WHY YOU’LL NEVER RUN YOUR FINGERS THROUGH MY HAIR! A Natural Hair Tale.

So I dated this guy once, and he had this baby seal type hair–full of super soft tendrils. You know the type—just add some water and a bit of Murray’s grease and those waves were spinning like a washing machine.

Animated GIF
He was annoying. 

My hair on the other hand, my waves were ghost, ok? Hidden underneath the earth. Coarse character. Unruly AF. My hair breaks combs and apparently, seal haired man children. I’m proud of my strong healthy hair and been natural since 2000.

Back to this wavy head dude that I mistakenly dated (he was a lesson and not marrying him was a blessing) and we were chillin’ at the crib and he said,

“When are you gonna do your hair?”

WHET?! What do you mean DO my hair?

He then admitted he wanted a woman whose hair he could run his hands through.

WOW.

Our babies’ hair will be non existent because this womb is closed. 

Later that year, people made comments about if we had kids, they’d have hair like a ram or a wooly mammoth or something.

This was in 2011.

*****

Afro Black Hair GIF

 

Welcome to the world of a nappy headed beauty queen. 

Your face is so beautiful. I mean, wow.

But that hair, though.

I consider myself a confident woman but those comments stung me. Penetrated my soul. And then, I realized, I need to stop being around people who devalue me.

But, I totally get why he’d say such insensitive and sexist comments.

We are conditioned to believe that hair like mine, is unprofessional and to be honest, unattractive. In the natural hair type community, I’m a 4c. A tightly coiled head of hair that needs a lot of care because it’s quite delicate. It looks like a cloud. A puff. And when it’s picked out, it’s actually looks like a wig—that’s how pliable and moldeable my hair is.

And before there was YouTube and vloggers who celebrated their natural hair, I went natural because those relaxers were painful. Scalp pus and head patting. Overprocessed hair. I didn’t know how to do my hair. I didn’t like my texture. And I’d covered my roots for so long, I didn’t know what it even looked like. It took me a while to truly love my hair!

Why is my hair type deemed ugly?

And let’s be real, these natural hair pages aren’t breaking their necks to feature women or use their ad space to highlight kinky hair. Two young sisters couldn’t wear their hair braided to their prom. And in 2017, a judge deemed natural hair (locs) as unprofessional. In South Africa, young girls were protesting because their natural hair was distracting. As recently as last week, in order for a young man to compete in a wrestling match, his locs were physically cut before the game or he’d be disqualified. It’s exhausting because when Kim K or another racially ambiguous person wears styles originated and deemed popular by black women, they’re not escorted from school or deemed unprofessional. I was told to wear a wig to a religious organization because they didn’t want me to come off as militant or a black panther. I’m like…”but, this is how my hair grows out of my head!”

Believe me, I got rid of that wig once my natural hair was accepted but it took a while.

I never really liked my hair texture. I always blew it out then twisted it then let it out. I had so much shrinkage that when I washed it my hair literally looked two inches long! It was so tight. But right around 2013, I rededicated myself to my regimen and my hair began to flourish. I started seeing growth and moisture. I started looking at youtubers and Pinterest and finding styles I could recreate. Then, it was all about my hair! How to grow it, checking for length, and never every cutting it! 😂😂😂austin powers beyonce GIF

Then, right around 2016, I decided to start photographing myself. It was February and my alma mater had a game so I cleared my apartment space in front of my bathroom, propped my iPhone, put on the timer, and posed. Go CATS!

It was subtle at first. A picture here. A pose there. Then lipstick. Then makeup. Then lots and lots of natural hairstyles. I was celebrating my natural hair by taking pictures of different styles and going live with my regimen. I celebrated my skin tone and body type and hair type and just exuded with positive energy surrounding the ideas around my image. I think I am empowered when I choose to wear my natural hair even for special occasions. And three years later, I’m in ads for hair companies and I’m not giving up. I’m proud of myself for not giving in to societal pressure.

