Monday, December 07, 2009

"Pelo Numero 7"

But before we get to it, you know I always like to serenade y'all with some welcome back music. Usually it's my boy Ludacris, but for some reason I've been rockin this Monica oldie but goodie a lot lately:

*walks it out all over your monitor*

OK, back to the show...

So I finally saw Chris Rock's documentary film "Good Hair." And even though I'm hella late I decided it's worth a live conversation on Monday Musings, with co-host Smarty P. Jones.

Why? I'll tell you right now...

When I was a little girl, I had long, thick, wavy hair. Every Sunday my mom would take HOURS UPON HOURS to wash it using a product line by a woman called Mirta de Perales. The products included this oil you had to soak your hair in for like an hour, a milk-based shampoo, conditioner and a rinse. THEN I had to sit for rollers and THEN I had to sit under the dryer for at least two hours.

FYI- We weren't church-going folks, clearly. HAIR was our religion I guess.

When I look back on my hair as a kid I think- I'd kill to have that back again; why'd my mom beat it into submission every week? My hair was AWESOME! And the best part of this story? My hair was considered "bad hair."

YUP. In my house it was labeled "pelo numero 7" which I suppose was some twisted code for nappy or something... who knows. It basically applied to anything that wasn't Caucaisian-like, or favoring the more European-looking of the Latinas in the family.

This was what I grew up with: thinking my hair wasn't good because it didn't lay flat even though it was so thick and healthy and long. And well-cared for. It was still "bad" in my family's eyes. Sad, right?

Even sadder? When I was 10yrs old, I went to DR for the summer, and my mom decided to hire a woman from our building to braid my hair. You know, so that my family would not have to worry about combing my "bad hair" while I was down there. I LOVED my braids soooo much, but when my aunts and grandparents saw this "black hairdo" they were none too pleased, and within a week they had me in the salon... GETTING A RELAXER. To say that my mom was pissed is an understatement.

From age 10-24 I was HOOKED on that creamy-crack like nobody's business. You couldn't tell me NOTHING about my freshly relaxed hair. In junior high school, some kids even dubbed me Ms. Clairol because of the fabulousness that was my hair. I lived and breathed for my next salon visit until, one day, the inevitable... my hair...was...falling...out. And on my 16th birthday I had to have a "big chop" to rid me of the damaged tresses. You would think I'd learn my lesson from that, right? but NOPE. I kept it up until I met Josie, my Dominican hairstylist, in 1998. She helped me break the habit.

God bless that woman because on my first visit to her salon she said to me, "You don't need a relaxer, I promise you. Just keep coming here and I will condition it and blow it out for you, and you will see that you will never need it again."

It took nearly 6yrs to rid myself of all the "processed hair" but Josie was right, and today a part of me wants to give my aunts a HUGE *side eye* for the trauma I suffered when my hair was falling out. It also fed my decision to keep my babies away from that lye-based hot ghetto mess. I think I made the right decision, too.

But listen, I'm not here to tell you what to do with YOUR hair, tho. I'm just telling you my side of the story, hoping you will tune in to the show tonight and join in on the conversation about what, exactly, is this "Good Hair" people keep speaking of... and why does it require us women of color putting such damaging chemicals so close to our delicate skin!

*smooches...shittin on you hoes in my NY Chola pic*
have you ever seen curls so luxurious? don't hate...