The Barber Shop

In facing my fear of going to the barber shop as a client, there are things that have been brought to my attention. It has its advantages over a beauty salon. The barber works on one head at a time which makes the entire process faster. Although a barber shop is cash only, the bill is significantly cheaper than its female counterpart. My personal favorite is that it lacks the drama that has driven me away from all beauty salons.
No soliciting signs deter people from coming into the barber shop to harass you for your money; church play tickets, cookie donations, hand bags, perfumes. There are no children running around. Phones are not constantly ringing because people text their barber of choice. Dryers do not exist and neither do hot iron curlers. Yes, this may be a new haunt of mine.

Bold & Bald

There I was sitting at my desk. A vision came to me. My eyebrows were immaculate. My head was clean shaven. My fingers soon made an appointment with the local brow boutique. When the brows had been perfected, my car somehow took me to a place that I have always avoided, until now. The barber was pleasantly surprised to make my acquaintance.
My hands carved the tale of no more combs. The hair had to go. Down and out with the afro. I did not want to be a bald woman but close to it would be good enough for me. As the mechanism began its job, the sensation of it working on my scalp was not pleasant. The sounds of poor music and male chatter were not exactly comforting. Fist pounds served as common greetings. Tattoos were in a great abundance. There I sat in the first chair watching my mighty fro meet a dignified end.
As the mirror was pressed into my hands, I beheld the sight of my new self. Does a bald head signify courage on the part of a woman? She is relying completely on her face. Is this a statement? Am I now considered to be a bold woman? All of these thoughts went through my mind. I tipped the barber well and exited the den of men.
My dear friend was notified about the business that kept me away from her phone call. Her shock was pure. While she loved the beauty of my head, the fact that I dared to do something without taking a minute or overanalyzing every angle was simply out of my character. As the responses poured in, it was clear that my head had a fan club. I now await word from….my mother.

Beauty is a Full Time Job

In order to maintain a beautiful appearance, a woman has to work hard. It costs money and constant attention. Once you start to get into the habit of looking in the mirror, other things start to reveal themselves and the fine tuning begins.
Let us begin with hair…..on the head. My hair happens to be natural. It has never been my friend. It requires combing. Brushing. Dye. Trims. Conditioning. Hot oil treatments. Special shampoo. Specified pillow case and scarf. It is not an easy job to maintain an afro of this proportion. Our next visit is body hair. Everywhere.
Eyebrows shape the face and can make a girl look like she has some spice. However, after about two weeks, they have to be shaped again lest one begins to resemble a creature from outer space. Facial hair is another pesky issue. It is not the most attractive thing on a woman’s face yet the damn thing grows. Tweezers and wax are the only things that I can say about such a nuisance. The armpits are a requirement if one plans to wear a tank top or go swimming. Did I hear someone mention the bikini line? The trimming of the bush is a personal matter. Some woman like to allow it to grow wild while others tame it with a weed whacker. My personal opinion is that if I am already spending all of this time on hair, I may as well have the complete neat look. Legs are easy thanks to pink gel and a pink razor.
Dare I bring up clothing? No. I shall back up to fitness and nutrition. One has to exercise and properly hydrate in order to look nice in clothes. Those pesky pounds can actually vanish if one decides to do a couple laps around the block a few times a week without visiting McDonalds. Once this is accomplished, different styles and colors can be found that a girl enjoys modeling for herself and the world.
Nails. When did women fall in love with painted nails? There are so many wonderful colors and just an abundance of styles: gel, acrylic, French, American, SPA! These days I favor glitter and some type of deep red or bizarre purple. It was recently shared with me that once should have a standing nail appointment. Well after dealing with the hair, a girl may not have the time to get to the nail salon. You may have to walk in the morning and work the rest of the day. The proper solution for this is: use your lunch hour.
Is it any wonder that there are so many different goddesses that are called upon for beauty support? A girl needs prayer to handle all of this. Where is my mirror…..

ME AND MY HAIR: YET ANOTHER EPISODE…..

Wed, Oct 7, 2009

It has taken me my entire life for me to come to an understanding with my hair…the care of it, the feel of it, the look of it.  I finally get it.  All of that was attacked tonight by the comment of one ignorant stranger.

I was taking a class with women that have natural beautiful hair.  My hair has a perm in it.  This “man” had been watching us from outside for a long time spooking us out.  Finally, he came in to say to me, in front of everyone, “Sister, once you get that perm out of your hair, you will be straight.  You look strange amongst everyone else”.  A strong silence gripped the entire room.  My eyes flashed with tears because of the problems that it has always presented.  All of the dancers shared their compassion for his bizarre actions.  Alas, I didn’t feel better until I got home and wrote this; my response to to this statement.
One of the wonderful things about being me is that, I can change my hair into just about anything.  Braids today, long hair tomorrow, short hair next week, maybe a ponytail after that.  Anything is possible because of the versatility that is available to me.  I have had natural hair before and will again…when the mood strikes me…not because it will allow me to fit into someone’s particular view of what I should or should not be.
This attitude is reflected in my clothes as well as my jewelry.   I wore shells and jeans to work today.  Tomorrow, I may be a pink professional princess…the next day, perhaps a chocolate model.  Who knows, its always a fabulous adventure doing the self expression thing.
I have always marched to the beat of my own drum.  I see no reason why that should change now. Did the comment offend me? Yes, it struck a nerve.  I was quite surprised by this stranger whom wasn’t going to grace the cover of EBONY anytime soon.  How dare he have the audacity to say such a thing to me only to vanish once he was verbally assaulted by the other women in my defense.