I am not a wig basher but I am a natural hair celebrator. Shoo, I love wigs! It’s my thing if you follow me on IG. However, I refuse to believe that because I love a good beat and my naturally kinky hair that there’s no one out there that feels or looks  like me. I see these COMPANY makeup trips or natural hair boat rides and a lot of the IG models looks alike. Straight ombré bobs with parts down the middle, lashes, big boobs, small waists, ass for days, but flat stomach. Shiny skin and edges laid while sleeping. These women don’t claim to be perfect but they sure do have huge platforms that lead us to believe they might be. Society popularizes these ideals.  

My hair kinky hair is shaved on the sides with bright color, my thighs are thick, my boobs are not as perky anymore, I have cellulite and I wear a size 8 or 10 or 6 depending on the season and my salt intake. I have a Fupa. My armpits are struggle pits most of the time. I have hair growing out my chin. I have muscle and tone. I am happy to be nappy. I like to call my style Ms. Frizzle meets Sporty Spice meets Soul Train. I wear things that I like and styles I like and colors I like. And sometimes I like to be androgynous and sometimes I like to be femme. I explore all this and I just want to be authentic and intentional and clear.

All that to say, I’m finally happy with this head of hair. And to some, it’s rebellious. But for me, it’s beyond style. It’s my heritage.

My hair is a celebration. My hair is powerful. My hair is fierce. My hair is GOOD hair.

I hope we can all celebrate all of ourselves in all stages and in all shades.

FOLLOW ME!

http://www.instagram.com/berryberrystylish 

http://www.youtube.com/lacreshaberry 

http://www.instagram.com/berryandco

 

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“I didn’t mean anything by it” and other microaggressions when you were born with an afro.

It all started with that hot comb.
Family kept telling me
I had nappy ass hair
Lady once told me
Her fingers burned
And nails broke
messing with your
Bush
So heat and grease
And chemicals released
I was a girl who hid her nappy hair
Because I didn’t want to embarrass
Anybody.
And I wanted to be them
So I read YM
W
Teen magazines
Not the typical black girl
But magic and tragic
Nonetheless.
“Don’t scratch, just pat…”
Mama said.
I did both because
Rebellion.
Scalp burns and scabs
No fun but
Roots laid
Nobody knew my secret
Made jokes through the pain.
October 2000.
After growing my relaxer for
Two months
I cut it.
Mirror dirty
Almost 22
Halo leftovers
Nappy roots
Wow.
I really did it
They said well
How you gonna do you hair?
I said wear it like this
Wig is more suitable
But not more believable
So I wore wigs for three years
Scalp dying of hair
Highly aware
These demands were problematic
But my beliefs were static
Not dynamic
Just stuck
Moms was a sage
She taught me how.
Deep condition
That’ll make your hair soft
You got braiding hair now
I smiled but still hid
Had a man who loved it
But that was long distance
And my resistance
was local
Everyone so vocal
on MY hair
It grew fast
but 18 years ago
There were no prepoos
And leave-ins
And YouTube
So I tried to figure it all
Out
My ex said
When you gonna
do your hair?
Blank stare
Wanted to run his fingers
through straight air
Puhleese.
I tried so hard to hold
On to length
And being so close to
Smooth and silky
And to please the male gaze
Esteem in a daze
Trying appease my dates
Showed them the Afro
Wear it like that bae
But I like my shaved sides
And maybe bald head
Conversations about length
Or straightness you can
Put to bed.
My hair is worthy
Even though you call it 4C
It’s 4 me
It’s thick and unruly
And rebellious
And cool
See I don’t need
Anything but myself
And nothing else.
You gonna get this
Bonnet
And side cut
And pink hair
And fade
And leave in
And oil
And cream
And it was never
a dream
It’s real life
Where if I wear this hair
Copycats will be hailed
While we pay the price.
Betta think twice
Cause no!
You cannot
Touch
My
Hair.

 

Do You Even See Me?: Visibility + Intersection in the Vegan Community.

“You’re big to be a vegan!”

Um, do you mean me?

