Never will I forget the moment I saw my mother cry for the very first time. It was quite a sad and mostly embarrassing moment. Not for my mother – not at all. For me!
You see – my mother wasn’t crying out of sadness or deep remorse. Au contraire my friend. She was crying of laughter! She laughed and cried so hard: she literally fell of her chair! Which probably made the whole thing even more embarrassing. What happened? Well, I was 7 years old, and I had just made the worst mistake in a child’s life.
After a long weekend, somewhere in the 90’s, all the cool girls in my class suddenly all had a fringe. Not necessarily a big deal. But in a small town with no more than 12,000 people, I was the only girl in my school that was of colour. And if I remember this right: I might have been the only girl in class with curly hair. Tomorrow would be picture day at school; I was absolutely excited! This was my chance to shine in our hallway, and look like all the cool kids in my class. So the same day – after I came back from school – I boldly cut my own fringe!
The excitement however, turned into immediate disappointment; and from disappointment to absolute despair. Because unlike the way my new ‘do’ appeared in my imagination, my hair did not hang straight and gracefully above my eyebrows. Not at all! It was more of a frizzy, round curly ball of wool, stuck at the front of my face. Yes! Just like a poodle (no offence to all the cute poodles out there. You still rock it!).What had I done? How could I have been so stupid? I ran downstairs crying for my mom.Afraid my mom would punish me or not grand me any dessert that evening, I shamelessly admit that I cried even harder.
My mother? Well, she took one good look at me. Then her eyes widened, her ears and cheeks turned red, her mouth opened, and a similar sound to King Kong laughing belted passed her lips. When she tumbled of her chair not even trying to control her random burst of schadenfreude: I knew that picture was going to be ruined!
About 3 years later, I made the second biggest mistake. My aunt and my cousins used to relax their hair to make it straight. Their long and beautiful straight hair caused some serious hair envy. I asked my aunt to relax my hair. Unfortunately the box didn’t say anything about the dangers of relaxing very thin hair. So with no heated warnings, I decided to show off my new hair at the local outdoor pool.
I went swimming for three days in a row – until half my hair started floating around the deep end. My friends, and a bunch of other kids I did not know, quickly started pointing at Cousin It skinny-dipping in the water. Sadly to say, my aunt had to cut my remaining hair into a very badly misshapen bob. I bought a hat and cried for weeks.
Luckily for me, there were no creepy school photos to prove it this time. But it was truly the end of my newly regained coolness after my first hair-disaster. Having cute straight hair now seemed even further away – as did my chances of ever getting a boyfriend in this town.
At 16 I realised that my curly curls made me a little special. Instead of fighting them; I fought the thought of keeping them in check. Hold on! This does not mean that everything goes uphill in my story from now on. No, no, no, no darling. I misunderstood my hair completely. It was like my hair and I went to a different Fight Club, and because of the main rule in Fight Club (Best Movie Ever!), we did not speak to each other at all. I overly smeared my hair with coconut butters and oily shampoos that were just too heavy for my hair. And my hair silently endured the heavy beating without telling me her secrets. Bad
At 20, I finally discovered the true meaning of ‘less is’ more for my hair. I’m saying hair, as this surely doesn’t always count for apparel. I found the right shampoo, light conditioner, leave-in spray and oil. But my hair did encounter a new antagonist. Prejudice! I’m sure you other curlies have experienced this one. The misjudgement you get from people who give you little labels. In my home country, my curly hair made me look a bit North-African. Due to all the bias, I felt the need to straighten my hair for every job-interview – just to avoid the following question: “You have lovely exotic hair, where did you get that from?”. These days I still give my hair an extra finishing touch before a job-interview. But now that my credentials speak for itself: I don’t feel the need to hide or polish my hair to look like the rest in class. I realised it wasn’t really other people’s prejudice; but giving other’s the chance for me to believe that prejudice. Now my bold and naturally curly hair only emphasises the strong person (and devoted professional) I am. Next to that, the only hair envy I still have is for the likes of Alicia Keys, Shakira, Diana Ross and a bit of Bob Ross. Fringe or no fringe!