By Zeba Blay for The Huffington Post
I only wore my hair natural maybe a handful of times last year.
If my hair wasn’t wrapped up in box braids or faux locs, it was blown out and flat-ironed straight, or thrown under a scarf. Why is that? Part of my reasoning would be “protective styling” — low manipulation hair styles that will protect my hair during the winter months as I try to grow it out. But if I’m honest, another reason is that, while I love natural hair, I don’t always love my natural hair.
I love my kinky-curly texture of hair, but I don’t love the time and energy it takes to take care of it. Wash day spans over two days. Detangling alone takes hours. The only way to define my curls is through an arduous process of twists and braids to stretch out my incredibly tight curls. My full hair-length never shows because my hair shrinks to about 50 percent of its actual length if there’s even a drop of moisture in the air, which is especially annoying. This is my hair, and I love it, but I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t frustrate me sometimes, that I’ve never, for a split second, contemplated just giving up and slapping a relaxer on my head.
But part of my frustration also lies in being unable to turn to women who share my hair texture or hair woes. My hair’s difficulties doesn’t make it any less beautiful, but in the natural hair community, hair that doesn’t perfectly “lay,” that doesn’t respond to gels and pomades and yield easily defined twist-outs is neither celebrated nor admired nearly as much as hair that does. Deep down, perhaps part of my desire to deal with my hair as little as possible is a symptom of colorism in the hair community — the idea that because my hair is more kinky than curly, I shouldn’t be as proud to show it off.