Don't touch my hair! I screamed at my gay white friend, who was reaching to stroke his fingers through my newly coiffed do. See I had just gotten it done. Spent about four hours in the salon chair, after getting up early Saturday morning, so I wouldn't be there all day.
Four hours! He couldn't believe it. He had never heard of a person spending that much time in a hair salon.
Did I mention he is white, handsome and very smart but has no clue about black women's hair so I had to school him on some facts.
First of all yes, in some black hair salons (note I said some) you spend hours upon hours just getting your hair done and please don't let it be the day you're getting a weave or heavens forbid your hair braided! Then you just might as well pack breakfast, lunch and dinner because you Will be there all day and almost all night, and that depends on if you got your hair appointment scheduled early enough. I have been known to get to the salon at seven am and not leave until ten pm.
This blew his mind! What the hell takes you almost over twelve hours to do? He asked.
This? I said pointing to my bouncy chemically straightened hair.
There is an art to black hair, you first have to find the right stylist and if she or he is worth their salt then you are constantly fighting for an opening on their schedule so they can do your hair, you don't care if you have to call in sick, tell your boss you have doctors appointment, if they have an opening at three p.m. on a Wednesday you go! Heck you might not get your hair done for another two weeks!
And you just can't have that!
So if it's so hard to get an appointment with your regular beautician, why don't you just go to another one?
he asked, still trying to wrap his mind around the twelve hours salon appointment.
I patted him gently on his knee and replied Because, you don't cheat on your stylist.
That's right the hardest thing to do, for all women and not just women of color is to cheat on their stylist.
They could have you waiting for hours as they take lunch, smoke a cigarette, chat on the phone. They can bump you down on their schedule because they forgot they had a meeting to go to, a child to pick up or a bill to go pay. They can totally disregard that you said you wanted to look like Halle Berry when you got out of their chair because see THEY know better, than you on what you want and the majority of the time they are right.
But you don't leave and you don't sneak off to another stylist because they will always know. And the one thing you don't want to do is have an angry beautician, who is applying chemicals and/or hot curling iron anywhere near your head!
Then he asked what is all this weave thing about?
Shrugging I answered it's no different than putting on makeup or adding false eyelashes. Women do it to add to their appeal to men. I do it because I like the low maintenance of it, I can workout, sweat the heck out of a weave, go home shampoo it an it bounces back. If I were to sweat my own hair out, it would sweat out the chemical straightener faster and it would go back to it's tight curl faster, thus ruining all that time I spent in the salon getting it straightened.
Not that I don't mind my natural state of my hair, the curly Afro that tries to come out and say hello between hair appointments. It's just that I hadn't seen it natural since I was eight years old and I'm a little scared of what would happen if I went back all natural.
Which would take me cutting all of my chemically straightened hair off down to the roots to start fresh. That means having an appearance of a bald woman. Not knocking the women with the bald look but you have the nicely shaped head for it. I don't believe I do...... or that could be the fear talking.
I have thought about it though; as I sat in the waiting room of my stylist salon waiting for her to call me to her chair. But then I thought about all the magazines that say men love women with long hair, and what would my mother say when she saw me with no hair? She would probably have a heart attack. Then the last and final thought is what would I do with my natural hair? How would I manage it? All I've ever known for the majority of my life was the chemically straightened hair and with much practice learned how to take care of it.
But I'm telling you, as I sat trying to explain all of this to my friend even I realized the craziness in it. So I leaned over and said go ahead and touch it.
In which he replied That's OK, I don't want to be the one to mess it up.