Having to personally deal with this issue of not having what some consider “Good Hair” when it comes down to texture, I was deeply touched and inspired by an email from Saundra (not featured above), a beautiful woman from East Palo Alto, California who’s story speaks of her life long struggle of not having what her mother, relatives, friends and strangers see as “Good Hair”. Of course we all know that ALL HAIR is “Good Hair” but unless you are surround by family and people who dispel that ugly myth then mentally overcoming that lie makes it that more difficult. I know there are many more women who have stories of a similar nature and with Saundra’s permission I wanted to share her story with all of you.
My name is Saundra. I’m from East Palo Alto, California (near Stanford University). I am a mother of a 30 year old son and grandmother to 3 grandsons ages 12, 9 and 6.
My younger sisters have what I’ve heard all my life from my mother, relatives, friends and strangers, “good hair”. My dad’s heritage is African American, French Canadian, Cherokee Indian and German. My parents are from New Orleans, LA and my mother has always had an inferior complex regarding the fact that she is darker skinned than my dad and his family. I always thought my mom’s complexion was beautiful as her skin is flawless, therefore I could not understand why she felt that she was not attractive until 2010 when I took a class at City College of San Francisco entitled, “African American Women in the United States”. I received an assignment in which we were to interview a family member who was at least sixty-five years of age. I felt my Aunt Delores (BeBe – my dad’s sister) was the perfect candidate because I always wanted to be like her when I grew up, she was/is the militant of the family, and yes she too has “good hair” – LOL! I recall back in the day how she would wear huge afro wigs, large hoop earrings, towering platform shoes/mini shirts and carried the largest leather purses ever. I learned a wealth of knowledge from our interview as to how she, my dad and their other sibling were treated by whites and darker skinned blacks in New Orleans. It was then that I realized why my mom feels the way she does
My dad and Aunt Delores always told me I was beautiful and to never allow anyone to make me feel unattractive but I never felt beautiful because everywhere we went my sisters always received the attention and praise for their beautiful “good hair”. I knew it was a hair thing and not a complexion thing because one of my sisters is darker skinned than I, but she has “good hair”. When my mom noticed I did not receive a compliment she would say, “But my Sandy is my New Year’s Girl”, which was always followed by a fake smile and a blah, “Oh, how nice” LOL! I can laugh about it now, but it was painful as a child.
Over the years, I have damaged my hair like you would never believe trying to get it and keep it straight so I did not stand out as much from the others. I had been weaving my hair for about two years when for once I decided to take it down instead of having my stylist do so. I was completely shocked to find a smooth hole (the size of a silver dollar near the area of two of the tracks (near my bangs and just above the nap area near my neck). When I called and asked him if he had seen the holes he had the nerve to reply with a yes and how he thought it was caused by stress (never went back).
I’m proud to say that I’m all natural. Since October 2010, I’ve been wearing two strand twists extensions and am ready for a new style; however, the holes are only about an inch and a half to two inches long (twists in the back slide off almost immediately. According to the woman who puts them in, it’s the texture of my hair in that area that causes them to slide – not the length.
For the past 12 years, I have worked as an executive assistant for one of the top law firms in the world (located in San Francisco, CA) and though I did receive a few stares when I first started wearing twists everyone has pretty much gotten over it (however, I do keep them neat not just for appearance but in an effort not to future damage my hair as I am dealing with traction alopecia around my edges (I was the sponge roller queen back in the day and from years of having my hair braided way too tight (Grrrr!).
I have never performed any type of research regarding anything let alone hair, but this past weekend, about 8 women in my area (all naturals) got together to share our research and watch hair journeys of women on YouTube. I never took time to pay attention to the fact that just about every woman I know has a different texture of hair. Anyway, as we were watching YouTube, there you and Nikisha were sharing your daily hair routines, etc. I have to say, I was truly inspired and have made up my mind to stay natural. Since going natural, I’ve noticed that the back of my hair is supper curly (I guess I did get a lil of the French Canadian/German texture - HAHAHA) it would be in the back, right? I haven’t quite figured out the texture of the rest of my hair, but it’s time for a twist touch up and I plan to play around with some of the suggested products to see what results I achieve before putting the twists back up.
Through my research, I have been forced to realize that I have damaged my hair (maybe beyond repair) trying to fit in and please others. I’ll be 50 years old on January 1, 2012, and I think it’s time I do what’s best for me and my hair.
I just wanted to let you know that Urbanbushbabes.com has inspired me to be true to myself, remove the term “good hair” from my vocabulary and to stay natural proudly. I’m staying natural and I don’t care what anyone has to say about it!!!!
Please know that you are truly inspiring to women of ALL ages.
Peace and Hair Grease!!!!!
Saundra you are absolutely beautiful woman inside and out. Through your intelligence, enlightenment and bravery you have inspired me as well. On another note, ladies can you believe she is almost 50!!!!! She looks at least 20 years younger. I did a double take when she revealed her age!