My parents were born in the Dominican Republic and my mother is half Chinese. I’m one of those people who is constantly asked “What are you?” as if I’m some sort of space alien. Sometimes I wonder whether draping myself in an American flag would help, but I doubt it. I’m told I look exotic, which I think might be a back-handed compliment. I guess a person can’t look American unless one has blonde hair and blue eyes (which is funny because most of the first true Americans had neither). I’m proud of my heritage but the questions are tiresome.
Nothing interests nosy people more than my hair. Is it a perm? Do I twist it to make it curly? Is it real? Why is it straight today? Is that a wig?
Truthfully my relationship with my hair is a lot less complicated than it appears.
My hair is curly but fairly easy to manage. It looks nice curly and straight. I’m pretty lucky. If I get bored with it one way it’s easy to switch it up. I spend a lot of time on various social media channels and I’ve noticed the explosion in the natural hair movement. I think it’s wonderful. All women should feel comfortable and beautiful with their natural given beauty. Women shouldn’t have to conform to an unattainable beauty ideal to look or feel good. There is beauty within all of us and it’s better to embrace it and emphasize our strengths than to spend hundreds of hours and dollars trying to make ourselves something we aren’t.
As a child I remember visiting the hair salon whenever I wanted a change. My mother was pretty flexible about allowing me to relax or straighten my hair when I wanted to. She has fairly fine hair that is easily managed and understood the hair battles I faced. Keeping my natural hair tame while also juggling school and extracurricular events wasn’t happening. Straightening my hair and keeping it in a ponytail allowed me to spend my morning hair prep time on other things.
I do remember other Latina women making the occasional disparaging comment about how they didn’t have to straighten their hair. As if there was something wrong with me because I did. In high school there was also the rare white girl who’d call my hair nappy in a feeble attempt to hurt my feelings. Didn’t work. I was comfortable with my looks whether I was wearing my naturally curly hair, relaxed hair, or temporarily straightened with a flat iron hair. My hair styling choices have never been about appealing to others’ aesthetic preferences. My choices are simply about my personal convenience.
However, I am not interested in natural hair. I’ve been there (not by choice) and it wasn’t pretty. I lived in Vermont, one of the whitest states in the country, for a few years. I took me a long time to find a good hairdresser who was comfortable working with ethnic hair. My hairdresser was talented and a hard worker. I never understood why some hairdressers feel it’s okay to only know how to style Caucasian hair. Didn’t they teach you anything at beauty school? Geez. Way to lose yourself a lot of business.
After living with my natural hair for a year or so while searching for a decent hairdresser I learned that it’s not for me. I am too
busy lazy. I prefer to either flat-iron or relax and blow dry my hair so that I don’t have to style it every day. I wake up in the morning with straight hair and go about my business. I’ve rocked the same parted on the side Marcia Brady-esque creation for some time and couldn’t care less. It’s easy for me to maintain and that’s what is most important to me.
Maintaining natural hair properly requires attention and care that I am incapable of. My lifestyle requires a low maintenance minimal fuss hair option. I admit that I don’t know much about natural hair besides my personal experience and reading a few informational blogs. I remember what my hair looked like during my natural streak and unless I had a lot of time to work with it I looked like a mess. It took me a lot of effort to make it look presentable outside of a bun. I’m all set. I like heat and chemicals when needed.
I’ll do anything for a few extra minutes of sleep.
Do you prefer a natural hair? Why or why not?