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Reflecting on the Meaning of 'Good Hair' for Black Women: Queen Aishah

Queen Aishah
Queen Aishah (Juana Arias - Juana Arias/ftwp)

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Queen Aishah

38, Bowie, comedian

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Being a child growing up in New Jersey, "good hair" meant wavy, long hair on a girl who was light-skinned. It was different than my hair, which needed a comb. We would get greasy Jheri Curls or Vigorol, which sta-ank!

When I was 10, my hair broke off and my mother cut off all my hair. What happened was my mom was going to stop giving us Jheri Curls. She couldn't afford it anymore. When going from a relaxer and the hair is not being treated properly, it breaks. . . . She decided to cut all the Jheri Curl out. [After that,] my hair was matted.

One day my girlfriend in the seventh grade, she gave me a comb for a present. It broke my heart. To this day it brings tears to my eyes. I didn't cry then but my heart sank in my stomach. She gave me a comb in front of my seventh grade class.

I really wanted to beat her up. She had wrapped the comb like a present. It was wrapped like in Christmas paper. I said, "Oh, I got a gift." Because we didn't have gift exchange in [our] house. [Then] I was like, "Oh my God! What did she get me?"

And then everybody busted out laughing. It was homeroom. It was an embarrassing thing.

Now, I'm natural by choice. The first time I tried it, it was the late '90s. One of my mother's girlfriends, I noticed her [relaxed] hair was always sharp, but thinnning. I said to myself when I turn 30 I'm going to stop perming my hair. I cut the perm out. My new growth was coming in. It finally came to a point where I thought I was ready to wear it natural. I did "Showtime at the Apollo." I won. I felt beautiful. My hair is fierce.


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