The Queen's Crown: Sedequa is NOT Braiding Too Tight
Ladies, close your eyes. Envision being on your mother’s lap, shoulders hunched up in tension. Between aunty’s legs occupying your attention with Disney channel or a book. You’re doing anything to prevent your desire of grabbing the hair at the root as mom, aunty, sister, grandma, salon wages all out war with a comb and brush to your tender tresses.
The love affair a black girl has with her hair begins at birth. As relatives and family friends hover over in hopes that the beautiful baby girl made her out of her mother’s womb with a full head of silky hair. That girl grows to understand what wash day is; quickly associating the fated day with dread.
Seated for an hour or two.
Battling the tangles.
Trying to avoid being popped by the hard parts of the comb or brush.
We love the result, but damn that process is annoyingly painful. Black women don’t come to love their hair on their own nor do they initially determine what their own hair story will be. We are in a forever search of products to smooth, add shine, grow, and neutralize our hair.
But, what happens when your hair story actually calls for something different? When the castor oil and homemade pomades simply don’t work: we hide, conceal, and harbor an insecurity because we are told from the moment we open our eyes in this world that long, silky, full and bouncy is what’s beautiful.
“I’ve struggled with alopecia for years,” Sedequa Johnson, a mother and member of the Navy said. “I used to always hide my hair. Then one time my husband asked me - before we even got married, this is when we first started dating - he was like, ‘Yo I’ve never seen your hair’ and I’m like ‘oh no.’”
While attending Temple University, Sedequa wore weaves to cover her battles with alopecia and also maintain the image she desired. Good hair, as we refer to it, is everything. “I look at myself in the mirror for hours trying to figure out how to cover my hair. Even when I had locs,” she said.
Hiding the problem didn’t necessarily mean it disappeared, nor did it help cure her alopecia. So much of who we are, as we build our own identities, is tied to our outward appearance.
From lace fronts to weaves, funky pixie cuts, and braids, black women get creative with their hair in the hopes of fulfilling the pressures our own mothers tell us.
“The crazy thing was, being in the military and just even in my civilian life, it’s like I feel like I’m in this box. So when I cut off my hair I was still ready to put a wig back on because I’m like, ‘Aww man, no one’s ever seen me with no hair,’” She explained.
As we grow, though, we come into our own and realize that the old wives tales our parents swore by might actually not be true. This becomes especially true once becoming a parent, as Sedequa explained.
“My mom used to braid super tight and the issue was never how hard she was braiding it was, ‘oh you’re tender headed,’” she explained. “Then someone in the daycare, her teacher does her hair from time to time, said: ‘hey like your daughter’s hair is scabbing. I don’t know if the braids are too tight.’ I called my mama quick like, ‘You can’t braid her hair no more.”
It isn’t a question of being tender headed or difficult. Nor is it a question of millennials now “knowing more than the older generation.” The shift has arrived for self-love to be celebrated starting from the edges within before oiling down the one’s gracing our scalps.
“I just want her to be proud of her hair. We teach her that all the time. We have books for her that says I love me, I love my hair, I love my coils,” she said. “I want her to be proud of her hair no matter what she wants to do with it. I don’t want her to be in that phase where she changing her hair for other people.”
Learning to love who we are is a daily journey that never truly disappears. But, having stories celebrating the melanin in our skin, curves of our bodies, and coils of our hair are a step in showing the next generation of female movers and shakers that we are enough, no matter our preferred hair style.
Show Sedequa some love in the comments with your own hair story. When did you first fall in love with your hair?