I have loved getting dressed up as long as I can remember. I had a stylish mother and four sisters. We spent a preposterous amount of time on fashion and greatly delighted in it.
I was more outlandish in my tastes. My sister would say to me, “Honey, don’t wear orange. That’s for white people,” and since I adored her, I complied. I’d lived in the States for years and met several white people who publicly declared, “I could never wear orange.”
What? They must have trouble finding orange in their size. Surely.
It was then that I promptly cancelled my subscription to the Fashion Police. I would wear what I wanted to wear. As a dear friend says facetiously, “I’m a woman of color.”
The same thing happened with my hair. I grew up determined to straighten it. I burned the tar out of it with crude straightening irons. I used nasty chemicals , sniffling valiantly while my poor scalp erupted in agonizing blisters. It was an innocent bystander at the wrong place at the wrong time. I braided my hair, cut it, weaved it, straightened it, corn-rowed it, relaxed it, curled it, you name it, I tried it. I did everything but love it as it was. I was determined to turn it into my picture of beauty.
Something hit me in the last year or so. I started enjoying my hair and figured maybe it was just the way it was supposed to be. What a thought. Why didn’t I have that thought first? I’ve spent more on my hair in forty years than the Gross Domestic Product of Italy, and still been dissatisfied with it. That’s especially ridiculous when you consider that this hair grows 1 inch every 5 years!
Ever since I decided to accept it, it’s like having a new friend. I love this new friend. I’m getting to discover her and she is a riot. She’s terribly unpredictable and doesn’t always do what we’d agreed on on any given day. She can be somewhat unruly and outright wild. I’ll be having a conversation with my husband and realize he has no idea what I’ve been talking about for the last few minutes. I can tell because he’s staring, not at my eyes, like an engaged conversationalist, but 2 inches above them. Before I can say, “Halo, my eyes are down here,” he muses asbsently, “Did you mean to do that?”, and waves his hand over his head.
“I’ve got to go see this,” I tell myself, heading for a mirror. Sure enough, she is a sight to behold. What on earth? This is NOT how I left the house an hour ago. “Oh, that’s right, the humidity has risen by a per cent!” I glare at her. I was not in on this decision. She has no regard that we are a unit and have a reputation to uphold. She will not be restrained, this headstrong character. Irked, I pull out my comb for the tenth time and slap it onto the counter. I throw my hands up in despair trying to figure out how to corral this wildness. I lean in for a closer look. She winks at me and, against my will, I crack a smile. I realize she has a beautiful mind of her own. And a plan. It’s certainly not the one I had in mind, but it’ll do.
“It’ll do quite well, on second thoughts.” I pat her proudly and stick my comb back in my purse.