I Was Supposed To Have Good Hair

Ijeoma Oluo
The Establishment
Published in
10 min readMar 24, 2017

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Adapted from Wikimedia Commons

It took me a long time to see my hair as part of my self and my heritage, where before it had only been part of my oppression.

When I was 6, I saw an episode of Rainbow Brite where all the Color Kids went to bed wishing for long hair, and woke up with glorious, flowing tresses down to their waists. Even Indigo, the black Color Kid (black in skin, Indigo in clothing) had shampoo-commercial-worthy locks. I wished so hard right there and then, and every night for weeks later, for long, silky hair, that I can still vividly recall my feelings of envy, hope, and eventual despair 30 years later.

My mom adored my hair. She would lovingly braid my hair in two French braids every morning, with ribbons woven in to match my outfit. We would fight tangles and she would say “pull against me!” as I gritted my teeth against the ripping sound made as the comb burst free. I went to school every day with my hair on point. My edges when I wore a puff were sleek, my braids were neat, my ponytail holders and barrettes always matched my clothes. I always smelled of shampoo, hair grease, and Pink hair lotion.

And I hated it.

I hated my hair so much. I watched MTV and saw the wigs that Whitney Houston wore in her videos and, not knowing that they were in…

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Ijeoma Oluo
The Establishment

Come for the feminist rants..stay for the selfies and kid quotes. Inclusive feminism here.