It was seemingly harmless. A black woman to another black woman. I mean, when you think about a vegan, does a voluptuous and vibrant woman even come to mind? Is it really hard to imagine that a person who doesn’t eat animal products could look so alive and energetic? I say I’m vegan only after people ask me about my skin. And let’s just say, I don’t look my supposed age so people are curious. They always tell me to drop that skincare routine or what scrubs they should use. So, being a vegan comes up. They look me up and down, then look at me incredulously, then the judgement. How could YOU be a vegan? You LOOK like ME. And this is my point.

I’ve been vegan for 11 years. I have a whole origin story and it’s long and you can read it here.

I’ve struggled with my weight since I could remember. And to be honest, I didn’t go vegan to lose weight at all. My body told me I had to. I kept getting sick. I had to make a change. So, I went vegan for my well being not just for myself, but also my community, and for animals. My veganism is intersectional. I’ve spent years researching things for myself. I began watching youtube videos for recipes and studying “vegans don’t eat” lists.  I have lots of recipe books. I made vegan dishes for holiday parties. I’ve read the disgusting accounts of slaughterhouse and I can’t get the mistreatment of pigs and cows and chickens out of mind. I’m an expert by trial and error. I call myself this because it’s no longer a struggle to be a lifestyle vegan. I don’t have any more cravings. I eat and live a vegan lifestyle. The problems and misconceptions I run into often are people assuming I’m vegan for losing weight or that I’m new to veganism because of my thick thighs.

“Well, what do you eat?” She says.

I eat everything. And yes, I don’t eat pizza or bacon or chicken or fish. I eat kale, collards, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, rice, and lots of fruit. I can veganize lots of traditional meat dishes. I can do this in my sleep. What baffles me is the idea that people are still surprised that vegans can come in all sizes and colors. Or that I’m eloquent and well versed in the very thing I practice everyday. I see these vegfests and panels that are often run by white people, who feature men and non black women. And it’s like people are so happy and satisfied to have their powerful space in the community that they don’t raise their voices for human inequities as well. There’s sexism in this space. There’s racism in this space. Let me tell you…I went to Vegandale and had a great time trying out all the vendors and seeing my beautiful friends! But let’s keep it real, it was quite male. Even the group picture at the end, had nothing but men on the stage. It baffled me. And to be honest, racism and non-intersectionality are rampant in the community and it’s quite disgusting, but not surprising to me.

I was in a FB group and I was feeling over whelmed and distraught by the brutal killing of Philando Castile. I wondered why most white vegan friends and colleagues didn’t have the knowledge of his death and didn’t even bring it up in conversations. So, I brought it up and was told it was a human thing and this group is primarily about animals. So, I left that group immediately. I find it odd and off putting that unjust human death isn’t as important as a dog’s or a gorilla’s death. We are treated like animals in this society. I mean, I literally have people in 2018 STILL wanting to touch my hair and face without my consent. To be honest, I feel invisible everywhere. In New York. In the spaces I frequent. In the vlogging space. In the social media world. In the real world, too. And it all comes down to privilege and patriarchy. Privilege will have you blind to everything because it doesn’t pertain to you.

Privilege can choose an animal over black lives matter.

Privilege can offer the perpetrator the benefit of the doubt.

Privilege can assume you’re a participant and not a scholar or educator.

Privilege can make you ignore your racism or sexism or homophobia.

Privilege is when you don’t worry about representation in vegan spaces because you’re the “standard”

Look, this post is a truth tale, not a fable or make believe. All of these things have happened to me, repeatedly. I don’t have hundreds and thousands of followers but I know what I’m doing. I know many of my sisters who cook, write, sing, act, moderate, and host. But we don’t need a cosign–just don’t be surprised when you’re no longer invited to the party or sitting at an empty table.

If you want more information or looking for black and POC vegans to support, check the link below:

http://www.blackvegansrock.com/

“Don’t assume, ask. Be kind. Tell the truth. Don’t say anything you can’t stand behind fully. Have integrity. Tell people how you feel.” 
― Warsan Shire

FOLLOW ME:

http://www.instagram.com/berryandco

http://www.instagram.com/berryberrystylish

http://www.youtube.com/lacreshaberry