Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hair It Is

So, I'm working on this hair thing. I've tried twist outs, wash and gos, and last night I tried a Curlformers set. That last one didn't work out so well. It's frizzy and poking in every direction. I've never worn it this short, so it's hard to change my mind about what's pretty and feminine. I mean, for my whole life, long and soft and shiny and flowing and straight have gone hand in hand with what's beautiful. What I'm working with now is short and tight and coily. And while I talked a good game about Naomi Wolf's beauty myth and bell hooks' oppositional gaze, when I looked in the mirror, I just wanted wavy fairy tale hair. It is taking some serious mental and emotional shifts in my own concept of beauty. Some days I feel like a little boy. Others I feel like a sassy, hip chic from the 70s (which is clearly the decade where I belong!) It's also not just that I have to change the way I think about how I look. I also have had to reject many of the things I thought I knew about black hair. Grease, for instance. What little brown girl hasn't taken her seat on the floor between her mother's feet, having her scalp oiled? Or sat in the kitchen, holding her ear, trying hard to believe that "it's just the grease melting," that she wasn't actually being set on fire? Only now does it make sense that that hair is essentially being fried like a piece of catfish. But I'm glad that I'm taking this journey.
Even if my own hair days are up and down, it's forced me to learn enough to do a better job with The Babydoll's hair. I've gotten pretty good at braiding it, and it's much better moisturized than it used to be. And when we saw "Imagine That" last summer, she immediately wanted to wear twists like the beautiful girl in the film. So I YouTubed it and learned how. It was a transformative moment for a brown girl. When she looked in the mirror, she saw herself in a whole new way. But, clearly, we'll have to keep evolving.
Not long ago, she was harping about this style that she wanted. She said that when she saw it on TV again, she would show me. I'm thinking that it would be a picture of a girl who looks like her. But, oh on. It was freaking, fracking Barbie. And not just Barbie; it was Barbie with stick-straight, Beyonce's wind machine, platinum blond hair. The Barbie in the picture above.
Now, what am I supposed to do with that?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In the words of Michael Jackson . . .

"If you don't want a baby; don't have a baby."

So, I hear that a male birth control pill is nearly complete. This could be revolutionary. Could this shift the responsibility out of the sole hands of women? If men can prevent unintentional pregnancies--and without having to sacrifice their own pleasure--will they?

I think of how profound it must have been for women to finally be able to control their own fertility, privately and relatively easily. Although it changed sex for women, I'm going to go ahead and assert that men don't need to be released from sexual repression. But many men, I think, need to be released from the idea that they have no control about when and how they make a baby, that they have to rely on the honesty and careful consideration of a woman. Of course, this hasn't actually been true for years and years (hello, condoms!) But if men can make that decision on their own, it strikes one more excuse for"I didn't plan this! I didn't want this! I don't want to pay for this!" Will that be enough to have men to agree not to make babies they don't want? Wouldn't that be revolutionary? When people parent (or don't) children who they don't want and can't afford, bad things happen. If there is one more way to interrupt that cycle, couldn't that change everything?

Will it?

Friday, July 22, 2011

And on a similar note

After my recent television watching weirdness, I've been totally mesmerized (anew) by "The Waltons"--now that's good TV. What a different image and public narrative about poverty and "work ethic" and family and community and compassion and even race (recently watched the episode when Pa defends the wrongly convicted black man). Good stuff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I watch too much TV . . .

Is anyone watching "Dance Moms" on Lifetime???? OMG! What the heck?! I can hardly even describe the atrocious attitude of this dance "teacher". I've heard coaches, including dance teachers, yell at students. I've heard them push. I've heard Lydia Grant: "You want fame? Well fame costs . . . ." But the owner of this studio has more than once (I'm only on episode two) implied/stated that she feels like she is raising these children. And yet, she seems to have zero respect for the actual parents. She was annoyed because one of the moms tried to take her daughter, who'd been up since 6am and hadn't completed her homework yet, home before 9pm. After watching a teary scene in the parking lot, she said, "I don't know what all that was out there," but you need to get to tap class. Any input from the mothers ("the costume is too skimpy!" "the dance is too sexy!) is met with a "like it or screw yourself" response. Her goal, clearly, is to get them to Broadway. Whether or not they are whole or healthy or normal when (IF) they get there seem off the table. It's disturbing. The mothers seem to struggle with the weirdness of this strange world, but they also often speak in the plural when they talk about performances. I don't understand what the goal is for them. To have their daughters simply become great dancers? to have lucrative careers? to win competitions? I don't get why parents would do this much and spend this much money and time for a child who is nine years old. And, I think that there's something wrong with people who need to be famous. It's hard to watch. Maybe I won't anymore. Okay, I probably will. But it will be uncomfortable.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Things

So, I'm at a turning point in my hair transition. I finally took out the kinky twists, so that now the only thing on my head is the hair that grows out of it, unchanged. I washed and conditioned it, then looked in the mirror.

It was jarring, this knotted/knotting puff with no definition.

I went to the stylist who has been helping me transition and she put in two strand twists. But . . . they are small and tight and close to my head. I'm having a hard time with it. I think I'm going to take them down and try a couple of the styles that I keep seeing on the (many) hair blogs that I've been lurking around for months. So, wish me good hair days. Please.

On a semi-related note, I'm two classes into swim lessons. Having my hair exist without the chemicals makes getting in the pool easier and I'm excited, if nervous. It's kind of hard to make my body do these unfamiliar tasks, just like it's proving difficult to fully make this paradigm shift about my hair. Two important observations: perhaps "dead man's float" isn't the best choice for teaching beginning swimmers--hello!; the teacher told me in the first class that I, like she, have a dense body type that makes it harder to float. Where was this information when I was a child, thinking that something was deficient and weird about my body that kept me from being able to swim?! And one more thing: I know I'm not supposed to swallow the pool water, but it happens. What I want to know is why I can taste it in the back of my throat all flippin' day?