Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Long, Flowing Locks - Revisited

Yesterday, I told you about Viva’s excursions to the beauty shop over the past couple of months. Her braids were too tight, they were hurting her head and potentially damaging her hairline, and I asked the stylist and my sister-in-law Diva (who’s been facilitating this process, as well as providing financial backing) to give her scalp a break and put her hair in a loose style. I suggested box braids.

Instead, Viva came home with her hair pressed straight:

At Auntie Diva's, making krispy treats before coming home.


And I am deeply conflicted. I am better off than Sweet Dub, who was furious, but I am conflicted, and here is why:

Since Viva was very small, I have told her how beautiful her natural hair is. I never wanted her to get caught up in the whole stupid “good hair” vs. “bad hair” ridiculousness that rears its ugly head when it comes to discussions of black hair. I try to take good care of her hair -- to trim the ends when it needs it, to keep it well-moisturized and in protective styles. I am a big advocate of loving what God gave you and rejecting any nonsense that your hair, the way it grows out of your head, is somehow “less than” if it is not straight and long. I love naturally curly and coily and kinky hair and I have made a decade-long effort to convey that to my baby.

In the meantime, Sweet Dub’s side of the family has been pushing for years for us to straighten Viva’s hair. “It would look so beautiful!” my mother-in-law would say.

“Her hair will look beautiful no matter what she does to it,” I would respond. “She has beautiful thick hair.”

“I am not teaching my baby that B.S. self-hatred,” Sweet Dub would say to his mom. “Leave it alone, there is nothing wrong with her hair. We are not teaching her that.”

And then we would speak of it no more. Until the next time. “Why are you so invested in this?!” Sweet Dub would say. “We are done, stop bugging us about it!”

But still the pressure kept on – not on us, as it turns out, but on Viva. “Do it for Granny,” my mother-in-law would say. “I just want to see it one time.”

So you see where this is going, right?

It really feels that this whole exercise of taking Viva to have her hair done for weeks was just a very well-laid plan, the culmination of which was:  Viva had her hair pressed straight without even understanding that’s what was about to happen. Now, they didn’t put chemicals in her hair, because I really would have gone off about that. But I hate that they did this without our true consent.

And here’s what has me more conflicted:  Viva loves it. She has been combing her hair, and brushing her hair, tossing her hair out of her face, keeping a scrunchie on hand at all times so she can pull it into a ponytail if she needs to, and even wrapping it, pinning it up, and wearing a satin bonnet at night. When her hair is natural, I have to remind her Every. Single. Night. To put a satin sleep cap on. Or to wear a shower cap when she bathes. It is infuriating.

And worse:  Ceeya sees all the attention this new hair is getting, and she now says she wants her hair “done” at the salon. This, from the kid who fights me every time I want to comb her hair into braids or puffs, or even just finger-comb it out into an afro. Yes, this, from the kid who loves to wear her hair “wild.”

Did you hear that loud scream? That was me.


Nerd Girl said...

So. Here's how I deal with that - I tell LG that her natural hair rocks. And that by keeping it natural (unpermed) she is able to rock it in many different ways that she loves. Something she wouldn't be able to do if she got a relaxer.

I was initially totally against her having her hair pressed because I thought she'd prefer long straight hair over what grows out of her head. But I've found that she appreciates the beauty and versatility of her hair - she likes it straight, she likes it braided, she likes it in twists. As long as she doesn't want it straight all the time, I'm okay with an occasional straightening. She had hers done in August. Told me she didn't want it done again until next August. I'm good with that.

I don't want to make the "hair issue" into an issue in our home. So if she comes home at 16 with straight hair because she's convinced a friend to give her a perm or some other nonsense, I won't be thrilled, but I'm not going bananas over it either. If the biggest "thing" she does is alter her hair, I'll consider that a blessing!

Sorry for blogging in your comments :)

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Hey, Nerd Girl! I hear you. I try not to make the "hair issue" into an issue in our home as well. I don't want Viva to feel conflicted if she wants to try things out. And if she had asked specifically to have her hair straightened, I would say, okay, try it.

My main problem with this situation is that Viva was not asking to get her hair pressed. I was not asking to get her hair pressed. I don't like drama and I am not trying to fight with my in-laws about it, but I also don't like that they dismissed our feelings about it. It is the idea that "I know better than you what you want." You know?

At any rate, Viva says she likes it but is not willing to have it done every two weeks. She would prefer to have it done only on special occasions, and that is fine with me. Had she said she still wanted it done every two weeks, I would have said okay. I just don't want her to feel pressured by either side to do something she doesn't want to do.

I don't want her to get in the habit of not sticking up for herself. She has a pretty strong sense of self and I want to encourage her to be strong in her opinions.

Now I have blogged in the comments! Perhaps this should be my post for the day. ;)

P.S. I have not made a big deal about this situation with Viva - she is not, as far as I know, aware that I am ticked off about it.

Bridget said...

I grew up in a hair salon and barber shop. I get what you're talking about. Everybody has an opinion on hair no matter what color, texture, or length we've got going on. (I've often thought that the only thing that there's more pressure about than hair has got to be food.)

And it does feel invasive when family outside of your own unit does stuff like that. I've bristled over less. You are a model of restraint, Lisa!

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Bridget, I am doing my darnedest to remain restrained. There have been further developments. Stay tuned!