Sometimes I get a curious and intrigued face when I tell someone the name of my blog. It’s a good thing because that’s exactly the reaction I want to incite when people hear or read ‘With Might and Mane’. I wanted it to be simple enough for them to get an idea of what it means right away, but have enough vagueness to make them ponder past immediate understanding into curiosity.
The way I got my blog name has to do in part with my decision to go natural this passed March and the journey that is to come with it. Today, I am going to tell you all the reasons I decided to stop straightening my hair and go natural. But, before I do, it’s important that I first tell a story of something that happened to me when I was young, but that I never really shared with anyone.
I believe, as a black woman, hair is definitely not just a physical trait, but an experience. And I am sure many other black women can relate to that. I also believe that hair, for a black woman in a north american society where European beauty is celebrated, can be an equally beautiful and daunting experience.
Growing up, I was never really afraid of wearing my hair in its natural state. I liked it, it was fun; it was different. I often got attention for it, with kind comments. But the first day, I learned that not everyone would greet my fro as a beautiful head of hair, was the first time I felt utterly ashamed of my natural hair. That day I decided to go to school with my hair fully out-n-about with a colorful scarf tied around the edges to keep my hair out of my face. I was in art class, and where I sat that day happened to be in front of a few students. The boy who sat behind me asked to borrow my eraser, and I gladly loaned it to him. After some time, I heard the whole table of students behind me giggling and snickering at something that they obviously found really hilarious, but were trying to keep quiet about so the teacher wouldn’t write them up. I turned my head to the right a few times to see if I could catch a glimpse of what was so funny; I wanted in on the joke too! But, I never figured it out.
A few minutes after deciding to give it a rest and just pay attention to the teacher, I saw a small reddish-pink object fly past from behind me just to the right of my head and unto the floor in front of me. “What the heck is that?” I thought. And I remembered how I thought I felt something drop in my hair just a moment prior. I heard more snickering from behind me when the small object flew passed my head. I brushed it off, thinking I was probably imagining things, until of course I felt something drop in my hair again… followed by more snickering. Then I knew what was going on. And because I was such a quiet and shy kid, I did nothing to tell them to stop.
I knew what they were doing, I knew they were laughing at me. And I let them. At the end of class, the boy returned my eraser which now had several miniature holes in it, as if a small rodent had been nibbling one end. And even though I already understood what was happening during class, getting back my eraser with all the holes in it made the embarrassment I already felt escalate even more.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been the butt of a joke, I’d been picked on before at another school. But, it was the first time my hair had been at the root of it and even though I didn’t stop wearing my hair natural from time to time, that experience definitely played into how I carried myself when I wore my hair natural from then on. I know that experience may seem small or insignificant to some people, because really there are worse things that can happen to students at school, and I fully understand that. However, that event, for a long time, played a lot into my subconscious mind when it came to how I dressed and what I saw as beautiful.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I never thought to myself that someone else’s naturally curly hair wasn’t beautiful from that point on (as a matter of fact I always looked at other curly girls in awe), I just thought that my natural hair wasn’t. I’d often refer to my hair in it’s natural state as ‘scary’ or ‘wild’ (and not in the fun playful sense of wild). So, I resorted to straightening my hair every two weeks for the last 12 years.
Fast forward to February 2015, and my hair was damaged beyond repair — breakage, dryness and severe heat damage. So, I decided February would be the last time I would have straightened hair (at least for a long time) and that March would mark the start of my natural hair journey. And, as embarrassing as it is for me to admit it, I’ve had my hair straightened for so long that I’ve forgotten how to work with it in it’s natural state. But, I am learning how to love my curls and myself as I am in the process. This is how my blog name came to be, nursing my hair back to health has become a journey that I will continue with might. However, the journey is much much more than just a journey about hair. It is also about the transition to adulthood as a woman and re-learning self-care; it’s about the ability and importance of making that transition beautifully–with might and mane.
So, what life journey’s are you embracing? What hurdles have you overcome in the process? What have you learned from your journey so far? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Until next time! 🙂