Dear Younger Natural Charish,
You’re twelve years old, you’re long and gangly, bespectacled, and you’ve got all this hair hanging to your ass. It’s thick and curly and you hate it. Remember all those restless nights you tossed and turned in bed dreaming that it could be straighter, more acceptable?
Slow down a little. Don’t be in a hurry to forsake what you were born with.
Try not to let those girls wear you down. “You, know your hair would be longer if you straightened it.” “You got dookie braids!” “You must be tender-headed?” Try not to grow bitter because of their taunts. They are confused and alienated girls who will unfortunately grow up to be confused and alienated women.
Mom will eventually give into your pouting and slather you up with Dark n Lovely. Just know that it won’t change things. It won’t make you feel better, it will actually make you more neurotic. The acceptance and validation you want will only come when you expose the world to what’s in your
head. . . not what on your head.
You’re going to have the chance to do whatever the hell you want with your hair one day. I’m going to tell you now, that you’ll fuck it up a few times. You’ll brush and comb with an intensity that no hair shaft should experience. You won’t moisturize at all. Your most dangerous toy will be a flat iron. You’re going to wield it like some arrogant musketeer. You’re going to have more hair in the bathroom sink than on your head. You’ll cry about it.
It does get better, don’t fret.
One day you’ll be in your boyfriend’s bathroom picking out your hair, in it’s natural state. You’re going to suddenly stumble upon your “blackness.” You’ll look in the mirror, and I swear, you’re going to finally feel at home. Tired of burning your ears and neck, tired of sore arms, you’ll be reintroduced to an old but surprisingly sexy friend. You and this afro are going to be thicker than thieves. You’ll do the research on order to keep your friend alive and healthy. You’ll take her to another country and introduce her to other friends.
It will take you a while but you’ll get used to the idea of being natural. After you get the hair situation under control, you’re going to start focusing on more important things. Namely, the man you’re in love with, your writing, your general health. You’ll want to think outside yourself for once. How are other women around the world living? How can I be more giving? Should I consider eating less pork? These will be legitimate concerns that will make you a well rounded human being.
The point is, younger natural Charish, it’s not the end of the world when that knuckleheaded boy sitting behind you in English class yanks on your braid and tells you it’s nappy. There’s a good chance that he’ll be a knucklehead for the rest of his days. You, on the other hand, will blossom into a beautiful brainy woman who will refuse people’s wooden nickels.
A Letter to My Younger Natural Self
Dear Younger Natural Charish,