I Am Not Normal (Neither Are You)

I have curly hair.

Seriously curly hair.

It is pretty great.

Curly hairIt has been part of my identity for my whole life. As a kid, ask me to describe myself and I’d say something like: I’m smart and I have curly hair. These things are me.

They are also the things that make me abnormal.

Sometimes I have awful haircuts because stylists don’t always know what to do with my hair. It isn’t “normal.”

Once I went for a haircut and they washed my hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove all the oils. I think it’s the kind of thing my silky-straight-hair friends would love. I came out a frizzy, brittle-haired mess. I wore hats for two weeks.

In school I was teased for my hair. Comparisons were made to an NBA player well known for his afro.

One time a fancy salon offered me a free relaxing treatment (to straighten my hair) if they could use me as a model. The salon owner looked confused when I said No thanks, I like my curls.

The offer to straighten my hair was just marketing, but the energy behind it was ugly: You will be happier and more attractive if you make your hair “normal.”

The idea of “normal” can be oppressive. It makes us feel ashamed of our differences, nudges us to hide or over-identify with them.

How much of our lives do we spend

wondering if we are…

hoping we are…

trying to look…

                   NORMAL.

I think we need a new category. I like Micah Bournes’ idea.