01/14/2014 12:29 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

#Breaking Black: I Am Not My Hair


I am not my hair.

I am not the clumps of nappy blond ringlets I was born with. I am not the bouncy, lopsided roller set bouffant my mother gave me for school picture day. I am not the neatly twisted pigtails decorated in colorful barrettes and hair bows that matched my childhood outfits; nor am I the pressed and curled tresses my cousin Bug painstakingly spent all Easter Sunday morning fixing over the rickety gas stove in our kitchen.

I am not, not my hair.

I am not the skin-tight French braids or the soul-leaching, left-on-too-long chemical relaxers that burned and damaged my scalp or Jheri curls that stained my pillows in junior high. I did not know it then, but I am not the high-top fade with two Kid N’ Play parts on the side that I donned during my house music phase, not the gel-slicked bun I wore as a U.S. Marine, not the cut-to-perfection bob I wore as a Fortune 500 executive.