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.