Sunday, November 18, 2012

Natural Woman

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is in the news again, this time for searching Solange Knowles’ afro at a Florida airport.

Ms. Knowles has been photographed with some pretty big hair, and I guess she could hide something in there if she really wanted to. It’s hard for me to gauge whether the TSA acted reasonably, because the world has gotten so crazy. In any case, given the choice I’d rather they search my ‘fro than my diaper.

I like Solange Knowles. I think she’s underrated as a singer, and she’s apparently funny, too. She jokingly tweeted that hers was a case of “Discrim-FRO-nation,” and then invited her followers to guess “What did TSA find in Solange’s Fro?” Some of the responses were hilarious.

Historically, black hair (especially when worn in its natural, curly state) is no stranger to controversy. I started wearing my hair short and natural about fifteen years ago, and I got comments about it then, and I get comments about it now. Back then, I got a lot of questions about why I wanted to wear my hair natural, as though there had to be a damn good reason for me to do that. There were still those who believed I must be going natural as some kind of statement. I was making a statement, all right, but not a political one. My statement was, “I’m sick and tired of burning my ear with the hot iron.” Also, I could spend hours relaxing, blowing dry, and curling my hair (this time with the intent of producing a loose wave rather than a tight coil), and the minute humidity hit it, my hair would stick out its tongue at me and do whatever it darn well pleased. Finally, it wore me down (no pun intended), and I decided to begin exploring what would make it happy.

You are evil, and I banish you!
Since then, natural hair has gained in popularity and acceptance in most places, even most workplaces (unless you’re a news anchor—if so, you’re pretty much stuck with slightly matronly, shoulder-length locks whatever your ethnicity), and new products are coming out regularly to help define and moisturize kinky curls. Also, more hairstylists are becoming skilled at cutting natural, curly hair, which is great. (When I began wearing my hair natural, many black stylists didn’t know what to do with it.) Finally, the comments I get nowadays are far and away positive. Black men on the street will holler “I like the natural, sis!” which always makes me smile.

I still dream (literally, at night) about having long, wavy hair, but it’s just not for me. It doesn’t look good on me, and I hate the upkeep. I’ll leave the humongous ‘fros to Solange Knowles and other celebrities with larger-than-life personalities, but it feels good to be a natural woman.

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