Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Where I'm from: The Hair Edition.


I'm from, "Sugar, you had to have heartburn 'cause that babygirl got a lot of hair!"  I'm from pink bows on baby afro-puffs but just for K-Mart pictures--otherwise a big, unrestrained fuzzball for everything else.

I'm from assembly line hair styling with Goody brushes and Blue Magic hair grease. I'm from, "Hold still",  from "Stop being so tender-headed," and from a smack on the back of the arm with a comb. I'm from "baby hair" with an old toothbrush and some Vaseline to hold it down.

I'm from "Let's play Beauty Shop!" and JoLai giving me my first (but not last) asymmetric haircut--with a pair of Fiskars Pinking Shears out of Mommy's sewing kit. I'm from bangs cut over bathroom sinks and a big pink sponge-roller in the front for eighteen out of twenty four of the hours in the day. I'm from Five-Minute Fast Set, Cream of Nature Shampoo and Pink Oil Moisturizer.

I'm from big multicolored hair "balls" and smaller ones tied on the ends of long twisted pony-tails. I'm from one pony-tail on the side, a zig-zag part down the middle, and two french braids that I did all by myself.

image credit

I'm from sitting on three phonebooks and running from pressing combs. I'm from not understanding the difference between my hair "holding heat" and you just burning my damn head over and over again.  I'm from "my hair normally comes to my neck but when I get it pressed out it goes all the way to the middle of my arm--for real!" I'm from "Shirley Temple curls" on big holidays and "kiss curls" on regular days--and fully warranted vanity when returning to everyday places like school and the neighborhood playground when those curls held up longer than intended.

I'm from braids with foil and multicolored beads that took my homegirl across the street the whole sleepover to do. I'm also from losing half of them while running barefoot down the block to catch the ice cream truck and crying all the way back. I'm from "but everybody else has a Jheri Curl!" and really, really wanting hair like Ola Ray on the Thriller video.

I'm from bright orange patches in the front from heavy-handed sprays of Sun-In and even brighter orange patches when the same homegirl who braided my hair alerted me that "regular old hydrogen peroxide would do the same thing." I'm from Kool Aid rinses in junior high water fountains. I'm from first relaxers that left my hair feeling like straw but hair that laid down on my head for the first time ever in a swimming pool. I'm from Beauty College makeshift hairdos that always came out like hair-don'ts.

I'm from first paychecks and first time getting the cut I really, really wanted. I'm from big flips and fly girl mullets, from "OOO BABY BABY! SALT 'N' PEPA IS HERE!" cool girl haircuts that I paid for with my own money from being the cashier at Foot Locker but couldn't maintain at home. I'm from "pretty sleeping", Gold'n'Hot crimping irons and leaving hot curlers plugged in overnight to get them "extra hot."

Maaaaan, I'm from ten dollar relaxers in Fredrick Douglass Hall but only five dollars if you bring your own chemicals. From washcloths with burned hot curler marks on them from cooling off marcel irons that your roommate bought from Sally Beauty Supply last week. I'm from the new Hawaiian Silky perm that was both Hawaiian-looking and silky-feeling for the first week until it promptly fell out.

All of it.

I'm from returning to the press and curl and chemical free life before it was "in" and vowing never to relax my hair again--but relaxing my hair again. I'm from Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice "dooky braids" while studying for boards and when rotating on Surgery.

I'm from horseshoe bobs and Pantene samples, from "do you got some Indian in you?" and "Do you got some tracks in your hair, girl?" I'm from drugstore highlights and Jazzing hair rinses, from Aphogee hair treatments and Sea Breeze poured on itchy scalps pre-scratched with rat tail combs.

I'm from "Please, just cut it off" and "Yes, ma'am, I'm sure I want it that short", from "No, ma'am, I'm not depressed," and "I'm sorry you think I'm ungrateful for cutting it." I'm from jet black rinses for style at first then later to cover up sprouts of gray.

I'm from T'Renee, Bernetta, Mommy, Deanna, Violet, Treasure, Stefano, Meechie, Supercuts, and, now, Sakinah. I'm from The Jackson Five, Prince, Bo Derek in 10, Beat Street, Anita Baker, and Halle Berry. I'm from Alberto VO5, Stay-Sof-Fro, PCJ, Affirm and sometimes nothing at all.

I'm from natural reddish and auburn highlights and semipermanent rinses and eventually grey parts likely grandmama had that are no longer undercover.

I'm from "Young, Gifted and Black" and a story nestled into every single strand.

I'm from "we love you no matter what" and finally being alright with me, my hair, and my journey. . . .

. . . . a journey I wouldn't take nothing for now.

Happy Tuesday.

So tell me. . . .Where YOU from? I just KNOW y'all have some good journeys--ALL of y'all!


  1. I'm from:

    My mama "gluing" hair bows to my follicularly-challenged head until I was two so people would stop telling her how handsome her "baby boy" was.

    Being told I had enough hair for three or four grown women.

    Rocking the worst 'fro ever to my cousin's wedding.

