Crowning Glory


“Hair is a woman’s glory…” (Maya Angelou, Good Hair). Women have the ability to cut, color, relax, and perm their hair exactly how they want it. This ability to style one’s hair to her desire allows a woman to not only express herself creatively, but to also make a statement. Hair has more meaning than just sitting on our heads: hairstyling is a form of expression. (Dos Santos, 2012)

The above quote is an excerpt from a term paper I wrote for my African American Literature class last year. The assignment was probably one of the greatest tasks I’ve had to complete since I’ve been in college. I think its because I love talking about hair. To me, hair is more than just follicles. You can make a living off of these follicles. You can express how you’re feeling with these follicles. You can create art with these follicles. Most importantly, you can create tradition with these follciles. Think about it. From age 1-13 my mom would do my hair every Sunday. Every single Sunday. Detangling my hair would take a good 30 minutes. Then she would part it, do a few twists, and voilà! My hair was N A P P Y. Exhibit A:

Halloween, 2001

Photo on 2013-02-13 at 00.39

For 12 years my mom handled that. With gel. And totos. And scrunchies. And Luster’s Pink. And vazulina. But every Sunday, we established a routine. Sometimes we would go to my aunt’s house and my cousins would do my hair. It was the 90s so beads were all up in my hair. Every Sunday I knew that my hair was going to get done and I would cry half of the time because Cape Verdeans don’t believe in being tender headed. I can’t lie though, it was fun. Cousins and aunts talking about past hair styles, or what crazy stories they had about bad salon trips. Oh, salons. There’s nothing like going to a salon on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Sitting under the dryer for what seemed like 5 hours but was really a good 20 minutes. Funana and pasada blasting at full volume as everybody’s talking smack about Lele or Maria or Fufu or some other person. Even going to the salon is a tradtion. Whether you go once a week or once a year, you still expect the madness. My hair has been through it all. I relaxed it when I was in 8th grade because my mom and I thought it’d be easier for me to just go to the salon and get my hair blow-dried every 2 weeks. Hahahahaha! No, no, no. It costs money, it takes time, and my hair was straight for a good 2 days. Can’t forget the burning sensation as the “creamy crack” was being applied to my scalp. Oh, maybe I should explain what exactly a relaxer is. Here, take 2 seconds to read this and then come back:

Hey! I hope you read it because it took me 2 seconds to copy and paste the link to this post. Basically a relaxer “loosens” your curls and is “easier” to “manage”. As you can see, I’m so against relaxing! Please watch Chris Rock’s documentary on hair titled “Good Hair”. It’s worth your time. But okay, back to hair. I would go to the salon and relax my hair every 3 months. My becautiful, nappy, tight curls were getting shorter and shorter. I realized that trying to take the easy way out of caring for my hair was costing me my hair. I stopped in 10th grade and ever since then I’ve been natural (yeaaaaah, #teamnatural). My hair has recovered and I’ve gone from this:

to this:
Each year, I’ve started new traditions with my hair. Whether it’s doing a twist out every week or putting it up in a puff every few days, I’ve created my own tradations. But I will never forget my past traditions. The thing is, I didn’t “create” the twist out or the puff up-do or any other hairstyle. People have been twisting their hair and treating their hair with tea tree oil and shea butter for centuries. Traditions have been passed down. How? When I’m sitting on the cold tile floors as my mother is twisting my hair and my cousins are yapping away about their everyday rituals. Or when I’m sitting under the 900° degree dryer and the women next to me suggests I sleep with a silk pillowcase so my hair doesn’t break. There are so many more traditions for all hair-types and that’s the beauty of hair. The bonds we can build are based on what’s on top of our heads. I love my hair and I can do whatever the hell I want to with it. If I wanted to put weave in my hair tomorrow, I can and I wanted to dye my hair purple I can. Hair shouldn’t be restricted to what society (who’s society doe) tells us is beautiful hair. Do you boo, because your hair is your crowning glory. Oh and by the way, Yeezy’s The Glory has been stuck in my head since the first sentence of this post. YEEZY TAUGHT ME.

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