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I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis Missouri in a mostly white neighborhood. One of the first things I noticed was that my hair was different.
My fellow students would run their hands through their hair, flip it from side to side or pull it back into ponytails. Their hair moved... my hair didn’t move. If I pulled it back in a ponytail it stayed in a ponytail even after I removed the hair clip. I wore my hair in braids – no flipping or fluffing for me. Sometimes I wore Afro puffs, but my usual style was two braids that came together in the back.
In grade school folks used to tease me about my hair just because it was different. I was the only black girl in class and my peers considered being different a bad thing – they teased me about my dark skin and full lips and made fun of my Afro puffs. I grew to resent the things that made me different and hated my hair. Girls would ask if they could touch my Afro puffs and it felt as if I were some sort of exotic animal at the zoo they wanted to pet.
I didn’t start to like my hair and it’s unique texture until I was in college, where I met other women of color who wore their hair with pride and celebrated the difference whether their hair was straightened or natural.
I came to understand that difference isn’t a bad thing and there is a lot of hair diversity out there.
I now wear an Afro and I love it!
Some people still ask if they can touch my hair and the answer is no.
I am not an exotic animal at the zoo.
I understand that some people may be curious about the texture of my Afro, but that doesn’t mean they get to satisfy their curiosity by petting my hair.
Have you had similar experiences?
Drop a comment and let me know!