I was giving my daughter a hands-on tutorial on deep conditioning and two-strand twisting. She asked me how I knew so much about hair? I told her I read a lot. I told her I find it interesting, don’t you think so? She said no Mommy, it’s just hair. Wow those words hit me like a ton of bricks: “it’s just hair”. This is one of the people who is supposed to run with this hair empire and burn the midnight oil like her mom to try to make it reach the next level.
It’s just hair?!! Once the initial shock subsided I started to look deeper. I told her you are right. It is just hair. I think we do make a lot of to-do about hair. She whole-heartily agreed. My mind quickly drifted back to preschool on picture day. My hair had two big twisted pigtails on each side of my head and one in the center of my head and two in the back. I had on a pink dress with white tights and a heart shaped necklace. You couldn’t tell me I didn’t look good.
There was just one thing that messed up the whole moment from my preschool perspective…A yellow barrette. Each pony tail had white barrettes on the end except for this one pigtail that had a YELLOW barrette on the end. I am the youngest of four girls and barrettes in a house of four girls is like a black hole, so barrettes were at a premium.
Unfortunately, this ponytail did not get the privilege of having a white barrette adorn its tress, so I had to settle for the next best thing, a “Yellow” barrette. I remember crying and telling my mom it does not match. She told me that we did not have another white barrette and yellow was close to white. I was in preschool, but I knew enough to know that yellow did not look like white. So I cried even harder…this does not look like white.
As this did not console me, she took to the “you still look beautiful” and “no one is going to notice'' approach. In my preschool mind, I just knew everyone was going to point and laugh at me because of this yellow barrette. As any parent who is trying to get two children to school and be on time for work consolation turned into frustration and then there was the “you are going to wear this yellow barrette and that is the end of discussion” approach. Much to my mom’s wisdom, no one made fun of me let alone even noticed that yellow barrette.
It has been over 30 years and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. But why did this event have such an indelible impression on me? Had I learned at a very young age that it was not just hair? It was identity, acceptance, beauty, and dare I say value. Reflecting on the conversation that I had with my daughter, these same characteristics I had placed on hair as a preschooler are not so much different from the views I as well as many other adults have today.
When we realize that “charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised”, we will start to love ourselves and others for what’s inside, then we will begin to realize that the hair that grows out of our head is indeed “just hair”.
Rhonda is the Founder and Formulating Chemist of Inahsi Naturals, a plant based hair care line developed for curly textured hair. Check out Inahsi Naturals products at www.inahsi.com.