I'm sorry but you're story makes me smile. When you wrote that your mother said "tame the afro" it made think of a sitcom or a movie. also the fact that you're a preschool teacher is very interesting. I guess I'm saying that you're a very good writer, maybe you should consider writing a book about your life? I would read it.I have always had curly hair, but my mom would try to brush it out every morning. I would cry every single time.
I usually wore my hair wavy and frizzy, as straighteners didn't exist when I was in high school. I used a curling iron to "straighten" my hair for prom! In college, I realized I had always had curly hair that had been trapped in a ponytail for years so I wore it curly and bought products for the first time. My college friends loved it, but one day when I was working I relapsed into that terrible mental state of junior high (where kids said I didn't have "hair," I just had "frizz"). As a pre-school teacher, I had very sweet students. One girl (4 years old) had stick straight hair and loved my curly locks. Then one day she told me that her mom had told her that I didn't brush my hair and that's why "it looked like that."
What's funny about that incident is that I felt like we had the same mothers. This incident actually propelled me to straighten my hair the next week and received lots of compliments for the last few years whenever it's straight.
Other wonderful comments--
From a co-worker: "I have curly hair but only wear it that way when I feel like being lazy." Same co-worker: "You could be a white Beyonce for Halloween."
Another co-worker: "Are you going for the 80s look today?"
My cousin's wife saw a picture of me with straight hair and said to me, "You look like a model with straight hair. You should wear it like that."
Hairdresser: "You have a ton of hair. I hear that when people get pregnant their curls naturally relax and change texture. So there's hope for you!"
In junior high: "Your hair is ugly." Also I got the name "Poof Poof." And the kids who tried to throw junk into my hair thinking I wouldn't feel it.
Now I'm in my mid-20s, and one of my students said, "Wow, how do you manage all of that hair?" And then giggled to her friend.
Also, last Christmas my mom actually stopped taking the family picture to have me go to the mirror and "tame the afro." The tears began forming, and I felt embarrassed that it still affects me so much. When my mom met me for lunch last month she said, "Well I'm sooo glad you tried to fix your hair when I take you out to lunch (sarcasm). Don't you own a comb? It looks like a mop. Did you bring a rubberband?"
What's sad is that I actually believe the comments in a way. I still wear it curly a lot, but I'd like to be confident enough to wear it curly everyday. I also don't understand why people act like it's my fault that my hair is curly, that it's some sign of being ugly in itself.