My hair is naturally curly. Depending on the weather, it rambles between tight curls and an unruly frizz. Pretty much every day could be considered a ‘bad hair day.’ Throughout my life I’ve vacillated between not really caring, and wanting to resolve the problem once and for all. So much is said about having ‘great hair’ that I’d always ask myself, can’t I have it, too?
I’ve tried everything to manage my curls: mousses, gels, smoothing lotions, hot irons, and even straightening chemical treatments. The last of these was the worst; I lost half my hair and ended up looking like someone else.
Once when I was traveling through Morocco to collaborate with some Berber musicians, my luggage didn’t arrive and I was left without my hair-taming products. I panicked and went to the market with my Moroccan friend, Fatima, to buy a head scarf. I figured the perfect solution would be to cover my head, as is customary in that country anyway.
I tried on a nice black scarf and asked Fatima to help me tie it. She tucked my hair in neatly as I checked out my new look in the mirror. But then she gave me a squinty smile and said, “the scarf just isn’t for you. Leave your hair wild, it’s who you are.”
My flying locks didn’t seem to provoke any outrage, even in Morocco. Rather, I was usually greeted with curiosity and a genuine smile. That got me thinking: was there a parallel between taming our physical features and stifling who we are – with all our creativity and spontaneous expression?
I got home and filled a box with my once-tried hair potions and straightening irons, and gave it all away. Since then I’ve decided to let my hair grow wild and just relax! Now that’s a weight off my shoulders.
This article was originally published on the Huff Post on April 25, 2017