Good Hair: for Colored Girls Who Considered Weave When the Chemicals Got too Rough, by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner. Originally published in 1994.
One of the things that happens when you decide to live a healthier, more natural life is that you look at every aspect of what that means. Over the past decade or so black women started doing the “big chop” (cutting off chemically straightened hair and starting over with their natural texture of hair). I said back then that there was no way I was going to cut off my shoulder length hair and start over from scratch. This, even though the women in my family actually grow a pretty decent head of hair. Our daughter did her big chop in 2012 and went from 1 inch hair to this in about 3 years:
She straightened it once for a formal event and it was slightly longer than shoulder length. Not bad for 3 years. Still, I was unconvinced, especially since the decision isn’t mine alone to make.
As I started working more and more towards optimum health, even putting myself through the torture of regular boot camp workouts, it seemed ridiculous to do all of this and continue to slather my scalp with harsh chemicals for the appearance of length and the expensive ease of styling. It’s unhealthy as well as unnatural.
I still haven’t taken the plunge, but I am inching closer to it and I started reading up on ways to get there without a “big chop”. My daughter was 17 when she did it and I am NOT 17. I need my hair.
I ran across Lonnice Bonner’s Good Hair in the library and since it’s a short book, I knew I could spend an hour reading on a subject that I probably already knew more than enough about. But I read it anyway.
The book contains Bonner’s journey towards wearing her natural hair in all its glory, starting with the all too familiar review of the things most black women remember from childhood. The hair tugging, hair straightening and tight corn rows we all grew up with which made us weary of our locks and sent us running to the nearest salon for a solution as soon as we were old enough and/or had the money. Whichever came first.
This author’s journey was much more perilous than mine to be sure. I’m conservative by nature with a husband who hates weaves and wigs so I have never been particularly adventurous when it comes to my hair.
However, I watched from the sidelines as many of my friends and relatives drifted from hot combs to Jeri curls to weaves and wigs and everything in between. Bonner’s journey was one I’d seen countless times before. She finally made peace with her hair, the hair God gave her, and it looks fantastic.
It isn’t great writing by any stretch, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to let other women know that even after all the damage and drama they have inflicted on themselves fighting against their hair, that they can make peace with it too.
Clearly this is not a book my most of my readership will have any need or inclination to read, but I read it, so I reviewed it.