– – the ‘fro

Once upon a time in a far away land, a little girl was born to a white mummy and a black daddy. She was a sweet little thing with pale skin and straight dark hair. Over time her skin darkened to a lovely brown shade and her hair grew curlier until it became a mass of frizzy spirals.

She really liked her hair, all frizzy and sticking up like that. It was different to other people’s hair.

Her friends with two white parents had straight hair that moved. Her friends with two black parents had tight curls that didn’t move. Hers also didn’t move, but it wasn’t quite the same as theirs. The curls weren’t as tight. It was kind of in-between black and white, just like she was.

And her skin? She loved it! For some reason it seemed that in her homeland people liked the lighter shade of brown skin that she had. It made her feel special…as if she was somehow more beautiful because of her lighter skin.

She secretly felt a little pleased that she looked different to the others. She loved the thought and feeling of being beautiful. 

Soon after her seventh birthday, her family moved to her mother’s homeland. In this new country, unlike her father’s homeland, more people were white than black. And they all had hair that moved.

She started wishing she could look like them. They were so pretty with their light skin and loose flowing locks. She felt very out of place and she started to dislike her hair…the way it stuck out all frizzy and without movement. And as for her skin? Well, now being the only dark skinned child in her new school, she quickly came to understand that  it wasn’t necessarily a good thing to be brown in this new country. The fact that she was a light shade of brown made no difference…brown was brown.

Instead of feeling special because of the color of her skin, she now felt unwanted and unloved because of it. She was teased often. She was excluded from play. She was sad and cried a lot (in secret so her parents wouldn’t know). She wanted to go back home, where she could be beautiful and special again.

Then one day her parents moved to another suburb and she started attending a new school. There she met other dark skinned children, like her. Well kind of like her. While their skin was the same as hers, they had hair like white girls. Hair that moved. So she still felt different to them with her frizzy curls all up in the air. And although she made some nice friends at this new school, a very bad seed had unfortunately already been planted in her heart.

She looked in the mirror and she hated what she saw.

It’s a strong word, hate. But that is truly how she felt. She took no delight in the reflection gazing back at her. And she assumed that everyone else felt as she did about herself when they looked at her.

She started praying that God would lighten her skin, and that her curls would straighten. But He didn’t answer her prayers.

She daydreamed about having hair that moved, and many times when alone in her room would drape a kanga over her head, pretending it was long flowing hair. She so desperately wanted to look like her friends. White. Pretty. With hair that moved.

The years passed and she became a teenager. With that new phase of life, the feeling of being different grew even more intense. Everywhere she went she felt like she stood out. She was always the minority. Always either the only one, or one of only a handful of dark-skinned children wherever she was. School. Church. Social Clubs. Everywhere. And where there were other brown children (other than her siblings), they always had that beautiful hair that moved. None had her tight kinky curls.

Oh how she disliked her frizzy ‘fro!!

She stopped brushing it up in the air and started wearing it pulled back in a bun. That way the curls were smoothed out, hiding the frizz. For 5 years (all through high school) she wore her hair in a bun.

Then, as quickly as they began, the high school years were over and she moved on to the next phase of her education.

She left home and went interstate to a University, living on campus in a residential college. There she came across many girls from her motherland, and…oh my…their hair!! They had these amazing braids. She’d never seen such braids before. She’d worn cornrows before (that her daddy did for her when she was little), but these…well these were amazing. These braids moved like white girls’ hair.

They were long. They were beautiful. They were fake. But no matter, she just had to have them!

So she found someone to braid her hair and (tho’ it cost her more money that she was happy to part with, and more hours than she thought she’d have to give up sitting to do it, and way more pain than she’d ever had inflicted on her head) it was so totally worth it!. She swished her way around campus with her beautiful long braids. She absolutely LOVED her new hairstyle.

And so it was that the braids became her trademark style.

While at this University, she met a charming young African man. Friendship turned to dating, then came marriage. A couple of years into marriage their first child arrived, a little girl.

She had pale skin and a beautiful head of straight black hair.

Over time the baby’s skin grew darker and her hair grew curlier. As the frizz began to emerge and the hair grew longer…it started to stick up in the air, creating a little ‘fro. So the girl (perhaps now we’ll call her the mother) would do it up in cute little styles, experimenting with different looks. She preferred it ‘done up’ to the ‘all out and frizzy’ look.

Two more years passed and the mother had another child, a little boy. He too was born with a beautiful head of straight black hair. And like his sisters’, it grew curlier and became frizzier, then eventually started to stick up too. Perhaps it was because he was a boy, but it was different this time. There was no other style she could do with his hair except leave it sticking up as it grew. Everyone who saw him would stop and comment on his hair saying how cute he looked with it all up in the air. So much hair, such a nice round shape it was. The mother liked it too, so she left it that way for a long time. She did cut it eventually (it was getting hard to brush), but she knew it would grow back again, all up in the air and oh so cute!

Around the time her little boy had his first haircut, the mother (now pregnant with her third child), also cut her hair really short. However being pregnant it began to grow back very fast and after a couple of months she braided it again. Some time after her baby (another little girl) was born she took the braids out and her hair was oh so frizzy and sticking out everywhere.

She wondered…should she braid it again, or should she straighten it? She looked down at her new little baby with a head full of beautiful black hair just starting to curl…and she smiled to herself. It was time. Time to brush her hair up high and wear it proudly. So out came the comb, and up went the hair.

A few days later she was trying to think of a new name to give her blog. As she walked past the mirror she caught a glimpse of her reflection, and suddenly it came to her.

The girl with a ‘fro!

But the story doesn’t end here dear reader. For many more years, this girl would battle with the general issues of her hair, her skin, and her beauty (or, as she felt, lack of).

It wasn’t until after the birth of her 5th child that she was finally healed of what had been years of pent up hurts and pains, and she came to finally understand that she was not the sum of her physical appearance.

That, however, is a story for another time. For now, be assured that the girl now knows and accepts this truth…

She is not her hair. She is not her skin. She is the soul that lives within.