“It’s better to be the one who smiled than the one who did not smile back”
May 16, 2016
RBG To Know: Dominique Broadway
July 1, 2016

You know that one time someone overstepped their boundaries by speaking about something they had no clue about. Often because they do not know the things they say can be hurtful, foolish, or both.

As a Real Brown Girl I am sure most of you have experienced some type of comment about your hair or perhaps the head wrap you use to cover your head. I know I have.

It was the day after wash day, I was rocking a wash-n-go and my hair was kinky, tight, and full life. You could definitely say I was feeling myself that day.

A customer who I previously had conversations with came in with his two sons, and of course I greeted them all with a warm welcome.

As we discussed what it was they wanted to order off the menu, the father stops and asks me, “Did you wash your hair today? It looks different…”

Since I didn’t want to or feel the need to break down natural hair 101.

I answer, “Yeah I did, why?”

You will never guess what this man answers with, he says, ”It looks like someone shocked you, It’s big!” He laughs and looks to his sons for some type of backup.

His sons knowing their father crossed the line but still finding it amusing, smile and half laugh.

He then says,”Mi esposa también tiene el pelo rizado. Cuando se despierta se ve de esa manera. Como si alguien la asustó en su sueño. Jajaja”

Translation: “My wife also has curly hair. When she wakes up it looks like that. Like someone scared her in her sleep.”

There was so much going through my mind, so much that I wanted to say but of course I kept the peace. To be honest I don’t even remember what I said to him, but I do remember how it made me feel.

I was embarrassed even though I knew I had no reason to be. I was mad and in disbelief that the man did not think twice about his comments.

Luscious curls and amazing volume, what more could a natural ask for?

After he paid and went to sit with his sons my coworker told me not to worry about his ignorant comments. She assured me that my hair was beautiful and that people like that just don’t know.

I told her it wasn’t the first time something like this happened and it wouldn’t be the last. I know my hair is beautiful, what I don’t know is why people feel so comfortable talking about other people they find different.

The first time a comment like that was made to my face was from a black woman while working at my previous place of employment. It surprised me more coming from the Black woman as she was much older than the Mexican man I mentioned earlier…

Although she was older she had not really seen black women be proud of their natural hair. Many women pressed or wore wigs while she was growing up in order to fit society’s standards.

The last thing anyone wants to hear is a comment about themselves in a place it is already hard to be in.

We as creative entrepreneurs have to do a lot to keep ourselves afloat. We live in a different world where freedom comes first, and our art represents exactly that.

Us and Freedom.

But it takes time for the light to shine. Most people don’t blow up off one poem or paint a single picture, and BAM! they are the hottest thing to hit the net.

Even though I enjoy working where I do, I refuse to find comfort in it. Therefore it is important I have peace at work. Peace at work means I have the strength to come home and pursue my goal in life, the things I want to be successful as.

So how do I take words like that and use them in a positive way?

I regroup myself after all my thoughts have bounced every which way. This means taking a few deep breaths and letting the situation go with each exhale.

If I can learn something from the experience then I ask myself, ”What was the lesson in this?”

Most importantly I don’t let the situation dwell inside of me. If it affected me to the point I carry it with me throughout my day. I will vent to a couple of close ones and or journal about it. I go to yoga, scream in a pillow, laugh or find whatever it is I need to do in order to release lingering emotions or thoughts.

When all’s said and done remember nothing in this world is worth bringing you down to the point you feel the need to compromise yourself in order to be something you are not.

When someone doesn’t agree with who you are, continue to push forward.

The world needs more people who inspire others to be themselves. Believe it or not each and every one of you has a story that will inspire someone to be their more authentic “self”.

To this day I have not seen this customer and although I have no ill feelings towards him, I do wish to explain to him what he said that day was not right.

What if he said that to a woman with less confidence? Would another woman been able to deal with it as well as I did or would she feel the need to change herself?

After reflecting on the situation I feel the right thing to do is to educate someone on their ignorance to the best of my knowledge. Without pressing my opinion on them. Let the truth be the truth sort of thing.

What would I say to the man?

“Mi cabello crece más cerca de Dios y el de tu esposa tambien. Buen día.”

Translation: “My hair grows closer to God. Your wife’s too. Have a good day.”

Ishia Lynette

obsessed with words. unfamiliar, rare, strange, and yet marvelous. a blank space, a missing part. wandering alone.

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