Despite my jovial, “Hey how are you doll…?” outer exterior, I am actually a shy person who sometimes would rather sit in a corner alone rather than face not being wanted. Like Morris Day said, “Ain’t nothing worse than rejection” ,so sometimes it is easier to go it alone. Few people really know this about me, or would believe me if I say it, but it is my truth.
However as a budding business owner, that behavior is definitely a minus. So I took a moment and sat in quietness listening for an answer. And something so obvious, yet obviously neglected by me dropped into my spirit and it was this. If you have to choose to take action and what you would lose by not doing it is less than you would gain by doing it…GO FOR IT! Everytime! GO FOR IT!
My fear of whatever I had imagined had kept me from doing things, and taking chances and risks that could have helped me. Because even mistakes can help you grow. But this “aha” gave me the courage to plan a Winter Launch Party for my company. And although to many, this ma seem like a small thing, for me it was huge for me. I labored over every detail and weighed decisions to make sure my event was a success. Reached out to friends for help and encouragement, and set my eyes on a goal. When that day for the event came I went into it with a clear and concise definition of what a successful event would entail. And i set out to have an awesome launch. AND I DID! The event was successful, and I had a ball. I got to do what I love and show others what I am passionate about.
And what I realized is this. People who love you and “get it” will support you. But you have to put yourself out there in a way that people can “show up” for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to act. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to try. Because in that trying you fortify all future tries.
I, like countless others I am sure, look forward to getting my Essence Magazine in the mail each month. I love trolling through the pages for images of beautiful women who look like me. And I get excited about reading the articles and stories written by women who share my same experiences, because it not not only serves as inspiration for what I can do, but it makes me feel less alone in whatever I may be going through.
This is exactly how I felt when I read the Viola Davis interview in the October 2013 issue. I had always been a fan of her work, and her understated beauty, and peaks at the interview promised insight into the moment she became a superhero in the eyes of women in the natural hair community, the 2012 Oscar awards when she stepped onto the red carpet in her natural hair.
In the interview, which was both honest and vulnerable, Davis states that had she found herself defending herself as an artist. She found herself defending herself as a dark skinned black woman in front of people who did not know her life. She took her wig off because she no longer wanted to apologize for being who she is.
And it made me think about how may times in my life I felt like I needed to apologize for being who I am. The times I felt like I needed to repent to others for my being overweight, or having kinky hair, or not being smarter, or more submissive, or for not fitting into the ideals that other people had for me, for being slow to make decisions and then having someone tell me they were the wrong ones. For being too emotional and sensitive. And in that moment I realized the person I needed to apologize to was ME! For not being kinder and more loving, and gentler with myself. For not embracing my emotions. For not honoring my body and my soul. For not eating and living better. For not embracing what makes me me, and for sacrificing my happiness to make others comfortable. I had denied myself and others the divine honor of getting to know me because I wore a mask that was shaped to gain acceptance and approval. And in doing so I had deceived my self into believing that I was not good enough to be loved as I am: overweight, a little slow to understand at times, sometimes overly emotional, and deliberate in my decision making.
But through prayer and affirmations and then more prayer I am learning to celebrate the good in myself. While I am all of the things I listed above I am also kind, and funny, and giving, and creative, and beautiful, and enough. I AM ENOUGH!!! And that is worthy of celebration. YOU ARE ENOUGH!! And that is worth celebrating. Embracing ourselves doesn’t mean settling for the bad in us. It means not letting the bad define who we are.
It has been said that in being who you are, you give others the unspoken freedom to do the same. I may never meet Viola Davis but in her own way, she helped me to like me more. And that too is worthy of celebrating.
I had a specific blog in mind. I wanted to write about the masses of women who embrace “natural” weaves and wigs as opposed to embracing their natural hair. The piece was going to be called “The Unnatural Natural” and it was sparked by an article that I read online a few weeks ago. While trying to find this article, via Google, I ran across a few articles that I thought may be helpful. And indeed they were helpful…in inciting an inner monologue that wouldn’t shut up or be shut down. So I am writing to you.
The title of the first article seemed to pose a question. “Why Do So Many Black Women Wear Fake Hair, Weaves, and Wigs?” I think I can safely say that this question was not posed by a person of color. And instead to seeking to really understand the decision to wear weaves and wigs, the author makes a very general blanket statement that all black women with long hair wear weaves that they try to pass off as their own. After all, all of her black friends wear weaves and none of her none non-black friends do. They are “all natural”. This author was of course read the riot act and that was that. No new perspective was gained most likely because the rebuttals were all so very defensive. As if anyone has to defend the decisions that they make about their hair.
Skip ahead to article number 3, which was titled “My Thoughts on African American Women Wearing Hair Weaves” by Celin Childs. This article was my favorite of all the ones that I had read this morning for a few reasons. This was a woman of color writing about her own experiences with getting weaves and relaxers. How she felt when her weave wasn’t in and how she felt ashamed because she had failed to embrace who she really was intended to be. She described her obsession with weaves as a disease…almost an addiction and stated that she has since gone natural. She also maintains that a lot of women of African descent struggle with the same issues. I agree because I did. I had embraced a standard of beauty that didn’t really include me or anyone who looks like me. But without hesitation this woman was also ripped to shreds. And some of the comments were so hurtful that I wanted to cry. One reader commented that by encouraging us to be natural, the author just wants us all to be fat and ugly like Gabourey Sidibe in Precious. I wondered how did we get here. A woman was celebrating the fact that she had found herself and that she was beautiful. Without perms or wigs or weaves. She didn’t condemn those who still wear them but she was inviting everyone to take the journey to personal intimacy and appreciation with her.
