Good Hair

good hair  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:

curly girl

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.

Grade: C

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7 thoughts on “Good Hair

  1. My 57-year-old sister also grows a luxurious head of hair so I am hopeful…if I settle on it and get the go ahead from the man.

    The book was helpful. We’ll see.

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  2. I like the natural look better myself. I guess I just like to see people being who they are. In that vein, I’ve more or less stopped worrying about my “Scottish hair” that forms an outer layer of frizz when it’s humid. 😛

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  3. The thing though Booky, is that I don’t know that changing your hair is a denial of who you are.

    One of the things I appreciated about this book was the acknowledgment of how so many of us got to the point of straightening our hair more permanently with chemicals.

    You eventually get to the point where you like the length (if you spend the money to care for it it gets long, otherwise it just breaks).

    But that’s not where you start from. After spending most of your child hood dreading even the thought of getting your hair combed, you just want to stop that madness. And the quickest way out after that? Chop it all off and start over, LOL. Yeah.

    Like I said, two of our girls did that. But they weren’t married. I’ve seen a few husbands very unhappy with their wives’ decision to go natural.

    So…I’m trying to gradually transition which is fraught with its own set of issues. Not the least of which is trying to look good throughout the process. But if it goes well perhaps by year’s end I’ll be ready.

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  4. I remember the number that perming my hair did on it, I can’t imagine what doing the reverse would do, especially as those chemicals have to be applied more often. Oh well, at least there’s no sun-in involved in your mix. 🙂

    Erika B did the cut – and looked smashing for the whole process. Can link her blog if you don’t have it, and yes- she’s your age, married, and stylish as all get out.

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  5. Ah right, I didn’t mean it quite like that (a denial of who you are) – guess I didn’t think that through! I’ve seen that hair combing process on kids (and adults for that matter) and yeah, I can imagine one would get pretty fed up with that. I can also imagine that having (awesome, I might add) hair like TPC (I assume that’s her on her side bar, if the pic is still there) is a fair amount of work – work that, knowing myself as I do, I wouldn’t want to bother with.

    Right, I’ll take my mostly straight hair and shut up now, lol.

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  6. You know you’re more than welcome to weigh in!

    So often (because black women’s hair is a -seriously- political issue) it is assumed that those of us who straighten our hair do so to have what other women have.

    But I just wanted to be free of the pain of having my head tugged at. I was 15 in an all black town. It was much later that I viewed relaxed hair as preferable for aesthetic reasons.

    My response to you was knee jerk based on how I have learned to react to the natural hair Nazis who accuse straight haired girls of self hate.

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  7. It’s ridiculous how this sort of thing becomes political – it’s just hair; do what you want with it! No one seems to accuse all the women who dye their hair, or even those who get curly perms, of self-hatred, so if you’re going to be consistent…

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