BACK AT MY ROOTS, NO HAIR MEANS NO BAD HAIR DAYSBy Susan Jacobs
I’ve returned to my roots, literally: I’ve just had my hair shaved off—gone, no más. As a result, I am happy, nappy and finally free from the drama that I’ve allowed to big-foot its way back into my life for the past several years.
I’m back where I belong after trying it all, again: The two-strand twists in varying colors of heavy, synthetic hair (enduring countless hours in the chair watching bad Lifetime movies and the WB), the oh-so-pitiful attempt at starter locs, the wannabe Jill Scott neo-Soul coif, and the fatal flaw: the texturizer … just to “soften it up a bit.” Actually, that’s burning lye slapped onto my natural hair to make it more “manageable.” It’s as big a mistake as it sounds.
The day I woke up looking like Woody Woodpecker, I went back and told my stylist to “take it all off.”
Why we, as black women, torture ourselves to this degree is a whole other issue. Don’t let me get started—just rent Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair for a quick (and sad) primer on (most) black women’s love-hate relationship with our hair.
One of the comments from the film that has stuck with me was from naturally coifed actress Tracie Thoms, who voiced her dismay that only in the black community can the idea of wearing your hair in its natural state be considered “revolutionary.”
Anyway, the chemically treated route was my wrong turn into a very, very bad place. My hair got progressively thinner and drier. Of course, my stylist balked at my demand for a buzz-cut. He begged me to “play” with my length—length, you see, is the Holy Grail of black hair. He gave me this crazy-ass asymmetrical cut that was just ridiculous. As I stared in the mirror in disbelief, the strains of “My Jamaican Guy” began to play in my head.
“Just play with it,” my stylist said way-too-cheerfully, tilting his head as he admired his handiwork. I fought the urge to slap him silly, and instead ran home and hid.
Next morning, I got creative with a head scarf, big earrings and my favorite lipstick so as to look presentable for my skin care appointment, then made a bee-line to my former (now current) hairdresser. He talked some smack about what nerve I had, just showing up on his doorstep on a Saturday afternoon with no appointment after being away for a million years. It’s cool. I deserved it.
Meanwhile, he coolly surveyed the damage beneath the scarf, made a few comments about my being too old for “this Grace Jones shit,” took out his shearers and transformed me into a fashionable bowling ball again.
My 2 cents to others who are out there fighting it, whatever it is? The middle-aged balding man who’s doing the combover? The sister trying to rock the blonde weave, thinking she’s Reese Witherspoon? Work with what you’ve got. Learn to embrace it, revel in it, love it, and cherish it and save the drama for Cal Rep. I’m so over it.
Susan Jacobs is a Mary Kay consultant based in Long Beach. She can be reached at www.marykay.com/susanjacobs