In Black culture, hair is legit life! There is huge symbolism and importance to hair, it’s almost ritualistic. We know this isn’t central to solely in Black culture, but also many other cultures. Many of us can recount the hours we spent in our mother’s laps having our hair braided, we have previously blogged about it The Struggle Is Hair, whether we wanted it or not our hair HAD to be set for the week ahead, even down to the midweek grease sessions. So, it’s not a surprise that once we found out R1 was having a girl, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on her hair! This blog post is dedicated to all things braids/braiding and how important it has become to us.
We have a complicated relationship with hair, especially with it in its natural form, but it wasn’t long into my natural hair transition that I began to really appreciate my hair and all the “history” and symbolism it held for me. It’s like we’ve been conditioned to not appreciate or love our own, we buy into the products to straighten, strip and shock our hair into looking like it’s not meant to. When I found out I was pregnant, I was adamant that I wouldn’t pass on to my daughter any form of self-hate and of course, this included her hair.
I know, I know- she is mixed raced so her hair isn’t like mine, but there was still no reason for her to believe that she needed to change anything about herself. I will admit when she was born and I was able to “assess” the hair on her head-it wasn’t like any hair on a mixed child that I had come into contact with before. Maybe it’s a throwback to my grandfather who is mixed raced himself, but her hair is very curly, but different all at the same time. It has zero traces of the infamous “kink” you normally find in Black hair. It tangles just by looking at it. I will admit that it did take me some time to get used to her hair, to understand what it needed and how to manage it. At first, her hair was very straight, but always thick, her hair never thinned or fell out, it was more about taming it. As her hair grew longer, it was then that the curls grew in and then that it was oh so cute! I loved this stage! Her hair was so curly, but because it was still short, it didn’t tangle as much as it does now. My main routine with her was to simply wash, part, apply coconut oil and then style it in 4 sections, it was still too short to braid or twist and to be honest- her hair was so silky, it didn’t keep. As her hair lengthened, it was then that I began to play with different styles, from sectioning it in many areas with lots of elastics, to trying tiny twists on her hair.
It was at the styling process that I began to feel more connection not only with my daughter but also with my mother. Maybe it was the realization that I was taking part in something with my daughter that my mother had also done with me. I found the fact that the sky or merely my “talent” was literally the limit when it came to styling her hair- there weren’t any restrictions on the looks or styles I could try! Whether it’s because I have been blessed with a daughter or it’s because I am passing on or taking part in something that my mother did with me. A process which allowed us countless hours of conversation and laughter, I can’t really pinpoint the real reason. But, as an adult, looking back, I realize that some of the moments where I got to know my mother best or saw her as a person and not just the person you listen to, was when she was doing my hair. I am fully aware that age and just becoming more assured in who I am, is part of the reason that I feel more connected, not only to my mother but also to my culture. I feel like I am taking part in a ritual and I am passing this on to my daughter, even in the smallest way. Don’t get it twisted, I am in no way as talented or even skilled as some of the YouTube hair bloggers out there, but I have to #humblebrag at the how far I have come and the fun styles I have been able to come up with! One thing I believe though, outside of her great genes which gave her such long, thick, healthy hair, keeping her hair in “protective” styles has helped to maintain the health of her hair.
What “tradition” did your parents do with you, that you are now doing with your own children? Let us know! Plus, I will gladly accept any hair tips you might have, share away!