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?