I am not perfect but one thing that I have always known is that I am beautiful no matter how I style myself.  My slumber was sound that night because of my belief in me: I AM GORGEOUS!
Inshallah

 

MY HAIR: THE TRAUMA, TORTURE, & ACCEPTANCE…I THINK WE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING

As far back as my existence goes, my hair has been a problem.  I hate dealing with it on any level besides wrapping it in a scarf or some other covering.  Let us begin with the list: curly perm, braids, perm, weave….afro.  Join me on my wicked tale of the unweaving of the weave.  This is my hair journey and how it has affected my life.

In retrospect, the curly perm can only be seen as a sign of the times.  It just vanished by the time the 90s rolled around.  I guess it came about to make the afro easier to comb.  I learned how to take white goop out of one bottle for washing and pink goop for conditioning.  When it became difficult, it was time to make an appointment in a chaotic environment but that is described in another post.  Eventually, the curly perm gave way to beautiful braids.

I love braids.  However, if I had a penny for the amount of hours that I have spent as my poor sensitive scalp has been subjected to the gripping and the tugging and the twisting…god, I am in pain thinking about it.  It was not long before the tired hands of the flea market girls gave way to the suggestion of a perm.  Ah yes, the flea market.  I am sure that many of you would like to chime in about that place, but we will leave that for a future class.  So, I tried the perm: bald spots, burning, aloe plants, flying objects that have been thrown, breakage, and that should be enough to give you a proper visual.

The perm made my hair very easy to handle.  Combs no longer broke and brushes stopped getting stuck.  Pieces could be added and decorated with ease for special events.  The day to day work that was required to maintain it was overwhelming for me.  I could not handle it.  I grew tired of the constant barrage of, “Please, God do something about your hair!”.  The appointments, the chemicals, the burning, the curling….I HATE THE DAMN DRYER!….this was before I discovered weave.

Weave gave me long hair which was a new experience for me.  It came in different textures and lengths and it was just a whole new expensive world.  I would often spend time just gazing at myself in the mirror.  In the meantime, my actual hair was suffering.  It responded by breaking and simply leaving me.  It was hard for me to take pride in something that was always giving me such headaches.

As I began to develop an interest in dance forms, new associates came into my life.  I was taught the wonders of Shea butter and rubbed it on my scalp for that natural glow.  Shells can be worn in my hair.  After returning to braids for a while, I was happy enough and went to the beach.  One of my natural queen mamas went with me, and we chatted the afternoon away while the waves kept us enthralled with nature.  I mentioned that I had to make an appointment (OH GOD) to perm my hair.  She asked me when I was going to tire of that nonsense.  My mind reflects on that question because it was strike one for me.

A salon was soon graced by my presence for new braids.  As I sat there and thought about whether or not I would get a perm, my ears soon heard the sound of my own voice: Why do I continue to subject myself to this?  Perhaps that is when the hair change began.  A West African dancer that also did locks suddenly appeared in my life, and I felt the need to consult her for advice.  She treated me like her little sister and gave me the knowledge that I needed: YOU NEED TO STOP WITH THE CHEMICALS! FOR REAL!  She went on to explain the pros and cons of natural hair and weave.  It was a kind and genuine exchange for which I am grateful.

I went back to the salon and told the hairdresser to chop it all off…most of it.  As I quickly escaped to my car, I sat inside and called a make-up artist.  My other assets were going to have to be enhanced because now, I had next to no hair and was feeling quite vulnerable.  For weeks, I hid under beautiful scarves and colorful wraps.  When I finally emerged from the safety of my security blankets, the world welcomed my transistion with open arms.  I had been my own obstacle.

People wanted to touch my afro.  Children would blush around me and tell me how pretty my hair was.  A coworker pulled me to the side and said this is the best your hair has ever looked, and I love it.  My mommy bought me nice earrings to compliment my new look. (I secretly think that she was just happy because now we had the same style but I do not want to talk about that…lol).  Slowly but surely, I grew into what I never knew before: MY OWN NATURAL HAIR.

It has been one hell of a journey with this tightly cropped hair of mine.  The bald spots and breakage that once existed are things of the past.  My head is covered with thick hair that I love admiring in the mirror because I can not believe that it is all mine; no receipt required.  I have learned that there were signs telling me that chemicals were not for me but because I did not recognize that, the lesson was taught until I finally got it.  People showed up in my life just as I needed the guidance and understanding of a healthy way that could work for me.   So, here I am.  Me and my hair.  I think that just maybe, we have reached an understanding.  I do not put chemicals in it, and it does not attempt to be my worst nightmare.

