Why can’t a top knot look good on me? Why can’t I have that floppy casual elegant puff on top of my head? It seems like ALL other women I see can just fling their hair magically to the top of their head, secure with a single hair band and look like a model on vacation. Sometimes they don’t even use anything to tie it up! Sometimes they just wind their hair around itself and, tada! Or maybe they pull a blade of grass out of the ground and use that. Or a sunbeam. Or their 20,000 likes on Insta. I don’t know what it is but I know I don’t got it.
When I put my hair on top of my head, no matter what, I end up looking like a terrified ballerina. Or a stressed out librarian. From the eighteen hundreds. And homeless. Fuzzy fly aways stick out everywhere and the phrase “hippie halo” is too nice of a description. So I try to not pull it so tightly, I wanna get that casual voluminous Gibson girl look with just a few tendrils gracefully framing my face. Okay, let’s make it super loose, how’s that? Aaaand I look like a trash bag. Like a bag of trash just plopped itself on the top of my head and maybe some old spaghetti is hanging out the sides. And if I try to pull it together a bit, well, then we’re back to the angry over-worked librarian. I catch a glimpse of this hairstyle and wonder, “Am I about to hit someone with a ruler? No no, I just tried to do a top knot.”
I just realized something. Women who have super curly kinky hair can’t do the top knot either. Not in the way I’m thinking of. I wonder if they harbor this same jealous rage. Maybe the secret is you just have to have perfectly straight hair for it to work. But women with super kinky curly hair get to have afros, my hair won’t do that either. And mind you, I ignorantly say “get to have” when I know nothing of the burden of taking care of this delicate hair type. These women also “get to have” perfect strangers run up and touch their hair WITHOUT EVEN ASKING. I was with my friend when this happened to her and she was so kind and understanding:
Annoying Basic: “OMG, girl your hair is GORGE. I just love it, I wish my hair was like that.” (pats afro as if it were a separate entity)
My Awesome Friend: “Oh thanks so much, you’re so sweet to say so.” (subtly moves away)
If someone touched my hair without asking, I would not have the control and kindness to say thank you. More likely, I would tear their face off their skull and amuse myself by making it into a hand puppet. I would not be understanding. I would probably yell. But women with afros are usually women of color as well. And women of color know when they yell in public they become “crazy black lady” or “fiery Latina.” And when reduced to a stereotype, they are no longer truly heard.
So, I think it’s maybe my job as a white woman to yell instead. Next time I’m with my friend and someone goes to pat her afro maybe I should say something like, “Get your goddamn hands off her hair bitch.” Or, “Ima rip your face off and turn it into a puppet.” Or maybe something less combative like, “OHMYFUCKINGGODDON’TTOUCH!!”
Sometimes (not always) they ask, “Can I touch it?” beforehand and my sweet friend always says yes even though it bothers her. She says people have gotten resentful when she politely declines. Unbelievable. But when they ask, maybe I can say, “No you can’t touch it, you freaky racist, leave her alone,” and let them spew their hurt feelings all over me. I don’t care if I’m labeled as a crazy white lady. I mean, look at my top knot. I get it.