I realize that a lot of my readers maybe of a different cultural back ground than I am. I’m Trinidadian born to Guyanese parents. I moved from Trinidad to Guyana when I was around 7ish and then to New York at 13, then to Florida for a quick spell and back to NY, which is where I reside now. I say all of this to qualify this cultural difference that I only realized recently was a clear difference in culture.
When I was younger, in the Caribbean, there weren’t many Television stations and most of programming as rebroadcast-ed American shows and movies. I was drawn to anything old world, Victorian, with costumes or any good, real history behind it. I noticed that a huge bonding moment between Mothers and Daughters (in movies that show closeness) there is often a moment where the Mother is combing / brushing the Daughter’s hair or helping her get ready in some way. Mostly the hair though.
I remember watching those movies fondly and imagining myself in those scenarios with my mother (who was in New York while I was in Guyana, like many other parents to immigrated to find better opportunity for herself and thereby, me) but not ever realizing the reality of myself in that situation.
Like many girls in the Caribbean, I’m mixed. My hair is curly. Not wavy. No. Not, wavy. Wavy is different. I mean curly. Multiple curl patterns too because, well, why not? Combing my hair was the least favorite part of my young life. I remember it with disdain. Having a sensitive scalp didn’t help either; trying to tell your aunty that she’s pulling your braids too tight when she has to braid three other pickney hair and get you ready for school is not really something you want to do. Please follow this advice if you are ever in this situation. You will get it, with the brush or you will just get ignored until ever unruly knot is brushed.
I dreamed of it though, of my hair being long and silky like an Indian Movie star as my Mother brushed my hair with long strokes and imparted wisdom beyond my range to understand.
I never once, in my fantasies of my Mother brushing my hair, take into account that my hair wasn’t at all like that and I didn’t like when other people combed my hair.
When my Grandmother started letting my comb my hair myself, was a triumphant day. It was my first day of high school in Guyana, I was 9. Surprise surprise, I put it in a bun and slicked down my edges. I felt brand new. To this day, I hate the salon experience simply because other people will be touching my hair and I’m really tired of being looked at weird when I flinch when they “massage” (read, scrape) your scalp with their nails in attempt to wash it.
Thankfully, I have an amazing dryer and I’m slowly learning to embrace my curl pattern; mostly because blow drying and flat ironing is too time consuming and I’m not always willing to exert that much energy on my hair. Although, curly hair has it’s own unique issues but I digress.
It was really weird and refreshing to recall this randomly as I was book hunting online earlier, I love being able to appreciate my naivete and my ability to dream. Even at such a young age.
What’s something that put your culture in perspective?