Yesterday, I went to program with my hair out. Its HUGE right now. Of course, Saturday, I had an audition, and its common to have your hair the same way for the audition that you have it styled in your headshots, and because my hair is pretty versatile right now, my headshots were taken with the big hair. Of course, it can always be pulled back, so I have a smaller shot on the resume' side showing that. Its been kinda rainy and humid around here these past few days, so I thought nothing of just letting the fro go until the weather dried up. yesterday was another rainy day, and because I don't really cover my hair in the rain (its just hair...and its just rain. They go well together), and it just got bigger as the day went along.
I must admit,it felt good to not having to pull it back or up and out of the way.
When my students walked into the room (only 1 of our returners came yesterday, so it was all of the new girls), they all reacted in some way. Of course, I had prepared for that, and made sure I didn't make a big deal of it. We make sure that when they walk in, the focus is on them, not us. So I would just comment quickly, and change the subject to something about them.
One girl had a big reaction..."OH WOOOOW"....I said "yeah. How are you? How was your weekend?", quickly changing the subject. She couldn't stop gawking at it. It was a little uncomfortable, but I didn't sit and think about that much, I had students to tend to.
As the day went on, she began making comments about my hair. "Who did your hair?" I did. "What did you do to it?" I just wet it, added a little bit of product. But it gets curly with water.
And then she said "Girl please...those are tracks. I mean, its cute, but those are tracks".
Right then, I wanted to breathe hellfire on this child and shut her up. Like, seriously...for real? Tracks? For real?
Now, I have seen some really cute weave/track styles around here...and right now, everyone does want the curly fro style, so they add the tightly coiled tracks and pull the curls apart...so I can see how she'd confuse me with this. However, our lone returning student told her that it was my real hair. She then asked me again if it were tracks, and I told her no, you can scratch my scalp and everything (not that I'd really let her though).
She kept going on and on about the tracks, and I actually had to turn my back on this girl, because I was really getting angry about this. Then she asked my co-worker about my hair, the one Ive been working with for almost 2 years now. "What did you think when you first saw Miz Rayawwwwna's tracks?" "That's her real hair..."...I later found out that co-worker had heard her talking about these 'tracks' all day, but never realized she was talking about me, and found it funny.
I am very protective about my hair. I tell people to please ask before touching it, because it bothers me when you just stick your hands all up there. I don't let people 'play' in my hair. I believe it comes from losing it to cancer treatments...and then being so scared when it grew back.
Something no one knows (this is my first time ever admitting it)...my doctor told me to cut my hair off after one of my locs came out in my hands. I was already in radiation, and it was breaking down the keratin in my body. I had nails that fell off, and my nose and ears bruised easily, feeling mushy even. I had known for a few weeks that my hair would be next...he said I may no go chemo bald, but I should expect to lose hair.
I made it sound like I was wrestling with cutting off my hair...I guess, looking back, I really was. I didn't want to do it, not at all. When I finally got the nerve together, I went to Dwight and had him cover the mirror as he cut my locs off. I still have a small handful around here, in a bag. For the first few weeks, when things were ugly and uneven, I wore scarves, exclusively. I was so ashamed of having no hair.
When I finally did reveal it, I got a few shocked glances...but that was it. Mind you, I was still in college at the time, and a few of my girlfriends had all just shaved their heads too, but for fashionable/personal reasons. I guess everyone just thought I was going along with the trend, and honestly, that was cool with me. I didn't have to explain this to anyone, not even my roommate. Basically, I allowed my silence/indecision on the matter to lie for me, and not let anyone know what was going on with me.
I had to think about why this girl's comment about tracks made me so angry, and I think that's it! It took me so long (4 years almost to the day) to get my hair back to where I am completely comfortable with it. For someone to insist that it was fake offended me completely. Did she know that? No. Would I let her know? Absolutely.
I also had to think about her and her situation. Was she really making fun of me, or was she admiring me in her own 7th grade way? Both are possible, but I am choosing to see it the latter way. She is a young lady who is maybe 12, trying to fit in, trying to be cool. She doesn't have alot of hair, and usually just wears hers back in a ponytail, nothing fancy, nothing special. Her environment tells her that if you want long hair, or hair that is big and puffy, you buy it and sew it in. She is just coming to me from her own experiences. She may or may not think she's cute (one of her shout outs yesterday was to herself "Because she's pretty"...we find that many of them stress their looks when they are actually very insecure about them, as a false sense of security), and may think I am the opposite of what her personal thoughts of 'cute' are.
By the end of the day, I had calmed down. As we walked out of the classroom to our closet when we put all of our materials for the night, somehow I realized that she and I were ahead of the rest of the group. I told her quietly "It hurts my feelings when people comment on my hair being fake. I used to have cancer, and didn't have any hair, and it took a long time for it to get this long. So it really hurt my feelings when you kept saying that." Her mouth dropped open wide, and she didn't say anything. I told her "see you tomorrow", and smiled.
I shared this with my co-workers in debrief, and explained that I don't know if she really listened to my whole statement, or stopped listening at the word cancer...but they assured me, she heard it.
I never really thought I'd ever be so touchy about my hair...ah well...
Until next time...