Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation, and thought “is this conversation really taking place right now?”…. well I have.
It all started about one Monday during lunch with a few of my coworkers. We were all sitting in the break room chatting about the latest work gossip, and before I knew it the conversation somehow switched to hair and shampoo.
One of my white coworkers, Janette, casually mentioned that she feels disgusting if she goes more than 24 hours without washing her hair. I jokingly responded by saying, really? I sometimes go over a week, sometimes 2, without washing mine, and feel perfectly fine.
As a natural, I’m used to cowashing or shampooing every couple of days, or sometimes once a week, or longer. It’s always worked for me, and my hair doesn’t get very oily or dirty quickly, so I don’t choose to wash frequently.
Janette gave me the strangest look, and then a couple of other women did too. It was as if I said I go weeks without showering, or something crazy. Janette then went on to say how she can’t believe I can go that long.
I always knew that other races washed their hair way more frequently than blacks, so I guess I just assumed that they knew it too…. I was wrong.
After that day our break room conversations were awkward. My coworkers treated me as if I had leprosy or some incurable disease.
Later that week I saw Janette in the bathroom and basically gave her a crash course in black hair, well my hair in particular. I also let her know that just because my wash day frequency isn’t like hers, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me or that my hair is dirty.
Janette actually ended up apologizing and I guess she passed the memo along, because after that things were back to normal. I never volunteered anymore information about my hair, and my coworkers didn’t either. Hair was no longer a break room topic of discussion.