It’s just hair…

pink ink

It’s just hair…
Any black woman who has ever uttered those words, knows that in fact, it’s not just hair! From the time we are born, folks are looking at, or touching our hair. I remember sitting at the stove being burned by Vaseline and the hot comb, the “bouncin’ and behavin’” sorority days, my 1st halle berry cut, to folks trying to touch my newborn’s hair. It has always been about the hair. One friend even crafted her PHD dissertation around black women and their hair. But somehow, through many short hair cuts, I had convinced myself that it wasn’t ALL about the hair. I married the one black man who preferred short hair! I mean “I was NOT my hair! Then along came cancer!

Before being diagnosed, I sat through many a support group listening to women talk about how the loss of their hair was worse than losing their breasts. I read article after article about women who felt ugly after losing their hair. All that time I said, that wouldn’t be me. I was happy with long or short hair. I believed it wouldn’t define me if I were to ever face losing my hair. Guess what? I was right!

From the moment I was diagnosed my doctors tried to manage my expectations about hair loss. Friends who were survivors told their “hairstories”, in an effort to prepare me. “Maybe it won’t fall out” to “It will grow back”. “Think about all the wigs”! But it had the opposite effect. By the time I started to really lose my hair, I just wanted it to be gone. So my husband, daughter and I got out the clippers and it was gone. No tears, no moments of regret. I felt free. I actually like how I look without hair. What I wasn’t prepared for was everyone else’s reaction to my newly bald head.

From the 1st time I slicked some Moroccan oil on my scalp, I knew that I wasn’t going to be covering my “dome”. What I didn’t know was how so many people would want me to. Armed with new tips from MAC cosmetics and big earrings, I wore my baldy with pride! But, at Mayo, I got more embarrassed looks from other survivors, than looks of camaraderie. My friends started sending more scarves. My mom was amazingly silent when I sent a picture. Sorority sisters commented how far I’d come, but “knew it would grow back”. Now, some random black man would smile or say “go ahead sista”. Overall, people were shocked. At the end of the day, my husband loved it, so it was “ all good”. But one day when I told an innocent bystander that I was going through chemo, a look of shock crossed my husband’s face. He later said he didn’t know why I felt motivated to share, especially since the lady commented she thought I was making a fashion statement. I didn’t think sharing would make someone uncomfortable. One “auntie” told me that I looked sexy rocking a bald head, but to be careful, b/c I didn’t look sick. Huh? Wasn’t that the point?

My best friend thinks I am going to grow my hair to my butt when this is all done. I don’t think so. I may keep it super short. Aside from teaching my daughter that hair doesn’t make the woman, I think it looks kind fly. And at the end of the day…

It’s just hair!

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