Pick It Out

Most black people know what the term "good hair" means. If you haven't encountered this phrase, you're lucky or live in a very homogenous community. Good hair is not typical black or African hair. It usually is some combination of fine, soft, shiny, long and naturally straight or wavey. I might be missing some elements, but you get the gist. 
I'm sure there is a similar term amongst Asians and Latinos. Any group with tendency towards coarse hair will have at least a few, if not many, amongst them who yearn to have their hair look and feel different. Some would say those people want white hair, but that shows a lack of awareness of the hair of many Native Americans and Middle Eastern people.
I was raised by very, um, practical people. To them, hair covers your head, helps keep you warm in the winter, prevents sunburn in the summer and should either be short and out of the way or long and pulled back (again, out of the way). Having "good hair" meant nothing to them. My mom, who has very fine, bone-straight hair, thought keeping my big, bouncy curls functional was a challenge and a novelty. Solution: home haircuts for 11 years that only varied in how perfectly round they turned out. Result: for most of my elementary school years, strangers told me I was a very cute boy.
My dad, in the 70s, had a mid-length afro and carried a black power pick. Every time I'd get in his car, he'd turn to me and say, "What's going on here?" -- talking to my hair. Before I could protest, he'd attack me with the power pick, mercilessly torturing my tender head and turning my individual curls into a single, bouncy halo of dark brown fluff. In the summer it was hot. In the winter, I couldn't fit a hat over it. Year round, people thought I was a cute boy.
When I was about to enter junior high, I got my first professional cut. Of course, living in Minnesota in the '80s, I chose a Prince/Sheila E-style cut with long curly bangs and the sides and back cropped short. Parents: aghast. Me: happiest mixed kid on the block!
But the parents left their mark. To this day, I rarely do the things that would take advantage of how my genetic pool influenced my hair. I wear my loose curls in a ponytail more times than not. I am too aesthetically lazy to blow it out straight more than three times a year. I've had it an inch long twice in my life and only grown it out to the middle of my back once. It was hot and boring to comb. But I have to admit, no one ever thought I was a boy.

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