Please welcome my first guest-blogger, my Cousin Jasmine…Give her some love!
Very early in Calandra’s video blogging, she based an entry on a question her new-mom cousin asked about going on intuition vs. advice. That new-mom cousin was me, Jasmine Ratliff. Recently I asked Calandra if I could occasionally contribute to This and That as my way of slowly entering the blogging world. In the spirit of This and That, my posts will be random thoughts about daily life as a mother, wife, Black woman, working stiff, movie fan, and more. So here’s my first entry–hope you enjoy!
Calandra’s lovely new natural ‘do and hair story video got me thinking about Black women and our hair. Last year I posted a status on Facebook that probably got as much reaction as the announcement of my daughter’s arrival. It was something along the lines of “I think I’m going to put a relaxer back in my hair.” The comments were swift and clearly divided: my natural friends cried “NO!!”, my relaxed friends celebrated “Woo hoo!” Gotta admit I was surprised and yet pretty amused at the very strong opinions some of us have with our hair.
I went natural in college. It wasn’t a coming-into-myself, discovering my roots, connecting with the motherland type of decision; I simply didn’t like doing my hair anymore. Up to that point I had gone through straightening comb and paper-bag roller sessions as a child, crimping irons, finger-waves and braids (a la Janet Jackson in “Poetic Justice”) as an early teen, then steadily cutting it shorter and shorter as a late teen and early adult. By my 3rd year of college I was simply sick of dealing with it. So one day after completing a mid-term I called my hair-dresser and made an appointment for later in the day. I arrived and said “cut it all off.” I wasn’t bald but it was pretty damn short. But I got compliments and ended up keeping it natural for 12 years. It ranged in length from super-short to Angela Davis huge. I twisted it, colored it (including an unfortunate blonde experimentation), cornrowed it and hot-ironed it. Last year I got tired of looking at the afro and back to a relaxer I went. Loving the new look; it’s like seeing a different version of yourself, like when you try new make up. The only thing I miss is not feeling the shower run through my hair every day. Ah well, with change comes some sacrifices…
I think of hair as an accessory, another way to express your personality & style. It’s something fun to play with and get as adventurous as your imagination–and maybe profession–allows. Black women’s “hair-itage” (sorry, couldn’t resist) includes both Afros and chemically straightened (thank you Madame C.J. Walker) and everything in between. I embrace it all. This is not a knock on women who are committed to one look or another, it’s just my outlook on my personal look.
My daughter has hair like mine in it’s natural state: crazy thick and really curly. I absolutely love playing with it. I’ve done poofs, braids (still learning to cornrow) and let it go free. I’m glad that my experience with natural hair helped me figure what products I prefer on her hair, which I would imagine could be puzzling for some who’ve only been relaxed. I’ll teach her our hair history and hope that I instill in her the same fun attitude towards personal style. And I’ll let her decide where to go from there.