Monday, June 13, 2011

Yeesh, I have Hair PTSD!




Last Friday, K's friend Tariq told me he liked my hair. "I like the whole natural hair thing you got going on. It looks really good. I don't know why more girls don't wear their hair like that."

Very simple comment, and a nice complimentary one at that. Unfortunately, I quickly launched into a tirade: "WOW. Wow. You actually LIKE me hair? You're like one of five people. Everyone else HATES my hair. They thinks it's nappy, unsophisticated... you know, someone said I'm UGLY now. Because of my hair. That's it. I went from pretty to ugly, just like that. I've been called n***** naps, too. People say, "What happened to your hair?" like it's a dag gone tragedy!..."

Tariq sat quietly looking at me, shaking his head back and forth, like a nonverbal "Such a shame." In my crazed state, I looked over to K as if to gain emotional support for my harrowing tales of follicle woe. He also remained quiet, giving me the supportively sad head nod.

After the guys left, I realized I hadn't thanked Tariq for the compliment. I had managed to spout off a retelling of nearly every negative comment I've received in the past year, but didn't take the time to accept and show appreciation for one of the few positive comments given.


I'm battle weary, folks. As much I'd like to say it doesn't phase me when people insult my appearance, it does. Like the co-worker from another department who asked me "What happened..." who was so fixated on my hair, she didn't notice my protruding, six months along belly until another person (obviously uncomfortable that the woman was trashing me) changed the subject to my pregnancy... this grates at me. And all this grating has left me sore... and defensive.

On Sunday, I saw Tariq again and apologized, thanking him belatedly. Being the cool guy that he is, said no problem.

Do any of you have hair PTSD? Or maybe it's not hair, but it's about something else that complete strangers feel obligated to barrage you with verbal bullets about? How do you handle it?

2 comments:

Oldine said...

I am shocked when I get compliments on my hair too, and when I thank whoever gave me the compliment they notice my reaction and ask me why I respond that way and I tell them about how I get more criticism than compliments. I learned kinda the hard way not to go on about the negative things that were said about my hair. I say kinda because the person who complimented my hair said they saw where the people who had negative things to say were coming from (ie: natural hair doesn't look professional) Now I just take the compliment and keep it moving.

Alisha De Freitas said...

I figured it wasn't just me! Just this morning, my friend (and co-worker) was saying, "You look so nice today" and another co-worker looked up and then, upon seeing my hair, frowned... and then kept staring at my hair. She is the same person to say my hair looked much more professional relaxed... while I know everyone has their own opinions, I'm really shocked how, in a way, they don't. I mean, 95% of people (especially other Black people, sigh) that comment on my hair have the SAME negative opinion. It's almost like they're all reading from the same tired script. Natural hair is _______ (nappy, ugly, not clean, unprofessional, unkempt, wild). Just pick one.

I'd probably be more patient of the comments had some thought to them. It's funny how when I'm on sites like BGLH, I'm transported to a whole other world compared to my daily life. And as my profile states, I live in Jersey. And by Jersey, I mean 35 minutes on the train from NYC. Like 15 from Brick City... not far from Queen Latifah, Whitney Houston and the Fugees come from. In other words, it's pretty urban. Yet, people still look at me like my hair is blue. Actually, I think they'd understand blue hair a bit more, he he he...

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