Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Damn Unpretty

Sorry that I've been absent for this past couple of days, however when life gets in the way, blogging gets push to the side. I am happy to announce though, that I have received my first comment from none other than the beautiful and talented knitter named Saun from Saunshine. She has a ton of free patterns as well as some other beautiful items for pay that you can knit. Go check it out. It is worth your time.

Today’s Topic

So just to let you know I’ve cut my hair off GI Jane style in light of the heat. Here’s a picture:



This allows me to go into the saga that is my hair. I’ll start from the beginning.

Hair is a very important part of being a woman of my skin color. As a child growing up, my mother would always tell me that hair is a woman’s beauty and that she should keep it looking good at all times. When I was in elementary school I got a lot of help from my mother to keep my hair looking kempt. Then I turned 10 years old and my own natural/nappy/very curly hair wasn’t cutting it. So my mother did like any other women of African descent in the western hemisphere did to their female children’s hair after a certain age. She chemically straightened it or as the lingo goes “Permed” my hair (I know a perm is to make your hair curly but this is what it is called in my circle of friends and family). So I did that for the next 6 years of my life, hating every moment of it.

“Permed” hair prevented me from doing many normal things like swimming at the pool or running around in the rain because any type of moisture outside of weekly washings were death to my straight “beautiful” hair. Even more time and money were spent at the salon. Deep condition every 2 weeks and a “perm” every 8 weeks. This made hair prep a long and tedious process.

Then I turned 16 years old and that’s when the breakthrough took place. I decided that it was a complete waste of time, energy, and money to chemically straighten your hair. I didn’t like sitting in a stylist’s chair for half the day inhaling harmful chemicals that were being applied to my hair and I certainly didn’t like the association “permed” hair had with “sophistication” or “professional” all synonyms for “all right white” and “stand back black”.

It hit me that it was all self-hatred amongst blacks in the United States. Chemical strengtheners were not the way out to an easier morning routine just as how affirmative action was not a good solution to equality. Words like “nappy” and “kinky” all seemed too negative to me. It saddened me that every time I went to the hair care aisle at Wal-Mart all I saw geared toward African-American hair were “Perms” and artificial hair moisturizers that claimed they helped your hair when they really just weakened it further. The products on the shelves only reinforced the idea that in order to be beautiful I had to look as European as possible and it broke my heart.

So like any other girl trying to find out who she was back in high school, I did something drastic. I grew out my “perm” and started sporting an Afro. At first it was more of a political statement, sort of my way of fighting the power. Slowly my perception of my hair changed however, to the point where now I just see it as something that covers my head and keeps me warm during the winter.

I decided to cut my hair like a boy for many reasons. One is that I was tired of hearing the complaints of my family who hated that I rarely combed my hair (yes I am lazy in that department). Second, I realized that a ‘fro wasn’t necessarily a mature look and cutting it all was a gutsy move on my part. Finally, I figure it was time for some change in my life seeing that I just got my own apartment and am now a full-fledged adult not depending on my parents for money.

So if you would excuse me. I have to start knitting a ton of hats for the winter for my now hairless head.


betty said...

wow! what a cut!! your morning routine will be a breeze now! ;)

maluena said...

Hi Kelly,
I am a member of Barcelona Knits. I read the message you left at Betty´s blog and as I´m argentinean I got surprised that you have been living in my country for two years! Where did you live? In Buenos Aires?

Kelly said...

I lived in "el campo" this place 6 hours north of Buenos Aires named "Libertador San Martin". I was going to school out there trying to learn Spanish, which I hope I did based on the message I left Betty. The name of the school is Universidad Adventista del Plata. It was in the middle of no where but I made lots of friends and learned some pretty good spanish. Most likely I'll make it a post one day and share it with everyone seeing that learning languages is a big part of my existence.

E to the M said...

My daughter doesn't have super kinky hair because I'm European but I wanted her to learn early on that all hair is good hair. I found this great book by Bell Hooks (Class Matters) and bought it for her instantly.
I think she's unconcerned with her hair, she just wants it short in this heat but isn't concerned with it being other than it is (except that she wants it dyed like a rainbow).

I love the new 'do.

KnitaholicSkylar said...

Welcome to blogland!

Nik said...

I love short haircuts because they make you pay more attention to a person's face.