loveable. What did that get me? An abusive relationship that I now have to work to recover from. Now my curls are a banner. Any man who doesn't like my curls will be promptly told to take a hike.