“Be careful who you marry because your kids might have carpet texture hair,” warned my friend.
Carpet what? I repeated to myself. I had never heard the term before, but I refused to hit her with a snappy comeback because as ignorant as it was, it said more about her than it did me. I thought about how she, with her hair just a bit looser than mine, which ain’t that loose (without being an expert I’d call mine a 4c) had really bought into the hair hierarchy. And now she was telling me how to pick a mate. She probably felt a sense of urgency because I had just started getting serious with a guy from Africa. With both our nappy heads she probably envisioned a family so full of carpet that if we all lied down on the floor people would walk right over us.
Five years later, we had a beautiful ‘carpet-texture’-haired baby. From day one, her hair did not slick down from the baby oil that comes with every baby shower gift. If I am to be perfectly honest, it made me a little uncomfortable. Though I had been wearing my hair natural for at least six years, four of them with locs, I had never been one to embrace the picked out look, though I loved in on people like Cicely Tyson and Angela Davis. I was still trying to emulate a look that I felt was pretty and acceptable so I spent the majority of my time twisting and weighing my hair down with products designed to “bring out the natural curl.” So when I looked at my baby with a full head of carpet texture hair I wondered if it might make for a harder life. This was before Instagram and people everywhere were rocking short naturals. And let’s me be real for a minute, rare is the baby or little girl who is rocking a short, picked out fro. Whenever we went places, Black women would appear out of thin air, giving me advice on what products I could use to make her hair grow. As she got older they’d recommend hair braiders.
It’s interesting though, because after a few years, I started looking at her hair, and the simplicity of her life, and it was much easier than mine. While I was spending all my time fighting with my carpet texture, she was embracing hers.
One day, I decided that I’d had enough crèmes and leave-ins and I couldn’t do another two-strand twist. So I went to a barber named Deana in LA, who was referred by my hairdresser and friend Felicia Leatherwood. I didn’t even know what I wanted, I just knew that it needed to look and feel like freedom. And when she was done I had a short, asymmetrical cut that I loved! The best part was that all I had to do was pick it out, pat it down, and go!
My daughter is 7 ½ years old now and we’re both in a great place with our hair. It’s not to say that she hasn’t had any issues. When she was in preschool a little girl told her that her hair was “ugly.” But she breezed right through it telling the girl, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, my hair is beautiful!” Damn right.
I tell her, and my second daughter whose hair is short and thicker than everybody’s, that same thing everyday. It’s what I never heard growing up. Who was going to tell a nappy-headed kid that her hair was beautiful back then? It also helps that I’m surrounded by a gorgeous group of Black women with bald, short, and all kinds of textured hair. I’m a huge instawhore so I’m constantly showing both my daughters pictures of beautiful Black women with short naturals. Then there’s the gorgeous, graceful, 10-year-old Jade Jackson who rocks her carpet texture like a little queen. I think what might help the most is seeing me, her mom, comfortable in the hair I’m in. I can’t wait for the day that I can explain to her that she was the biggest gift I could ever have in my own hair journey.
This article first appeared on Madamenoire.com