My curls are back. Thank God. I lasted two days with straight hair, and both nights I dreamt my curls never returned - in fact the second night, things got so bad I had to have a perm. Enough said. It wasn't that straight hair didn't look good; it just wasn't me. It was too perfect, too sleek, too groomed. It made me realise not how much my hair says about me, but rather how much it is an integral part of me, of my personality. My lifestyle is chaotic and my hair is chaotic. By having my hair straightened, it was as if I'd ironed out my personality.
Only three friends saw my straight hair. The responses were not what I'd expected. All of them were loyal enough to assure me that it looked great, but then one said it made me look American ("sort of like a cheerleader"), another that I looked like a news reader ("or maybe a weather girl"), and the third pointed out that I'd lost about a foot in height ("Do you think you'll get served at the bar?").
But the real problem was the guilt. Not only did I feel like an impostor, a fraud trying to pass for something I'm not, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd let the side down, sold my curls down the river. Sure, it was wonderfully feminine to have long, straight hair, and it was fun to shake it from side to side, not to mention being able to run my fingers through it, but the novelty soon wore off.
The beauty of an Afro is that it's very obedient. Once you've sorted it out in the morning, it stays put. You don't have to worry about it for the rest of the day, whereas with this style, I was constantly worrying whether or not it was starting to look frizzy, did it need some serum, should I give it another comb? Talk about high maintenance. By the time I got home, I was already wondering what it would look like tied back.
The other major bone of contention was the fact that I had the same hairstyle as nearly every other black woman I saw that weekend. Having my hair straightened had turned me into Identikit Black Woman. Is this what it's like to be blonde?