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I'm Too White to Have this Hair

I'm Too White to Have this Hair

A Story by Rita Radz

A short personal essay I wrote about hair and how it relates to race.


            Ever since I can remember I have been receiving unsolicited advice about my hair from strangers. And I’m sure my mother’s been hearing it even longer than that. My hair is big. I mean big big. And it always draws attention. Not that the people are mean, I just generally would rather not strike up a conversation about the different types of hair oils while I'm in line at the buffet. And it’s even worse when they don’t say anything, but just stare in confusion at my pale skin and big hair. So I don’t wear it down.

            I always wear my hair in a bun. Always, Every day. Maybe, if I’m feeling wild, a ponytail. On special occasions I wear my hair down with copious amounts of conditioners, gels, and oils to keep it tame. Or I crush the curls with the might of styling tools that reach temperatures upwards of 400 degrees.

            If you asked me, I’d tell you I love my curls. That’s because I do. Nothing makes me love myself more than prancing around my house with my mane of frizz wild and free. These times I spend hours looking at pictures online of girls with similar halos of curls. I search “natural hair” and “big beautiful curls” on Pinterest and Google and scroll through the results. Then I remember why I never wear my hair down.

            All these girls have dark skin. They have rich stories of their heritage and beautiful skin ranging from caramel to black that make their curls look even better. But me?

            I’m too white to have this hair. I have no culture to go with this frizz. No tia or auntie with the same ringlets. My favorite food is corned beef and cabbage, but I have to go to the “ethnic” section of the store for my hair products. When I buy a hair oil or conditioner that is clearly marketed toward black women I feel like I am somehow cheating. I feel the same way when I mark the “other” or “mixed” option on forms. Like someone’s going to question me. Call me out on trying to be something I’m not.

            But that’s the problem. My hair is frizzy. It’s dark. It’s curly. And I’m mixed. But I’m white. But my (step)dad’s Italian and my fiancee is Mexican. And when someone stops me in public and tells me that they think I should do something to hide my hair like straighten or relax it, I really want to tell them to shut up. And when someone stares at my loose curls and pale skin and asks me what I am, I’m going to tell them human. Because really, what else matters?

© 2013 Rita Radz

Author's Note

Rita Radz
I know race and how hair relates to race is a very complex subject. This is merely my own personal experience and feelings. Please comment with your own experiences so I can better understand the complexities of this subject for future writings.

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I have naturally frizzy hair. I completely understand the need to try and tame it, and although mine doesn't sound nearly as wild as yours it is a pain! I did enjoy the read, mainly through sympathetic eyes x

Posted 9 Years Ago

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1 Review
Added on December 29, 2013
Last Updated on December 29, 2013
Tags: Hair, Curls, White, I'm too white to have this hair, personal essay, frizz, short, race