dinsdag 18 september 2012

Curly girls




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Splash, splash, splash.

"Abigail, you are making me wet!" I cried.

She shrugged in that typical little girl manner, and smiled apologetically.
I rubbed shampoo onto her head and she wiggled and squirmed as usual.
There was no way this kid could ever sit still.

I rinsed her hair with the shower and enjoyed how she leaned back,
closing her eyes while the warm water poured off her silky hair.
I smiled at the sight of her lovely curls.
The weight of the water stretched her hair, 
making it long and wavy, reaching halfway her back.

A triumphant grin appeared on my daughter's face. 
She shook her head in vanity.

"Now I have Lisa hair," she said.

I looked at her in confusion.

"Lisa hair?" I asked.

"Yes,  now my hair is just as long and beautiful as hers."

My heart shattered into a million pieces.
Lisa, was little girl from preschool with long blond hair.

They say life only flashes by when your dying,
but my life flashed by me at that very moment.
And according to the pain in my heart at that moment, 
I might as well have been dying.

I saw myself wishing, praying, for long smooth hair, 
like all the other girls in class.
I saw myself looking at advertisements, movies, magazines, 
admiring long silky hair.
White hair.

I felt discomfort,
 when a woman in the shop touched my little girl braids.
I felt the frustration,
 when I had to deal with breakage after a chemical treatment.

I heard people laugh  
when they saw my afro after I had taken my braids out.
I heard myself explaining again and again 
about weaves, braids and what my real hair looked like.

My girls have beautiful hair.
I have loved it ever since they were born.
I didn't mind taking care of it and nurturing it 
and had always loved the diversity of it.
Their beautiful curls filled me with pride and joy, 
because it was part of them.

Precious, whimsical, willful, beautiful.

But what had I done with my hair?
I had damaged it, hidden it, masked it.
I had been frustrated with it, 
I had cursed it, I had tried to change it.

That little girl in that bad tub was just being a little girl.
Don't we all think the grass is greener somewhere else?
Don't we all want to be someone else at some point.
I think her remark was innocent.

Ever since she was born, 
she had never heard anyone say anything to her less than that she was beautiful.

But that was not my experience.
That little girl that was me grew up in a world where apartheid existed,
She experienced hatred, racism, ignorance.
People told her she wasn't pretty because of her skin, because of her hair.

But looking at that girl in the bath tub, miles away, 
worlds away from that other girl.
There was a grown woman, that knew it was time to embrace herself.





There is a lot to be said about black hair.  I don't speak for anyone but myself.
 This is my story, these are my words. This only applies to me. 
I would not want anyone to take my words and apply it to every woman of color out there. 
So please, don't.








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