Ethiopian Music Habtamu Batte (Qeerroo)

Family Comments At Holiday Gatherings Made Me Believe Only Straight Hair Was Beautiful

I was (and still am) tender-headed, so having my hair done was always an uncomfortable experience. The thought of sitting in between my mom’s legs for the next several hours, while she meticulously brushed out, oiled, and braided my hair was akin to torture for me. Every time, I would start to fidget and fuss, with my body aching from sitting on the floor for so long, and inevitably, I’d end up in tears.

But while I dreaded our usual routine, my mom would sometimes switch things up and let my natural curls flow freely for the holidays, giving me styles like that quintessential ’90s side ponytail — and I loved it. I loved the way I could feel my hair bounce and move as I walked, I loved touching it, and I especially loved the size of my mane.

As a child, my natural hair reminded me of the iconic Diana Ross and her big, beautiful Afro she wore in the ’70s. I used to watch videos of her performances on TV with my parents, and I vividly remember being so in awe as she floated around the stage with her majestic mane in tow. She seemed so free and powerful — and I felt the same way when my hair was out in its natural state.

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