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A Love Letter to My Hair, Ahead of Valentine’s Day

BY Alexis Bennett

Thank you for being so strong. I know I’ve put you through a lot. When I was in middle school, I pulled and tugged at you, hoping you’d abandon the essence of who you are and mutate into a silky-straight stranger. I drowned you in the thickest creams I could find, hoping to tame every frizz. I even made you sizzle under splashes of hairspray scorched by the fire from my grandmother’s stove-heated hot comb. During summer breaks, I pulled and twisted you into micro braids and baptized you in chlorine-laden water at the swimming pool.

After 25 years of incessantly trying to change you, I realized that the only thing that needed to change was the convoluted lens from which I looked at you. So I finally decided to unleash you from the chains of chemical relaxers. A couple of months into our new journey, I was so eager to see you for who you really are, and I couldn’t wait any longer. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped off your heat-damaged ends. Once all of your scraggly strands were on the floor, I glanced up and saw an unfamiliar reflection staring back at me in the mirror. Seeing you defy gravity made me feel free—a feeling I had never had in my life. It also made me wonder why I had hidden you and all your glory for so long.

I started to fall in love with every twist and turn burgeoning from my scalp. It wasn’t a rom-com, love-at-first-sight situation, but the type of adoration that makes you rip up superficial lists and wholeheartedly embrace and accept the facts. Seeing you in your natural aura reminded me of my royal heritage, and discovering your infinite versatility made me feel like a Queen. Not the ones you see on Netflix series, but one that didn’t need a man-made crown because she was given one at birth.

I no longer feel a need to hide you, but instead I’m doing all I can to protect you so you can flourish the way that you were designed to. Wash days have become sacred rituals where I bathe and nurture you in the finest of ingredients. Every hair brush stroke is a thoughtfully executed labor of love in order to preserve the glorious peaks and troughs of your curls. You’re even carefully wrapped up in the cool slick of silk every night.

It’s hard to believe that there was once a time when I took you for granted and attempted to change the being of your fibers. I hope you forgive me for trying to squeeze you into a narrow-minded box when God designed you to stand up, stand out, and stand tall.