As I have mentioned before, when I was young, I loathed my hair.  It was different than everyone else’s hair and I couldn’t figure out why.  I would look at girls with long, straight blonde ponytails and just long for them silently.  My own hair was curly and frizzy, big and unmanageable and I couldn’t figure out why.  I didn’t know how to deal with it and neither did my mom and so it was usually put up in a curly ponytail that never seemed to grow longer.  Sigh.

Then my mom told me she was biracial.  Which was a huge shock because her dad died before I was born and no one thought to tell us kids he was black.  My mom, though considered black on her birth certificate, is quite light skinned and can pass for white.  Her facial features and hair definitely look mixed but because of her skin tone, people assume she is Italian or something.

Now,  when my mom told me she was biracial, she did it in a weird way.  I was in the third grade, and we had a project for school where we were tracking our ancestors.  They wanted to know what countries they had come from, etc.  My mom told me her dad was Italian.  So I wrote that in.  Then she started to get upset.  She took me aside and told me that she had a secret to tell me but that I could never tell anyone in the world because then they would hate us.  I specifically couldn’t tell her friend who lived next door because she, especially, would hate us.  I tell you, I was afraid to hear the secret!  Then she said, “Your grandfather was black”.  Not, I’m half-black.  Not, my dad was black.  No, it was your grandfather was black.  At first, I didn’t know who she was talking about because I had met my dad’s dad and he wasn’t black.  And she had never mentioned her father to me before this project.  Then when I realized that she was talking about her dad, I still didn’t understand why people would hate us.  My best friend at the time was a little black girl and nobody hated her.  In fact, she was popular.  And why would my mom’s friend hate us?  She liked us a lot.  She was always over at our house.  I didn’t understand.

But, I was excited.  I finally had the key to what, exactly, was different about my hair.  It wasn’t the same as my best friend’s hair, but it was closer to her hair than it was to being long, straight, swingy blonde ponytails!  I immediately changed my project to show that my mom’s dad was black and not Italian.  My mom was really nervous about this but she let me do it.  However, she did make me promise not to tell her friend, and I never did.  (Side note, my mom’s friend DID eventually find out my mom was half-black and she did drop my mom because of it.  Racism runs deep in some people, I guess).  My mom’s nerves made me nervous and I was so afraid to turn in my project!  I worried about whether my teacher, who I adored, would then hate my guts.

…Nothing happened!  She hung my project up with the other kids, and she didn’t hate me and neither did anyone else in the class or the school because of it.  It was such a relief.  And it taught me not to be ashamed of who I am.  If someone asks me my heritage, I tell them.  Otherwise it doesn’t come up.  If someone makes a racist joke in front of me, I tell them.  Apparently, they aren’t racist because a LOT of their friends are black.  mmm hmmm.

I still don’t really feel like I fit in.  My hair is still different.  It’s still difficult.  I’ve made peace with it, but I wish it was easier hair.  The reason I’m writing about hair is that my oldest daughter just chopped all of her hair off.  She went from waist-length hair to a darling pixie cut for the beginning of her senior year of highschool.   It looks so great on her!  She has the hair I always wanted.  It’s wavy, not frizzy.  It’s thick and can hold a curl or you can straighten it easily.  She has… Julia Robert’s hair.  And she takes it for granted.  She donated her ponytail to locks of love.

I could never have a hair cut like this.  I would look like a salt-and-pepper Little Orphan Annie, and because it is so curly and because it grows so slowly, I would be a Little Orphan GRANNY before it looked like me again.  It would not be pretty.  When I say Clementine takes her hair for granted, I mean it.   All I did when I was younger was obsess on my hair.  It took up an INORDINATE amount of my time.  I could fix it and fix it and still have it look atrocious, so I find it almost inconceivable that not everyone has to do this.  Apparently, if you were blessed by the hair fairies at birth, you don’t give your hair a second thought.  You fix it in the morning and can then go about your day, confident that when you get home that night, even on the most humid, sultry day, your hair will still look the same as it did that morning.  You can also, on a whim, decide to chop it all off, supremely confident that not only will it look wonderful, but even if it doesn’t, it will quickly grow out.

There are a lot of things in life that are unfair, but I tell you… this is the one that has caused me the most grief.  Well, maybe not the MOST grief, but it’s definitely top five.  Definitely…

And yes, I am sad to admit that I probably AM just as vain and pathetic as this post shows that I am.

(I am happy for Clem though.  She looks fantastic!)

New toon up…