For most of my life, I’ve been a “no shoe” person. I would come home kicking them off, preferring to be, as my father would call me “Honey Child, Runnin’ Wild, In the Jungle, With-no-shoes-on-yo-feet!” As a result, I ended up with large, flat, rabbit feet – practically no arches graced them at all.
Then at some magical point, I began to fall in love with shoes.
I think it was the point when I realized that I could wear any shoes I liked.
Forget the black-patent-leather requirement that my mother had – I could wear sandals and wedges and strappies and pumps and flats…oh, it was refreshing.
Then I found DSW.
That was a good day.
So, for fall, what “type” of person am I? While I do have an immense love of shoes, I try not to own too many at once. I will wear shoes until they wear out, get them repaired, and then wear them out again before buying new ones. This fall, when I buy new shoes, they’ll probably be cheapie, colorful, flats.
It was only a couple of years ago that about this time I declared my independence from relaxers. I know that there are plenty people who make this declaration every day – and many of them follow through.
The interwebs are full of sisters who have decided to "Go Natural". It happened in the 70’s. It’s a trend now. I can only hope, though, that this is not a trend for me. And though my twists may annoy me (due to the overwhelming fuzziness on my head), and though I would love to be able to do something with my hair other than…well…nothing is what I do with my hair now, I declare, this day, that I will never go back.
Many people ask me why I made this decision. Mostly people who don’t know me. Mostly black women (young or old) who have their own hair relaxed. I’ve noticed that the natural ones don’t ask me this question. Perhaps it’s because there is a very simple answer that The Natural Ones (TNO) already know, because many of them came to this conclusion on their own.
It’s not about the maintaining the hair. Though I will be the first to admit that shaved hair is VERY easy to take care of. Low-maintenance and all that.
It’s not about the cost. Though I can’t now imagine that there was ever a time when spending $55 for something that would last about a month was routinely part of my budgetary concerns.
It’s about looking in the mirror and discovering, with relief, that I could still look pretty with this black steel wool that God gave me to work with. And it was knowing that I didn’t have to fight myself all the time to be pretty – that I could still be beautiful being myself.
It took a long time to get up that kind of courage.
As a little girl I used to watch movies – The Little Mermaid was my favorite – and turn green with envy. Ariel had such beautiful thick, long, wavy hair. And she was a mermaid. The mermaid part I had down pat. I used to pretend that I was a mermaid at the pool. My cousins and I would have "tea parties" along the concrete floor of our azure retreat. We would have contests to see how long we could hold our breaths. We would pump our legs up and down and not use our arms, so that we could swim mermaid style. It was the hair I couldn’t get. I used to put on wigs every chance I got. I would wear my t-shirts over my head and pretend that my hair was nice and long.
Eventually, I convinced my mother to let me get braids with long, flowy, extensions. And that made me happy. When I got older, occasionally I would treat myself and get them. And it was nice, having long hair to be annoyed with. One day, my friend said "You look so pretty with long hair to frame your face. You should let your hair grow out like that naturally." And I was bitter. Because I couldn’t do that, it wasn’t an option. Without perms and hairdressers and self-sacrificing Filipino women giving up their hair, I couldn’t look "so pretty". My mother and sisters could. My cousins could. Even with perms, their hair fought back. It grew out, and grew straight, and laid flat. And when they slept, they managed to keep on their night caps. They didn’t root out their hair in the night during one of their crazy semi-lucid dreams.
And the bitterness hurt.
And then my husband (then boyfriend) came along and convinced me. Maybe I ought to try it. He wanted to see me, as he said, truly "naked". I wasn’t sure I’d like it. He was.
And so it was that one day I got up the courage to go in and sit down and tell them to "shave it off".
And I haven’t looked back since. I loved my face…I loved my hair…and most of all, I loved that it was really, and truly, all mine. And I loved that when he looked at me and said "you look amazing", that he was really looking at me, and not all the fakeness I’d piled upon myself. I needed to know that I was beautiful underneath it all. And I found out that I was.
"Hey, Alicia," The Boy asked, one day. "If you had never met me, would you have gone natural?"
"Are you glad you did?"
"Yup," I replied, as we browsed through the selection at the Lara Crofty type of store in Carr Mill Mall.
"If we broke up, would you ever go back to perming your hair?"
"Not on your life."
"That’s good," he says, and smiles. He puts his hand in mine, and I smile back. I wasn’t just saying it to be nice, it was true. If I have nothing else to be thankful for (and I have plenty) I can thank Jeremy that he showed me how to be me.
