Before I begin this post, I’ll post a most recent photo of the braids, it’s been A month and a few days since I’ve had them, figured a picture would be a fun celebratory thing to do. Happy 1 Month to my hair !
One of my favorite parts of this entire process aside from learning something new, and learning how to take care of my hair… is the reactions that I’ve gotten from people.
The reactions run along a WIDE spectrum.
From positive, to negative. to fake positive to super negative. Nevertheless, it’s been pretty entertaining for me, especially when I don’t explain that it’s an experiment. Then I realized I didn’t have to justify my choice of hairstyle to anyone and it felt a lot more freeing just to say “oh well I like them” when people admitted to not liking them, and “Oh thanks!” when people gave me compliments.
My own reaction:
At first, I was shocked. I didn’t think I was going to look that great with them. I didn’t feel like me. The me I’m talking about had always had curly or straight hair. Never these heavy, hard to wash, awesome to make high buns with, oil demanding braids.
My mom unfortunately doesn’t like the braids very much. For a reason that I honestly respect very much. She says they aren’t natural, they aren’t me, and she is reminded of that when she sees them. And as the woman who raised me, brushed my hair for the first time, and all the way until I demanded and was able to do it myself, I genuinely respect her opinion. I disagree, and she knows that, but nevertheless what she thinks and says in important to me.
My father, kind of asked how much it cost and then left it at that. He didn’t say much, and that’s reaction enough, it seemed pretty normal to me. Nevertheless it wasn’t much of a discussion.
My friends have been the most supportive throughout this entire journey. There are a few who understand how out of the ordinary this was for me, and how big of a deal it was to me although it might not be by any others’ standards, and with that knowledge they still managed to support me.
Jayana, the girl who actually sat and did my hair and dealt with my ramblings and nerves before I went through with this, has also been amazing throughout this. She’s been patient, and she’s answered any and every question that I’ve asked. I’m glad that she was the one who did my hair, I would not have had it any other way.
Adults I know, Adults I don’t know
It’s been an interesting mix of strangers and people I know coming into my life a reacting to my hair. Most adults that I know expressed positive feelings about it. I’ve gotten several “they look so cool!” as well as the usual questions about how much it cost, and how long it took.
I’ve gotten responses like “You’re so beautifully exotic” at restaurants by waitresses, and people on the bus or in the store. Several “exotic looking” references were made by strangers.
And then there were some, that weren’t complete strangers, but enough so that I put them in that category that explicitly stated that they did not like my hair at all, and that they preferred my natural hair. What was funny about that was one, it was one person in particular that took it upon themselves to say that, and then she proceeded to say how pretty my long straight “natural” hair was. When in fact, if she wasn’t really a stranger, she would know I have naturally curly and large hair. This was probably one of my favorite reactions from a stranger, just because it’s delivery was on the verge of insult but just polite enough to come out like a tainted suggestion.
Other adults, like at school and church all gave positive reactions. I wasn’t surprised in the least bit that the people in my two favorite places reacted the most positive, and most supportive out of any of the other environments I’ve encountered and been in lately.
It was interesting looking for people’s reactions to my hair. Strangers were unexpected 9/10 times…but the people who know me, and that I know were the best people to watch process my hair. A few completely ignored it, and others commented eventually, while some commented right away. I’m not exactly sure which is better…because on one hand, not acknowledging it is just essentially saying (in the soulful words of India Arie) “I am not my hair” therefore I should not be defined by it, or interacted with any differently because of it. Then on the other hand, commenting isn’t an insult, especially if they’re in on the experiment.
Amongst all the reactions, I am just continuing to learn that this experiment was for me. It is something that I chose to do for myself, to reflect on how I felt. And then I realized more so than usual how much others affect me. It’s not about caring about what people think so much that I live by their words, it’s caring about what they think because that’s what I do, I value people’s opinions, whether I agree with them or not.
Stay tuned Project Identity: Part 3— Self Appreciation