And here comes the hair thing… again.
Some months have passed since I wrote the last post about hair and I consider that now I have much more experience to talk about it. Has my opinion changed?
Well, no really. Actually as time goes by, I believe more and more that all the fuzz about Black/African hair has no real merit.
I still maintain my position and I know that I’m taking good care of my children’s hair.
There is really no reason for any adoptive parent of a black child to believe that he/she has to go trough special training to care for the hair of his/her adopted child.
African people have been taking care of their hair since the beginning of humankind and they have done a pretty good job so far. Even in places where means are scarce, they always find a way to care for their hair and to keep it growing in their heads. It’s known that many people in Ethiopia use just plain Vaseline to keep it easy to comb and in place and once in a while they use butter to moisturize it. It probably sounds disgusting to Western ears, but hey, they do what they can with what they have and as far as I know, none of them have become bald… Yes, maybe butter is not the best “moisturizer”, but they can’t afford expensive hair products that cost from $10 and up a bottle. They don’t have the luxury to choose which brand and type to use. Curl activator or styling cream? Vanilla or coconut? Light lotion or heavy cream? Let’s be real, they have more urgent matters in their hands, like, dinner tonight or an empty stomach?
I’m saying all this just to make a point. We are so spoiled that we care about brands and ingredients to put in our hairs and forget about the real issues of life.
Yes, I can afford expensive products, but are they really worth the money I pay for them? Isn’t it better to spend that money in things that matter more? I’ve tried products, regular ones that you can find in any supermarket and also those you can only buy online and pay good money for them, and honestly… I don’t find much of a difference. There are many expensive products (over $10) that are REALLY crappy, and there are regular ones that do a pretty good job for only $4 o $5 a bottle. There are products labeled as “natural”, “organics” or whatever you call them that will make you hate mother nature, and there are “chemical” products (natural products are also chemical, by the way) that are exactly formulated for what they do, take care of your hair! It seems that we enter in all this hype about African hair and how difficult it is to take care of and to style, and that we need the “right” product, etc, etc, when it’s really not true. I have two African kids that came from Ethiopia with REAL African hair on their heads and we are doing really well, thanks.
Feven has what it’s known in the African culture as “good hair”, that would be a 3a or 3b according to “connoisseurs”, so it’s pretty easy to comb and style, doesn’t tangle if you keep it moisturized and tied at night. Feromsa on the opposite side has what African Americans call “kinky” hair, like a 4b or maybe more, like c or d, if it exists… Very dry, very tight curls, tangles easily, hard to keep moisturized and tidy.
I love both hair types and last time I checked they are still there, crowing their heads and cushioning their beautiful brains…
African hair is not difficult. African hair is just different from Caucasian hair and it needs another type of care, that’s all!
Dylan and me, we both have the typical Caucasian hair, fine and straight so I can easily compare ours to those of Feromsa and Feven. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are the lucky ones that have REALLY good hair! I truly mean it. I can’t talk about Miguel’s hair since he lost it a while ago, and he’s quite happy to be bald, believe or not, one less thing to worry about (according to him).
Now, about the “REALLY good hair” of the title. Since when you can keep a style on your head for more than a day when you have straight hair? Since when you can go weeks without washing your straight hair?
Anyone? I don’t think so…
When you have black curly hair you can go from one to three weeks (even a month)with the same style and without washing your hair. Maybe doesn’t sound pretty to white people, but it’s completely normal and healthy for natural African hair.
We are so obsessed with cleanliness, perfect shinny flowing hair that we dismiss anything that doesn’t conform to our white standards.
African hair is dry and doesn’t shine, but that’s NORMAL people! Just keep it moisturized and don’t mess with it and you will be fine. African hair is fragile, keep it in protective styles, let it breathe once in a while and again don’t mess with it!
Now the subject of styling African hair. You don’t need to take a class to learn how to style African hair. It’s not rocket science! It’s just hair. If you child is very young, don’t mess too much with her delicate hair. If she’s a little bit older, you can start with just pony tails, or a simple braid. Later you can “upgrade” to Bantu knots, flat twists, cornrows, etc. Yeah, maybe the first cornrow will be all crooked, but the learning curve is fast. In no time you’ll be styling your daughter’s hair like a pro. Really. Just practice and patience and no pressure, you and your children will be fine.
I now can style Feven’s hair very easily, nothing too complicated for us, since she’s only two and I don’t want to bother her too much, it’s supposed to be fun, not a torture. I’m making cornrows already and and it took me just a few weeks to get into the braiding rhythm, but I now find them quite easy to make.
With Feromsa is a little more complicated. For starters, he’s a boy. I can’t even make him dress or bathe when he’s supposed to, so less can I make him stay still to detangle his hair. I really love the texture of his tight curls, but we couldn’t get to a decent length to do something more interesting with them. So far, it’s very short hair or short Afro. I tried to lock his hair but he and his hair are simply not ready yet for that. I don’t insist too much with him, I’m glad that at least he lets me wash and condition and brush his hair and we will keep it short for now. I mean, he’s the typical boy, active, messy and loud. He has put on his hair anything you can imagine, from sand to mud, from toothpaste to food. So better to keep things easy, he has other stuff to take care of right now.
I consider African hair beautiful, and REALLY good hair, taking care of it and styling is part of their heritage, but I don’t want to create the idea in their minds that their hair is “difficult” because it’s not.
I’m just trying to keep it real. I have a gazillion things to do everyday and hair is definitely not a priority in my life. I also want to tell other parents of adoptive children from Ethiopia that please don’t loose sleep over their hair, there are so many, many things to worry about when you bring home an adopted child from another race and culture that hair is just nothing compared to that.
To end this post, a couple of photos, Feven’s cornrows and Feromsa’s tidy afro. Not bad, right?