It’s hard for me to find an appropriate word for how very pleased I am that you have come to be representative of me as an individual. It’s always so funny when someone who didn’t know me way back when catches a glimpse of my ID or browses through my older profile pictures and realizes that I once used to straighten my hair every single day. Sometimes multiple times a day. It was like a religious calling.
We’ve been through a lot together, hair: relaxers from small childhood through middle school, which I thank you immeasurably for being stronger than and never totally losing your thick kinky curls, no matter how hard my mother and I and once even a real hairdresser tried–we always had to use heat too on a regular basis; then the less-damaging but still unfair to you daily process of heat damage from flat-irons, with a twice-a-week-ish addition of a hot comb; and I didn’t even learn that I had also been damaging you with unnatural chemicals included in the products I’d been using until after I decided to go and STAY natural.
I want to formally apologize that it took me so long to accept you as you are. I had never really kept you how you’re meant to be for long enough to get to know you; you were an unfortunate byproduct of swimming or unexpected rain, and non-black people were always fascinated by you. I was always annoyed at the prospect of having to spend hours under heat and some pain to fix you: from the bottom of my very soul, I am sorry for ever thinking you needed to be fixed. I talked yesterday about my mother’s strictness regarding personal appearance–she relaxed you as early as she could, and I had never known my hair as anything but straight. Even when I learned how bad relaxers were and wanted to stop, I continued straightening you because I didn’t know how to do anything else–it was the way it had always been, so I let it continue. It wasn’t until I came to Princeton and you were accidentally introduced to my friends here one day after a wash that I realized I was allowed to love you. You didn’t have to be hidden away, you didn’t have to be changed.
And we’ve been through even more since then: while your gorgeous texture means going natural wasn’t as much of a struggle for me as it is for some women, I still had no idea what to do with you. I still didn’t know what products to use or how to deal with the knots and the tangles. You didn’t always look the same from day to day in the beginning. I went into the decision to stay natural with a brave face, but I can tell you now that I was a little afraid of you. But now we’ve been together for a year and a half, and I don’t plan on ever letting you go. I know you so much better now. I know what you like and what you don’t like, though I’m always still experimenting to find you new treats. I detangle you regularly with no problems. I have learned to style you in more ways than just your natural fro without losing any of your volume or curl pattern. I have bought you accessories and shiny toys that get constant compliments. I can’t keep my hands out of you, and I welcome the touch of anyone close to me.
You are a wild thing with a gentle nature, and damn anyone who wants me to tame you. You are free spirit and spontaneity and a manifestation of difference. You represent the strange mixture of all the things that I am. You are hundreds of tiny revolutions. You are beautiful and I don’t give a fuck what science says, you are strong. You are soft and spongy and luscious and thick and kinky and twisted and MINE. The first thing my dad said when I sent him a picture of you was that I looked more like myself than I ever had; it’s the same idea that my friends are getting at when they try to understand how straight hair was ever me. It wasn’t. You are me and I’m sorry India, but I am you. You’re it for me, you know. I pledge my honor that I will love and respect and care for you for the rest of our natural life.
I cherish you,