January 23, 2007

Hair doesn't make the Indian

Healthwise:  'I am not my hair'What's odd is that no sooner do I hate my hair on a given day than someone of a different race, generally white, comes up to me and says, "You're so lucky to have naturally curly hair." They seem to really mean it. During one peculiar stage of regrowth when a spontaneous pompadour--the 1950s men's style where the hair is brushed forward and curled over the face--emerged, the latte-drinking, laptop-lugging hipsters of Portland eyed me with admiration.

I always wanted to tell them, it's an exceedingly expensive 'do. (Probably $60,000, the cost of my chemotherapy.)

The opposite happens in Indian circles, where people who don't know me or don't recognize me without my old hair take my curly hair as an indication that I'm not Indian. More than once since my hair started growing back just over a year ago, I've been given the Indians 101 lecture or--worse--been turned away as unrecognized by old acquaintances. It was even more hurtful during the long months in 2005 when I had no hair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope Ms. Briggs knows how much her columns about cancer have touched people. As a Native breast cancer patient (just lost my hair last month) - her stories have meant a lot to me and given me hope.