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He’s had this ongoing obsession with what I do with the hair on my head since I took over doing my hair at about 12, oddly enough also the year I declared I wanted to be a writer. My hair has consistently has been one of our biggest conflicts with figurative jabs and body blows lobbed in each direction. Over the years, I’ve wondered if this is a control thing, a previous generation thing, even a self-hate thing as I share my texture with him rather than my mother whose un-permed mane air-dries and waves, instead of kinks, curls, and fluffs. None of those explanations seemed to stick though.

This round, well beyond the twelfth, my father has gone a step further. He decided my desire to be “counter-culture” (his term, not mine) hints at deeper problem, namely my lack of self-love. He offered to pay for me to see a therapist.

At twenty-something, I would have hung up on him. Now I “woo-sah” and recall the Second Agreement: don’t take anything personally. There’s no sense in getting angry when his problem with my hair is his problem, not mine.

But still, I’ve spent the last day rolling my eyes every time I think about this conversation. (He also added that I remind him of “that girl at UCLA.” Daddy  meant Angela Davis, and he meant that comparison as an insult, but I beamed at the idea.) As such, I finally arrived at a new reason we’ve been battling all these years. This was never about hair, and always about my inability to toe the clichéd line. My Dad will swear on a stack of Bibles that I’m wrong, but it’s the first answer that makes sense to me.

He’s a corporate guy and an ex-military man who believes in stability and structure and following the rules. I’m an artistic type who believes writing is an occupation, not a hobby (he told me the opposite upon entering college), a habitual line stepper who wants to explore and is frustrated by sitting still for long periods. As a teenager and young adult, I resented his way of the world, picturing a predictable life of contained complacency. Now, I acknowledge his stability granted me my sense of freedom and being his opposite actually gave me a feeling of having a place in the world.

My hair, natural or not, has mostly been my quiet, or so I thought, declaration that “one of these things is happily not like the other,” my Badu-esque signal that “I’m all right with me.” I guess my father heard my message loud and clear, and although my outlook has always worked in my favor, he isn’t so happy with it. I just wish he would address that instead of harping on my hair.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

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  • Belle

    Hi Adrianne:

    I did not intend for my picture to accompany the story. I didn’t submit one with my story and the picture is not included on my website or my social media. I didn’t do so particularly because I didn’t want to read posts deconstructing my look. I’m good with what I do, who I am. And I totally respect that you don’t like my look or get it. No harm, no foul.

    Really I just wanted to tap into that feeling that a lot of women have when they don’t meet the approval of someone whose approval they want– whether about hair of another topic– and share my story of finding self-acceptance in the midst of that. But you couldn’t have known that and I do get how you could conclude that I was looking for a literal dressing down.

    I’m a blogger, author and media personality. My “workplace” is either my living room where I do most of my writing, or a stage when I’m speaking/promoting my book or sharing my opinion on the topic of the day. My co-workers are TV hosts and my supervisors (in a sense) are publicists, managers, event planners and producers. I do not seek to work in an office, and when I did, I wasn’t up for one that didn’t get me in all of my glory. Luckily, I found several that did– that not only liked the extra I brought, but celebrated it.

    The idea of looking “elegant” and “classic” or “corporate” makes me shudder, though as you suggest, when I do primetime TV on HLN or CNN, I do tone it down some by adding a ruffled sweater, but never, ever, ever would I wear flats. I proudly don’t own a blazer (or a suit, talk about something that was never made for my body type!) Showing up and making a statement is literally and figuratively what pays my bills— and what landed me at the event where the photograph is taken, daytime TV.

    I consume fashion mags. My motto is “High hair! High heels! High boobs!” I find ruffles and lace joyous, and big ol’ wide stripes, too! My legs are one of my best assets; I show them as often as I can. If you have a similar body type, I implore you to find the freedom to get free too, even if it’s only the weekend. :-)

    • adriane

      Hi Belle,

      Thanks for your free-spirited reply! You do look vivacious and sexy, that is for sure. And your hair is big and beautiful; so the photo does serve you well to showcase your hair and va va voom style. When I went natural, I did a big chop, many years ago, after “fooling” everyone through a decade of texturizers and silkeners. My father is from the old school, and he couldn’t even bear to look at my curly little TWA. When he saw me for the first time go from burned out waist length waves from a texturizer to a scalp revealing mini-fro, he nearly cried. So I get it. With that being said, my hair grew out (huge) and now all is well. And while your look is not “corporate” or “classic,” clearly it serves you well and you look gorgeous. Good luck to you!

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