1:43 p.m. - Thursday, Oct. 07, 2004
How many times like this have there been? They usually happen in the morning, as the train fills up. I look out on the platform at a sea of straightened hair. A river of straightened hair pours into the car. My eyes hurt from looking at it. “Why do they do that to themselves?” I wonder.
I’m not talking about those women with elaborate neo-beehive hairdos, nor those with quilt-like geometric patterns of braids: in those cases, however much I deplore that so much time and money are lost on those mountains or in those furrows, I have to admit that they constitute art in the medium of hair.
I’m talking about the woman with dull, lifeless hair that points stiffly at the ground. She looks awful. Obviously, she doesn’t want to be bothered with doing up her hair, yet she could not leave it alone. She had to straighten it. Her natural hair is so abhorrent to her that she prefers it mutilated. She’d rather be ugly than curly.
I want to run up to such women, grab them by the shoulders and shake: try to shake some sense into the brain under that straightened hair, under that scalded scalp. “Why do you do this to yourself?” I want to scream. “Why do you let people brainwash you? Why do you let them take your money for this? Why doesn’t your self-respect rise up and refuse? Why can’t you believe that your hair is beautiful the way God made it?”
Times like those, I need to remember: no, I can’t believe my legs that my legs are beautiful the way God made them. I need to remember how much razor-blades cost, and how many times I’ve cut myself shaving.
I wonder if other women, seeing me in the grocery store buying razor-blades, ever want to grab me and shake some sense into me.