Today I was reading the news and there was a very long, long, article about hair. Michelle Obama’s hair, specifically. Some people feel that there is controversy in her hair. Styled straight or curly, Michelle Obama is courting the critics’ ire if she changes it from day to day, wears it too “white” or too “black.” Most of us are aware that black women’s hair is different that white women’s hair or asian women’s hair, etc. That is just the way it is. I accept that her hair is different from mine, and frankly, I am not really concerned if she wears it straight, curly, or shaved. It’s HER hair. I see no political statement in her hair. Others differ, but that’s because they don’t have more important causes like terrorism, child abductions, poverty, illiteracy, or world hunger fashion to worry about.
[Insert random sociopolitical commentary here: when Laura Bush became First Lady there wasn’t a surge of websites dedicated to librarians and advancing their cause. I find the fixation on Michelle Obama and the concept that she will somehow be the change agent for black women in America to be odd. We each affect our own change upon ourselves. There are women who have admitted to not wearing their curly black hair in its natural state to a new job because they feel it creates racial tension. I am so glad I don’t work in the type of environment that would make any woman feel that way! /End random sociopolitical commentary]
I have always had curly hair. It was the bane of my existence for many years. See, there’s this little proverb my Gram taught me: man is something of a fool; when it’s hot he wants it cool; when it’s cool he wants it hot; always wanting what it’s not. It’s totally true! I did not appreciate my curly hair, even though I came to realize that women with straight hair were perming their hair to achieve my natural look. While they were perming, I was straightening. I permed it straight, curled it straight, blew-dry it straight, used a flat iron and even the chemicals that some black women use on their hair to straighten it. I wanted what I couldn’t have. Me and Michelle O have a lot in common. We want to have the versatility of straight hair we can pull into a pony tail, clip, leave straight, or sweep back, without all the frizz that comes with curly hair.
At some point I gave up and I don’t do much to my hair now. I would think that if I can’t keep up with my hair with one child and a relatively normal existence, it would be exponentially more difficult with two kids, a major career, and a President for a husband! When she does finally break down and just start letting her hair be her hair as it was intended to be, I hope she doesn’t catch any more flack. It’s just hair. It doesn’t empower women worldwide and it doesn’t say anything more about her than it does about me. Women just want to look nice in their concept of whatever that is.
Ironically, after all these years, my hair is starting to lose its curl. I blame Melody. Well, not her specifically, but the hormonal changes from pregnancy and delivery. It’s fairly common after all. Even more strange? After all these years of straightening my hair, I’m a little sad for it to be less curly than it used to be.