    A home where my father - who has never done my hair - refused to allow me to have my hair pressed or permed.

    Jumping double dutch so fast and furious that I almost knocked myself out with the plastic balls attached to the end of my plaits.

    Finally getting a perm at age 11 and having the most fun at a beach party ever - no hair worries!

    Asymmetrical bobs, Sun-in horrors, a burgundy rinse, flipped bangs and counting Prince and Jermaine Stewart as my top hair idols.

    Letting a college boyfriend's sister who was in cosmetology school practice her technique on my hair - finger waves, freezes, and french rolls oh my!

    Dancing so hard at a Q party in the Big Wreck that I sweated my PERM out!

    Enduring hours of wasted time at the shop so my stylist could - pick Little Ray-Ray up from school, eat a 2 piece right quick, or rinse this lady out so she can go.

    Sensitive scalp issues that made relaxers almost impossible to endure. Almost.

    Hearing my husband say "it's a girl" after a quick, painless labor.

    Marveling at the soft sweet hair on top of my baby's head.

    Deciding that I didn't want to relax my hair any more.

    Wearing braids and having my hair pressed for job interviews.

    Securing the job and starting my locs the very next week.

    Locs that I love and can't see myself without any time in the near future - unruly grays and all.

    Teaching my daughter to love the hair that grows out of her scalp.

    Not judging the way other women choose to rock their 'dos.

    1. Nerd Girl? I just love you. In case I haven't told you this lately, please know that I do. *clutching chest* I so very mean it.

  2. I'm from a place where my maternal grandmother's hair manifests on my scalp even though she is ten years deceased.

    The kind of hair that flummoxes even the hair stylists at it's thickness and weight of " all that hair " at the Black salons and " mucho pelo" at the Dominican ones.

    I'm from the kind of hair that caused girls to say about me-" she thinks she's white but she's really Puerto Rican" when both are the absolute opposite of truth.

    I'm from the days of four hours on Sundays to wash and blow dry my hair at home-in sections-with that rectangular shaped hand held dryer with the comb attachment-you know which one I mean.

    I'm from the days of two rope like ponytails with a sharp middle part , which is why to this day-to part my hair any other way requires bobby pins: lots of them.

    I'm of the belief that it really is just hair when it's all said and done- but recognize that if your hair is off be it a crap haircut/color/style-you feel just...off.

    That being said-never underestimate the power of a good...no...great hair day.

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

    1. Claro que si, mi amiga. Loving this and loving your grandmother living on through your luscious mane. :)

  3. Love this, Dr. M. And want so badly to respond with my own "Where I'm From..."

    In fact, I remember writing a similar entry (although not quite as much about hair!) when I used to blog - or journal as it was called in the good old days. You're right, by the way - I blogged (or journaled) for about ten years before I left it behind after my darling son died. Maybe I'll start again one day.

    But alas, a 12 hour day has left me brain dead. If possible, I'll work on my own, "Where I'm From..." I think you'd be surprised. Smiles and love...

    Jae in Clayton

    1. Sweet Jae, It doesn't surprise me that you were one of the original bloggers. I am sorry to hear of your son leaving before his mother. There is nothing natural about parents burying their children. . .so much so that there isn't even a word in the English language to describe a mother who has lost her child.

      I hope you return to writing. It is free but highly effective therapy. Thank you for sharing that with us. Another dear friend of mine who I know reads this blog faithfully knows this pain that you feel. You'd be surprised what a comfort it probably is to her to simply read that she is not alone.

      If you write, I will read. I bet she will, too.

      xo, KM

  4. I'm from the land of "chicken hair" the kind of hair on a baby that stands straight up from the scalp.

    I'm from Little Miss Toni home perms that smelled to high heaven and didn't accomplish what they promised. At. All.

    I'm from braids and crookedly cut bangs and later Spoolies and pink foam curlers, then the hard plastic ones. (like sleeping on a zillion film cannisters.)

    I'm from a flip that I did myself and was most proud of but that was reliable only on cool clear days with no humidity.

    I'm from long straight hair that was all the way to my waist and FINALLy in style. Then from a shorter version of that because it wouldn't fit under my nurses cap and no barette on earth could hold it.

    I'm from, "Girl, I have never seen such straight hair. Never. In. My. Life."

    I'm from the worst haircut ever done right before graduation when I would have the most photos of myself in my white uniform and cap and gown. The young male stylist did not understand my flood of tears but I didn't pay for the cut.

    I'm from a Dorothy Hammill wedge, an 80s perm "big hair", a Farrah Fawcett do, and now a short, respectable and I think stylish cut. Oh and I'm also from touch ups to cover up the grey and the occasional foil highlights.

    Same story different chapter. I love your posts.

    1. Okay, Mary Alice. Can I PLEASE tell you that I am squealing and clapping with glee at the Dorothy Hammill reference? And Farrah? You mean Farrah in the red bathing suit hanging in a poster on every young man's wall? Awww man. I am loving your version. Loving it!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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