I couldn’t really grasp a hold of how we had gone from 0 to 60 that quickly. And I think maybe the cause of all the frustration stems from the fact that some of us want to be autonomous and self governing, meaning they deem what is correct and good and acceptable. And when anyone goes against what they think a fire grows.
Something like hair shouldn’t be the cause of spewing hate for another regardless of what we look like or how we wear our hair. Nothing is more personal than hair and so how you govern yours is your business.
So….. I’ve been natural for almost seven years now and I feel that I have found a way to integrate my natural hair culture into my everyday life. I haven’t used a blow dryer or worn my hair straight in two years because I opted for the ease and benefits that protective styles provide. Cornrows, twists, roller sets, etc. Last November I cut my hair all the back and wore very short finger rolls that would bush out into a short curly afro with a matter of days but, blessed be Jehovah!!, my hair hair has been growing very quickly and the finger rolls just ain’t working any more. Now I do a modified twist out with Creme of Nature Moroccan Argan oil and water as a leave in. This gives me a small tight fro that lasts for about three days before I twist it up again or pick it out into a full fro, which honestly is what I’ve been waiting for.
I recently had an interim manager at work and the chemistry in the office changed dramatically. I would twist my hair every three or four days so that my hair would never bush all the way out. The day that he left I wore my hair all the way out. Picked and Patted Perfection. It was haute stuff if I say so myself. I didn’t feel it was an intentional move but I realized when I was on my way to work that this was the FIRST time I’d worn my fro like this. And subconsciously I was probably trying to assimilate to what my manager deemed appropriate. He is not one who approves of ethnic flair in any way. I honestly feel I was skating by with the jewelry that I wear so maybe in the back of my mind I just didn’t want to push the envelope any further. Whatever the reason, I had let someones opinion of me encroach on who I am and that’s just not cool. I have since been assigned new management and I am loving the sense of freedom in my office. Not only are my ethnic eccentricities accepted but they are noticed and commented on in the affirmative.
But I questioned myself because I wanted to know had I sold out on a small scale. I don’t know. I didn’t violate any moral principal, did I?? By letting someone dictate what is good and beautiful and acceptable I had compromised a small bit. I had given my power of personal freedom to someone else, which I have since sworn to never do again.
Let me first admit that I didn’t make the decision to go natural all on my own. I had a few “bad perms”, one of which left a quarter sized burn on my scalp. The hair in this spot is still thin and very delicate. After that I figured I’d give my scalp a breather and go natural for a few months. It was at this time I began to do a lot of work on me. Getting some very deep rooted things uprooted. How I saw myself and the world was challenged and I just figured if God in all his infinite knowledge and power wanted me to have straight hair, I would have been born with it. I can rock a natural…no more perms for me!! Easier said than done. Even with the recent emergence of natural hair and its images in the media, the majority of Western society still thinks that straight hair is better. I had no idea what products to use or where to get them. But I’d find them because I all I wanted was a big pretty fro like the ones the women wore on Soul Train in the 70’s. One that I could pull down in the front like bangs like Christie Love. I even bought a fro wig to see what I would look like when it came in. The problem is I have what I guess would be called type 3 curly hair. I have a lot of hair but the strands themselves are fine. It would take years of cutting back the perm and then all permanently colored hair before I would have a somewhat decent fro. All the while I would sit back and look at women like Jill Scott and N’Dambi and wonder, “When the hell is my hair gonna look like that!?” I became a little resentful when I would see women with pretty afros because mine still hadn’t come in yet. And I became impatient and failed to enjoy the journey and lessons that going natural could have taught me. And what’s worse I was ignoring the thing that is always with me…everywhere and is always putting up with my shenanigans. My hair. I had fallen out of love and needed to get back. In November 2011 I decided I need a change. My hair was shedding like crazy and breaking off and I know it’s because I wasn’t loving on it the way I needed to. I woke up on a Sunday and I cut it all back. to 2 inches at the crown and less in the back.. I wore twists for the first 2 months and now I see my fro coming in so good. For the first time in a long time I am all natural. No processed hair…no colored hair…and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world to me. And I’m having fun with it. And what’s better, I no longer compare my hair to anyone elses. This crowning glory is mine alone.
Wow. What a week. We lost a beautiful voice, a beautiful woman, a mother, a friend. Whitney Houston. I remember being in elementary school and singing Saving All My Love For You to myself. I didn’t know but one third of the words and I was struggling to hit the high notes and hold them the way she did. I remember when the Bodyguard came out. I remember when she remade I’m Every Woman. Her music is a part of the soundtrack of my life. After I heard about her death I began to think…we all know what it is like to feel like someone’s always looking at what you are doing…or saying…or wearing. But I cannot imagine what it’s like to feel that way on such a gigantic stage, when everyone is actually always looking at what you are doing…or saying…or wearing. Ready to pounce and pass some type of judgement. As an artist there is a certain amount of ego you have to have just to get out there. On a clear day I feel like I can stand toe to toe with anyone and sing. And I feel like no one’s jewelry is cooler that the stuff I make. But there is also a certain element of vulnerability. Wondering if people really like your art. If people are with you because they love you, or because they love what you can do…for them. Sometimes its easy to get “stuck” in the vulnerability of it all. I truly believe that artists are more temperamental than most. Whitney will be missed.
Made for pierced ears-Surgical Steel Post Attached