Mixed kids with bad hair- I know you’ve seen them! Walking down the street with their white parent, hair looking unkempt, tragic. Hair that is badly in need of conditioner, wide-tooth comb and some Carol’s Daughter. I knew this one mixed girl- she looked like she had just stuck her hand in an electric socket! Oh wait, that wasn’t some kid I saw on the street- that was me in the 5th grade 😦
Don’t get me wrong- my white mother had my hair was looking right and tight throughout early childhood. My curls were kept under wraps, combed through, and braided up. I was just never allowed to wear it out. Eventually I got fed up with the restrictions and the massive tangles and decided I wanted a short hair-cut I wanted to be just like my cousins, aunts and Denise from the Cosby Show. who were all rocking some fabulous late eighties short styles:
Except my mother took me to the Supercuts by our house (Midtown Atlanta) for the haircut. The owner- a small Mexican dude with a big personality, was not familiar with “Denise Huxtable” style. The only “black” style he could do was a boy’s box cut. By the time he got through hedging me up, I was looking more like Cockroach than Denise 😦
This was undoubtedly the darkest chapter in my hair history. It happened when I was 10 and I refused to go near another pair of scissors until the age of 12. By eigth grade my hair had finally grown back, even curlier than before. I couldn’t complain though, at least people had stopped mistaking me for a boy! Right around the same time Appetite For Destrction had reached its’ pinnacle of popularity and the white boys at school had become fond of telling me how much my hair reminded them of elusive lead guitar player of thier favorite band: Slash from Guns and Roses:
Now, Slash is not a bad looking rock and roll dude- but that was not exactly a compliment considering the fact I was a preteen girl, and no one has ever really seen his face. Surprisingly these young men were not usually being mean-spirited by their comparison. Some of them even said it to me like it was a compliment. I realize now that it was their way of putting me and my hair into context. There were no other mixed people around with which to categorize me. For a lot of these boys, I was the only mixed person they knew–well– just me and Slash, of course. But I was the first one they had met.
After revisiting this image of Slash from The Black LIst, I’m ready to admit that our hair texture is quite similar- except my hair is probably twice as thick.
Needless to say, I was one ambi-middle-schooler who was slightly less than successful in the social arena…