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*Photo via The Anderson Cooper Show

I had an “interesting” conversation with my father yesterday. Since I left my job in October, he’s become the unofficial manager of my multi-hyphenated career, a self-appointed role he took on after he retired. I enjoy his insight and our light-hearted daily talks as I remember a time where there was a great chasm between us. But over the years, we settled into a very adult-like agreement to disagree, even if I’m honest, we’ve been walking on clichéd eggshells trying to avoid each other’s minefields.

We were doing so well until, an act of seeming betrayal to all we’d rebuilt, he re-declared our war. “It’s your hair that’s holding you back,” he told me yesterday. This was a fact, not an opinion. “You won’t go where you want to go with hair like that.”

Me: Blink. Blink. “What?!”

The “that” he refers to is the tangled fluffy faux-‘fro I weaved in last month. After three years with a perm, I confidently shaved my head (and dyed it platinum blonde) in September to start anew. I did it the weekend I made the final decision to resign from my job and strike out on my own and I lovingly referred to my new look as my “Freedom ‘Fro.” I loved it. He didn’t like it, of that I was sure. But he didn’t have anything nice to say, so he didn’t comment. I respected and appreciated his silence.

By February it had grown significantly and reached a length I found unflattering to my face. Straightening it wasn’t an option for me, neither was braiding it or cutting it. So I went online in search of a batch of hair close-enough to the texture that grows out of my head and added that, since it was the look I was eventually going for anyway.  For me, it solved a dilemma. For him, it was the re-emergence of an old issue, one for which he could no longer hold his tongue.

In our most recent conversation, he referred to my high school graduation photo, the one he carries in his wallet, as my best look, the one I should return to. He seems to have selective amnesia about telling me how that cut broke his heart.

“Why would you cut off all your beautiful hair?” he asked then, near tears.

I didn’t get it. It’s hair. It grows back. And if it doesn’t, I could always weave it up.

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  • mamareese

    I must admit I had a fear that I couldn’t get a corporate gig with natural hair….an afro no doubt. I was very wrong, when you present and represent yourself in the right manner, it doesn’t matter. Now going to a job with blue, pink, yellow hair now that might mess you up. Alot of women in my profession are naturals and have power play postions. I almost feel like it gives us an advantage, alot of people turn to us for leadership and all…I mean it does take a strong person to rep natural hair.

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  • apple

    I saw a picture of you with your blonde shave head and boy are you stunning! I don’t see what’s the problem!

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  • Crystal

    Wow.

    I’ve been having a similar disguised battle with one of my parents. Though not about hair but about how I choose to live myself. They are structure, stability, order, and all things in their prim & proper place while I choose a less structure, laidback, go-with-the-flow type of living. I call it organized chaos because it makes sense to me lol. Drives them nuts. I walk to the beat of my own drum while the parent believes you should follow the step of the cadence being provided by life. We have never seen eye to eye on many things in which said parent always responds, “You are just different. You always have been and always will be.”

    Somewhere deep down inside, I believe each parent truly wants to see a small glimpse of themselves inside of their children whether it be something they say, mannerism, temperament, lifestyles, etc. I’m learning that we are all individuals charting this thing called life for ourselves and parents should be happy to know we are happy no matter what decisions we make or courses we chart.

    Great piece, Ms. Lucas!

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  • lol

    He’s OLD, why are you surprised? LOL!

    “my mother whose un-permed mane air-dries and waves, instead of kinks, curls, and fluffs. None of those explanations seemed to stick though.”

    You answered your own question.

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  • http://www.samechicdifferentday.com SameChicDifferentDay

    LOVE. THIS. POST. I’m rocking a “BAA” as I type, and am also convinced my father’s discomfort with my insistence on wearing my natural texture reveals his inability to accept that “I’m okay with me, relaxer-free.” As you write, it’s his problem, not mine. Great post.

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    • Kim

      My mom is the same way. With her it’s about hair length since I’m permed. If I cut my hair she freaks out and says it will either all fall out or not grow back though I’ve cut it off about 8 times and grown it all back (which only takes a year, mind you). It’s an insane obsession but it doesn’t stop there. And, I too, am VERY different from my very conservative mother, though I can be conservative as well, I’m very independent in my thinking and choices. She can’t stand either of things things about me. I just ignore her comments for now.

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