White Guy Chronicles His Wife’s Natural Hair Journey

So now that you’ve met Alex and you all warm a fuzzy about him, here’s one more reason to bask in his fabulousness: he blogs about afros. He has a running column on The Coil Review, and here’s the entry that made natural girls all over fall in love with his story-telling:


Phase IV: An Afro Is Born

Alex Barnett, The Coil Review

One bright and shiny day, the princess (my girlfriend) awoke.

HER: “Baby, It’s time.”

ME: “Wait. You’re not pregnant…right? I mean, ‘cause like we didn’t really talk about that, and I—“
HER: “No, idiot, it’s time for the afro.” That’s a relief, I thought.

ME: “Wait, how do you know? It looks the same to me.”

HER: “I just know.” Smiling, as if to say, ‘If you were Black, you would understand.’

She then marched off to the hair salon to get her hair washed, blown-out and dried. I remained at home, nervous. What if it’s bad? I thought. What if she doesn’t like it? What if it doesn’t make her look like Pam Grier? What if she really looks like Dr. J or –worse yet– like Dwayne from What’s Happening? I am dead meat!

Several hours later, she returned home.

HER: “So?” There was a pause, as I studied her, taking it all in. “You hate it,” she said, frowning. I realized that the next words out of my mouth would likely determine the fate of our relationship – and, perhaps, whether I lived long enough to see my next birthday. I paused another second, collected myself, then I took a deep breath and said…

ME: “It’s awesome!”

HER: “Yeah, isn’t it!” She beamed. And, it was. It truly was. My beautiful girlfriend was the proud owner of a sexy, new, home-grown, home-tended, seriously kick-ass afro. “I love it,” she added.

“I love it, love it, love it. I’m so glad I did this. I feel so cool and so energized. Thank you for suggesting it. And, thank you for helping me go through everything to get here.”

ME: Don’t thank me, I thought. Thank Pam Grier (and, of course, the slamming, jamming, cool-as-a-cucumber Dr. J). But, I didn’t say that, of course. I’m not that dumb.

Seriously, I thought, she shouldn’t thank me. She was the one who did all the hard work. She was the one who challenged convention, who persevered through hours of curlers, who suffered through bouts of feeling unattractive, who dealt with the negativity of others (whether real or perceived). All I did was go along for the ride and provide the occasional kind word, or hand to hold, or shoulder to cry upon. No, I thought, thank you for trusting me enough to let me into your world and to go through this with you. Thank you for enabling me to learn more about who you are and who and where you come from. Thank you for not quitting on yourself or on me.

Now, in fairness, I have to reveal that the afro hasn’t been without some issues. As I have since learned, having an afro requires a research and knowledge of conditioners and other hair products. In addition, there is the tall, flat-hair syndrome first thing in the morning—a style that is part Don King, part Heat Miser and part Marge Simpson—about which I try very hard never to comment on. And, as cold weather arrived, there was perhaps the biggest challenge of all—finding a hat big enough and fashionable enough to cover the ever-increasing universe of coils atop her head. But, on balance, these have been trivial compared to the intermediate phases.

And, so, I can report, this woman—who decided to be bold, who decided to go for broke, who got rid of the hairstyle that her own mother had introduced her to—and me, we lived happily ever after…that is, until she started talking about getting married. (Just kidding, honey).

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