When I was in elementary school I had a music teacher with loooooong, super straight, very blonde hair. Like waist length, stick straight, flowing blond hair. I haven't seen hair like hers since. I think she was a nice teacher, I even remember the songs she taught us, like the Laurel school anthem and the choral key practice runs.
Even though I wasn't in chorus.
In fact, I remember all of my classmates being smitten with her. But you know how when you're little, really complicated social concepts are really hard to grasp? Like a gay male teacher was just "weird" or adults who were flirting with each other were "creapy"... Well I had a vibe wayyyy back then that something wasn't "normal". See, I went to a school comprised mostly of non-white (nor Asian) children and Mrs. Lacount had something many of us had never seen up close. Loooooong straight hair. And she was pretty if my memory serves me.
Half of our school picture in like 1988-89! I'm in here in 4th grade.
I recalled all this recently and have been mulling it over ever since. I
I think I had begun to put together that they were kinda worshiping her and her hair, and I didn't like it. I think that feeling stuck with me and embedded itself in my psyche. I have an aversion to unattached human hair, particularly when it is of the straight variety. I have never had a loose weave, or human hair extensions and I actually freak out a little when I find hairs that aren't mine on my chair and such. (One time I found one in an ex's hat and had a fit! lol) Now don't get me wrong, I had braid extensions and can actually put them in my hair and other people's hair with the best of em. As long as it's kanekalon lol. I had all that going on at that same time in my life and adopted beads and tin foiled ends and burnt stinky plastic ends all to be a part of normal black life. But the loose, long, straight hair was alien and not to be embraced by me.
Even more so, my best friend was my white neighbor and we used to do each others hair (there was once a bad mousse incident in my hair- that's for another post) but her hair was kinda curly, not that long, and more of the brown variety. Her mom confronted my mom once to say- "Your daughter gets to do mine's hair all the time but she won't ever let my daughter touch hers." LOL. You all know why- and my mom had trained me well. Those braids and blow outs and ponytails were weekly masterpieces of natural haired patience.
But anyway... I think it's funny how you can watch things like "good hair" and see so many women who live and die by Indian hair weave, but then you can still meet black women who have never ever worn fake hair or sometimes ever had a relaxer. Our upbringing, and random impressions of beauty and blackness can start and end anywhere. You know, I would love to have like a dope bob with a bang and put my hair away for a while, but I've never had a weave, so now I just feel like I can't lol. And if I see a pile of human hair.... arrrgggg I dunno. I think I'd be outta there.
PS- I did wear a phony pony for a wedding and took it out that night. It was a bridal mandate though! and it was fake. I had a fake wig once too- a layered, cute one my same #4 hair color. I had styles for days in my house, in my mirror. But it never saw the light of day, and now it's gone. oh well.
It's amazing how we remember certain little things in detail. For you, it was this teacher with the hair. I'm trying to think back to some of my first impressions of "beauty," and for me it was Sade's lips. It sounds weird to even write this... but back in the 80s, she wore this red lipstick. I wasn't allowed to wear lipstick until I was 16 or 17, I think. That probably played a part. I have always been enamored with lipstick!ReplyDelete
I thought it was just me. I get the heebee-jeebees about finding loose straight hair. For some reason that sceeves me out. As for that teacher giving the kids her hair...WHAT IN THE WORLD!?!?!?!?ReplyDelete
I had a white teacher with long hair like that. I can remember being sort of fascinated when she took it down. She wore it up often. But she was a stone cold nut, so her offering us her hair would not have gone over well lol. She actually used to claim she was a princess that gave up her throne for love....right. That sounded like BS to even my kid ears.ReplyDelete
As for fake hair, I could never do it. I, too, had those weekly cornrows and occasional three ponytail dos that I was instructed to NEVER let anyone play in. I always thought fake hair was itchy and a little creepy. Besides, I had enough hair for two people and didn't have the patience to get extensions in anyway.
I remember fighting in kindergarten to befriend this girl in my class who was mixed with long wavy hair. All the other girls were brown skinned with kinky hair like me and during "reading time" all of us would scramble to sit behind her and play in her hair. I remember begging my mom to speak to her mom and get me an invite to the girl's birthday party. The girl and I ended up becoming best friends for a time and she is now (geez 25 years later!) one of my brother's best friends and someone I consider to be like family and guess what? She rocks her "good hair" in a short curly fro! I love it.ReplyDelete
I'm loving these stories. It confirms that we are really impressionable when we are young and it can be anything that takes up residence in our little minds. I wonder what it feels like to be on the other side though. To be admired for something so small, yet so big. I hope some young woman can admire us as being pretty :-)ReplyDelete
@Shones it sounds funny but it makes sense about the lipstick. It's like- transformative. I was a little older and became super
interested in the singer Faith's hair color. I haven't done it to mine but I look, and look, and look... lol
@ Tonia- right that's super gross/weird/twisted. Even then I was like oh HELL NAW. If I had a kid who came home and told me that...
I'm not alone! My skin crawls if I find a random non-textured hair on my clothing or chair. That teacher had issues, who does that?!ReplyDelete
Point well made and I totally agree with how you feel. What I REALLY hate is seeing a ball of weave hair floating down the street on a windy day. I'm still trying to figure out the fascination with lifeless, long, shiny weave hair.ReplyDelete
well written blog. As a single dad of a 4 yr old girl with locks I've watched her be MESMERIZED by blond, straight hair. I freaked, so I reinforced the recognition of beauty in her own hair and image EARLY and OFTEN. it works, she loves her hair (though I think it was too early to lock).ReplyDelete
Haha. Very funny post. At least for me it is, because you're right, it is our upbringing. I had a similar experience with this girl in elementary school who was worshiped for the same reasons, and so I rejected her and her popularity.ReplyDelete
No one in my family ever wore a weave or braids. I think I was the first when I tried braids at 14. After 3 weeks, I had them taken out. I just always thought my hair was pretty regardless of what people think, so I didn't really want anyone else's hair. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I have curl envy, for like a minute or two, but it's usually just a compliment to the person who was rocking their hair.