Maybe I hate myself. Maybe I really hate you. Maybe I use my hair to make up for my dress size and my flat feet. Maybe I do want to be white. There. You’ve figured it out. Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I’m not as enlightened as I should be. Maybe my eloquence is misplaced. Maybe I’m one of those about whom Harriet Tubman spoke—one of those slaves who could have been freed had she known she were a slave.
Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not. I haven’t worked out the kinks. And you don’t get to do that for me. But there is nothing more I would love to say to you right now than this: Get out of my hair.
I’m talking to some of you natural-haired wonders. Not all of you. Just the ones who feel the freedom that comes in wearing your hair the exact way it grows out of your head affords you the liberty to shame and cast judgments on me. Me. The weave wearer. The one with the standing relaxer-and-style appointment. The one who owns more wigs than socks. The one who straightens her hair with a flat iron, careful to keep its smoldering clamps from getting too close to my brown skin (which I love, by the way).
Most of you don’t care what I do. There are those who don’t think twice about it. There are those who respect my choice. They used to make the same choice I do. And maybe one day, again, they will. Maybe they have never made the choices I have made. I’m never made to feel lost, less enlightened, less sophisticated, less beautiful, or any less myself. I just am. Weave, wig, relaxer, hot comb, or not.
This is for those who regard me with pity, those who feel a responsibility to help me cross over, as if I endeavored to cross over in the first place. As if there’s some sort of self-love holy land to which the freedom of natural hair is the only ticket. It’s funny how, in said freedom, we resign ourselves to being divisive. How can we embrace shirking traditional standards of beauty, and yet oppress each other with our diagnostic judgments and unsolicited assessments of value and self-worth?
You don’t get to do that.
Now if I ask you how you did it, if I admire it, if I want you to guide me, do it with all the zeal of offering me a new dinner recipe. Do it as if you’re excited because it tastes great, but you couldn’t really care less what I’m eating tonight. Don’t get all enthusiastic about trying to fix me.
You don’t get to do that.
As much as I want to say it’s just hair, it’s not. It’s never been. It’s political around company. We ignore that it’s even more political among ourselves. That you think your hair elevates you says so. That I feel guilty for not partaking in the natural hair revolution says so. Perhaps this revolution all dressed in self-love needs to wear different, more inclusive clothes.
In loving yourself, I just ask that you let me be and love me anyway. So please, stop staring. My eyes are down here.