The Hair Salon: The Myth

The hair salon is a place where a woman can go and have her hair taken care of by a skilled professional.  She can then return to the world as a new person with a happy radiant crown.  I have been falling for this for a very long time.  I am unable to deal with the hair salon, and it took me a long time to realize it.  However, my conclusion has been reached for many reasons from years of battling with a place that has been influenced by the outside world.

For many of us, time is money.  Whatever precious moments we have left to us outside of work are important in that we have to make happy memories.  If an appointment is made at 10:00am, then why does it start at noon?  You are then held hostage without a definite hour of release.  How many of you have ventured to some remote place other than a salon to have your hair done in the hopes of escaping some of the regular muck?  In the end, did you end up being exposed to other things that you just did not need to see? Yes, so have I:)  We look for escape routes…..

A bustling place of chemicals, televisions, dryers, and sometimes unruly children combined with harsh contraptions which under normal circumstances could be considered weapons run rampant in the average salon.  The conversations and cell phone interference simply add to the already damaging chaos.  If this is the Mecca of the so called beautification process, then I need to be in another hub bub because this is not it.

A woman should be able to enjoy the sensation of having her scalp massaged as her hair is being conditioned without being bombarded by cacophony.  Isn’t that why I came into a place? I stepped in through a door to separate me from the rest of my life and this is what I am paying for?! I do not want to hear little voices bargaining with you for candy.  I do not want to buy tickets for whatever play or product you are pushing this month for your own capital gain.  Please stop laughing with your receptionist over something silly.  Your distractions are not being deducted from my bill, and you expect a tip.

The funny part is that all of this is separate from my actual hair story.  This is about the illusion that a typical salon presents: we are here to care and style your hair.  Many of us chase the maintenance of a proper coif.  After understanding what my needs are for this process, I can say aloud that the hair salon may be a good place for my hair(which is debatable), but it is a detriment to the rest of me.

There are too many stories of long unending days locked away at the hands of a hairdresser.  If I am told 10:00am is okay, that should be when the service begins or at least within 15 minutes; not two hours later on a regular basis.  How many of you are raising your hand to that one? “I am sorry that I am late for lunch.  My hairdresser took forever.”  How many weddings have been late because the hairdresser was not on time! I think that many of us want our hair process to be much like that of a deep tissue massage. It should leave you curled up and happy in a nice relaxed slumber or at least feeling aweome.  You may look great, but how do you feel?

The environment where I want to get my hair attended to should be a comforting sanctuary of peace with gentle light beings fluttering about with thoughts of beauty and how that vision shall affect me.  How can I bring out the best beauty in you?  As I understand my dissatisfaction, perhaps it is a reaction to the mainstream focus being placed on getting as much money as possible with little to no regard for the client.  That focus has allowed the outside world to invade the once sacred salon and wreck havoc on a process that is suppossed to be healing, not chaotic and destructive.

You may be wondering what I plan to do about this situation.  My feelings have been fueled by visiting the many different salons in many different areas.  Since I went natural, the salon has almost vanished completely from my equation, and I have not missed it.  However, sometimes a girl does want the care of a hair pro. This feeling led me and my afro to a salon the other day for a hot comb and conditioning.

My former hairdresser, (you shall soon see why she earned that introduction),  looked wonderful, and I complimented her on the results of her exercise regimen.  She immediately said that she was fat and that there was no way that I could possibly fit into proper clothing.   My inital reaction was silent and one of questioning.  Why did this woman feel the need to insult herself and then me in order to boost her own glaring insecurity?  She actually gloated about her statement.  She had a need to attempt to throw me on the ground and take some of my energy away in order to raise her own low vibration.  I did not respond to this knife.  One is already in a vulnerable position at the hands of a hairdresser with weapons of follicle destruction.  I paid her for her work, and said good-bye because she never has to worry about accepting my money again.

If I am going to pay money for a service as important as beauty, it needs to be in keeping with just that.  The entire process has taught me how to better understand what I need and what will not accommodate those needs.  This is a lesson that can be applied to all areas of life.  Maybe, I just do not belong in a salon.  I don’t want to hear noise and I do not want to have my time blown away by a dryer or asked to pay for tickets that I did not inquire about to begin with.

Once you are able to know what works for you vs. what doesn’t work for you,  it is easier to enable yourself to find and attract the proper circumstances that you need.  You won’t spend time settling for something that you know will not assist you or do more harm than good.  I decided that I will not return to that salon because someone that insecure can not be allowed that close to my crown chakra. Furthermore, I refuse to accept her issues especially when I have to pay her.  I did share this experience with a friend whom informed me of a lovely place on the other side of town.  After viewing the site, my afro is excited about a possible future visit.  After all, a girl just wants to look and feel her best without being put through hell.  Everyone deserves a beautful beautification.