Now, that’s not to say that relaxers are horrible. I decided that the true beauty of my hair was that I could relax it. Or cut it. Or grow it out. Or twist it. Or braid it. I have options – and that’s the best part. I don’t have to be fake (but I can be, if I wanna be).
So, this Independence Day, I declare my freedom from fake-ass hair products.
At least…for the time being. I mean…I’m not saying the micro-braids will NEVER make a comeback…
So there are a few questions one must ask oneself before attempting to answer such a proposition. Let’s forget the fact that somehow this place has electricity – and room service (I definitely don’t have to do any cooking or cleaning while I’m there. Perfect, cheesy, omelets just fall from the sky…onto my plate.) Yes, let’s forget all the other magic of the island and focus on the important questions.
First, is there any chance that I might be marooned upon that magical desert island? Or will I be allowed to leave at any time? Because this simple fact would affect which DVDs I would bring with me. I might bring five romantic comedies, fly back to my local Blockbuster, and then pick up five action flicks. This would also affect whether or not I got one of those awesome movie pass thingies, where I can get movies in the mail and then like, create a queue, and switch them out for other movies at the store… You know, will I be able to go home and get new movies out of the mail? And really, how long am I staying on this desert island? A week? A month? Three days? Because THEN the question becomes, would I want to bring five DVDs at all? I mean, if I’m only going to be here for a couple of days, surely I could do without DVDS for that long! Go exploring, move my legs, enjoy the freedom of not having to go to school…or teach children…for a little while….
Okay, important question number 2: Does it just have electricity, tv, and a dvd player, or could I possibly bring a Blu-Ray and hook that up to? Because I’ve got some new Blu-Ray discs that look totally awesome with the new television we just bought. It’s all texturized and stuff. And you would never really realize how much you were missing until you watched like, the same movie on both DVD and Blu-Ray. I was kind of worried that Blu-Ray would go the way of the laser disc, you know, just a passing fad, but it’s been around long enough that I think it’s safe to invest in some high quality discs. Then again, I guess I really should think about the fact that perhaps the TV there does not have HD capabilities, and the technology of the Blu-Ray might be wasted upon it. And you know, these days, why take any DVDs at all? Why not load them up onto a hard drive (because, I mean, we’ve got TV, electricity, etc.) why not load them up onto a hard drive and play them from there?
Number 3: Am I just sitting around, outside, underneath a palm tree (or a sand dune) getting sand up my shorts? Or is there a sweet hotel, with a jacuzzi, nearby? And are there camels involved? They spit, you know, which might make TV viewing unpleasurable. I only ask about the camels because I want to know if this is a desert island, or a deserted island…I mean, I can’t imagine a small island that looks like Laurence of Arabia, what with the ocean being so nearby, but I’m sure it could exist. Somewhere. I mean, Antarctica is a desert island, right? As are parts of Australia… And if it’s in fact a desert island and not a deserted island, do I have to share the TV and DVDs with anyone else – because that would totally affect what DVDs I bring with me. There are some movies that I’ve seen so many times before that I could just close my eyes and nearly recreate the experience of watching them in my head. And there are some movies that I would want to share with people who have never had a chance to experience their awesomeness. This does not mean, however, that I would want to bring "It’s a Wonderful Life" with me on my desert island and watch THAT over and over again. If someone else were going to share the experience with me, I would want to bring it, but if it were just myself, I think I’d bring a mix of old movies and new movies. I’ve never managed to finish "Annie Hall", so I’d bring that, and I’ve also heard that "City of God" is awesome, so I’d want to bring that. But then I’d also have to bring a copy of "The Little Mermaid", ’cause it’s like a security blanket to me, you know, just to balance movies I hadn’t seen with movies I loved.
Finally, and this is perhaps the most important question of all, what’s to stop me from taking more than my favorite five DVDs? A cop? The baggage people for whatever transportation system I am taking to get there? The nuts from Homeland Security? Because I’m thinking that maybe what I will do is pile two or three DVDs into one DVD case…you know, stow away 15 DVD’s instead of five. Maybe I’ll just count "Buffy: Season 5" as one DVD instead of…what, five or six DVD’s…and see if the gods of the desert island will let me pass. But why should they care? You know? I mean, they’re getting free entertainment off of me and my back-breaking effort to bring the magic of the silver screen to these kids…or gods, I mean. Maybe I’ll just pack the whole damn shelf and see what they think of that!