my hair, as told by greek mythology by Neda Dallal

a white girl complains to me that she’s frizzy in the humidity

i don’t tell her that until i see a halo of baby hairs surround her skull like she’s the virgin Mary herself, i don’t wanna hear a damn thing

 

if i were allowed to watch risqué tv as a kid i would have told you that i have 

elaine benes hair 

carrie bradshaw hair

instead i grew up on eerie myths, disturbing tales, stories with lopsided mores 

so okay then 

medusa was my inspiration 

curls of snakes that moved in an unending waltz across her scalp

nest of snakes that cast onlookers into hardened rock

i wonder why i hated myself back then

 

i used to think my hair was the least straight thing about me

 

used to glare at the mirror, willing the strands on my head to conform 

demanding normalcy of the crown of my head

believing trickle-down to be not just an economic mindset

but a psychological one

 

what i wish i knew then was that these locks are escape artists 

shapeshifting with every wash

breaking laws of physics and hair ties and spirits

infusing marvel into their inconsistency

inducing gleeful awe through their zigs and zags

their artistry and misbehavior 

 

now every strand gets parented like they’re my inner child 

healing from wounds so deep they still haven’t scabbed over

each piece a singularity, carving out its own space on my head

i give them room to twist into whatever version of themselves will exist 

without heat pressing away their personality

 

i reach up and find a strand that loops around my finger in adoring coils

another that feels like i’m rubbing my skin across a piece of twine

my hair might not turn you to stone

but i dare you to look anyway

 

Neda Dallal is a writer based in New York City. Her work often contains themes of pop culture, identity, migration, and belonging. In addition to writing, Neda helps bring other writers’ work to life in her day job as a marketer at Penguin Random House. In her spare time, she loves exploring New York, watching movies, painting her nails, and cultivating community.

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