I am twenty-three. Living in a state where I curve my body in such a way to resemble a scoop. A ladle, attempting to gather friends and experiences. On a night called Saturday, I remain in the bathroom for much longer than one should with plugged-in plastic hair iron, trying to turn my curls into heterosexuals.
Or simply: straight.
And on this particular night, I notice a difference in the way I am perceived. My smooth strands slow down the blinking and suddenly I am hating myself because: I. Feel. Pretty. And that hatred rises from the fact that I am feeling this way just because my knots are gone.
Many years later, I attempt this unbending of hair once again. I take heated iron to hair and remove the volume twisting around my head like red wind. I take coconut oil to smooth away the stubborn locks. When I look up and into the mirror, someone else exists. This is not me.
What is your hair regimen?
When I was younger, my grandmother treated my curls like delicate trophies. Don’t ever cut this, she would tell me. But if you do, please save some for me.
This led to years of hoarding my cut ends in plastic shopping bags each time I clipped away length. Even now, a small bag full from my last haircut rests in a box marked alter even though she is no longer here. I still keep my curls for her.
My relationship to my hair is spotty. Sometimes I feel enlightened by it, while othertimes it is more of a burden. Hair is what I notice first on the humans who pass me by. It is what often attracts me to another. I fall in love with their hair: afro, mohawk, mullet, bleached or shaved…..then, I start to fall in love with who the strands belong to.
Media tells me that curly is just not as pretty as straight. This is why we go to salons and spend our money on chemical straighteners. But the curls are really just like tangled words, a nest of magic, knotted gestures.
I never brush it. And I’ve been told shampoo should be left behind. Maybe these curls look messy to you and perhaps your fingers get caught when you rub at my scalp, but I’m quite content with this chaotic mane and I think I’m going to stay far away from its heterosexual counterpart. My hair was born to be crooked and queer; I think it’s time I just let it be.