A Breakup Letter to My Natural Hair
I don’t want this to be long, but there is something I need to explain that has been pressing my heart and my mind.
When I met you, you said you were a childhood friend. I couldn’t remember you — I was in a serious relationship with my perm. At the time, things between me and my perm were complicated. I was using my perm to hide my insecurities; I felt like I could never be myself. I held on to my tired, straight ends because I craved reassertion. I felt like I could accept myself more, and I believed the world would be pleased.
We’d hang out sometimes. You always told me, “Michelene, you’re so beautiful. Why are you still holding on to a perm?” Confused, I’d say, “Because I need it. Are you crazy?” Deep down inside though, my perm didn’t, couldn’t make me feel as stunning as you did. With enough time and support, you gave me the strength to let it go.
I let go of every inch for you. I only had 10 millimeters of hair and a face full of blemishes. I moved on with you, but the luggage I brought with me was fit for a diva. At first I was unsure about everything. Embracing you in public felt weird. I wondered if people would perceive me different. Despite my initial shame, you understood that adjusting was going to be a long process.
Our love became unapologetic. I felt like we could conquer everything. You took me across the world so I could start a journey back to myself. You showed me places that I never thought I would see within myself. For that, I will be grateful forever.
Now, four years and three inches later, I can’t say I am as happy as when we started. It’s not you, it’s me. When I took up blogging I thought I could always stay true to myself and you — my short kinky hair. It is painful to tell you this but a lot of people aren’t impressed by you. They don’t see the beauty in you like I do. When I want to embrace you in public, on a natural hair blog, most natural hair blogs ignore my submissions.Do you know how much that makes me cringe that we don’t fit in? At first I thought my pictures could have been better. Today I stopped telling myself that lie. On Instagram, most of them liked on our pictures but haven’t find us valuable enough to highlight ( and dammit as blogger aspiring to be successful, I can’t afford to be featured only once). I scanned the blogs and I began realizing a pattern — probably 70% of all the girls featured had luscious long curls. After that I’d say 30% had medium length curls, and the last 10% was reserved for the baldies like us. This is not one blog, this is the majority of blogs. Baby, open your eyes and take a long look! Don’t even get me started on facial features. I realize now that natural hair is only beautiful when it is long enough to be “exotic”.
I never fathomed the natural hair movement would tear our love apart. It’s unfair. I feel like this is Black on Black crime. However, I can’t even complain because there will always be a winner and a loser. I have to assimilate or put myself through extra road bumps on the path to success. You see, I already have an uphill battle to fight if I want to make it. I may be 25% non-Black but it doesn’t show at all. I can’t have a large nose and no hair. Sure Lupita was one of the rarities, but the world isn’t really ready for short-natural hair. The world isn’t ready for us yet.
So, I am at a fork in the road. I want to keep you in my life. On the other hand I can’t make the progress I need to make. I can’t imagine my world without you, yet I can’t make it in the world with you. At this time in my life I need someone that can fit my long-term goals — I need longer hair. I am not sure if I am making the biggest mistake giving you up since you have become part of my identity. For now though, I want to take a break. I just need to keep you under wraps and wig caps until you start growing again. Please don’t be hurt.
It was a great ride, but every great drive comes to an end. I hope that you can look past your emotions and understand where I am coming from. I’m moving on and with enough time so will you. I pray that one day our love can be accepted and displayed in public as equally as others. Maybe one day I’ll gather enough strength to love you in front of the whole world. Until that day comes, I’ll see you later.
With eternal love,
Originally published at michelenejlife.com on November 26, 2014.