keep in touch: black hair, representation & question marks

I’ve been dabbling in different hairstyles and colours ever since I felt I could safely get away with it. For me, the start of the experimentation began several years ago, long after I’d moved away from living with parental figures in the ‘burbs, and during college studies in a big city. I also happened to work in an environment that allowed for me to explore various hair dyes and lengths without being fearful of losing my position.

As I am living out the last few years of my twenties, I decided to go in a new direction – that of natural promotion of hair growth, and no more breaking down of hair via chemical straighteners such as relaxers. (I am undecided on hair straightening combs.)

Early last fall, I hacked off most of the hair I’d dyed purple previously and since then have been developing a small afro. I shop around for different conditioners suited to curly hair, various earthy balms and oils to massage into my scalp, etc. Only recently have I decided to share my progress in picture form on some of the more known social networking sites. It yielded a rather interesting message from someone dear to me in the past:

for much of the time I knew you (especially the earlier years) I always sorta had this feeling like you were somehow repressing/ignoring/whatever your race/ethnicity/heritage. I get the feeling these days that you’re more in touch with yourself (and, for better or worse, that tends to be a part of it), and I’m happy for you for that.

My initial reaction was to smile about it and say thank you. Days later I still feel as though that was the proper action to take, while also admitting that there were some elements of me that I was hiding within the jars of Manic Panic/squeeze bottles of Special Effects dye.

To be honest, it’s difficult for me to attempt to represent what my nationality seems outwardly because I don’t truly know it. I’ve been so curious about it at times I made up stories to suit me, which understandably led to a bit of trouble.

I was adopted at age six. I’ve no clue about the people who contributed to my birth, nor the alleged siblings. Usually, tackling serious life constraints have taken precedent over finding out any of this information, but now that things seem to be ironing out again, perhaps I can trudge forward with at least obtaining papers on medical information.

Back on point to the note I received. I DO feel I am more in touch with who I am as a person. I am definitely less introverted, but I have a long way to go before anyone will call me outgoing.

I don’t think I need funky hair colours to represent anything or get people to pay attention to me, but I still think of dyed hair as a lot of fun (and like most hair decisions, a pain in the arse to maintain)! Perhaps I’ll return to it in a while; I don’t pretend to know. I enjoy where I am now, and that’s enough.