Don’t play in the sun and don’t get caught in the rain. If you’re a black girl, you are probably familiar with these two warnings. Playing in the sun would give you a tan and getting caught in the rain would jack up your hair. And who wants either one of those? But you’ve got to wonder how much little black girls miss out on because of the stigmas attached to both the sun and water and the lengths our mothers, grandmothers, and now, we ourselves, go through to avoid them both.
First, let me establish I’ve definitely been told both. My mom always told me if I stayed out too long in the sun I’d get black. I thought I was already black! Of course, she just meant darker, but you get my point. I was always much more concerned with getting caught in the rain than playing in the sun though. First, I hate to be hot, so the chances of me playing in the sun for too long are slim. But rain can catch you without warning. I remember when I came to D.C. to interview for the job I have now. I basically braved hurricane conditions and by the time I got to the office my hair was too done. What was I to do? All I could do was TRY to salvage the roller set. I was not happy about it though.
Recently, I’ve played in the sun and got caught in the rain … a lot. As I type this I’m still tan from being in Haiti for a week and just finished drying my rain water hair for like the hundredth time this week. So why as an adult am I okay with it? Well, I’m only semi-ok with it. I’d much rather not get rained on and have to fix my hair again, but since it is already curly and in a fro, I have no fear! It’s already “messed up” and curly the same way it would be if I got caught in the rain. So I can walk through the misty rain to my car sans umbrella or hood.
As for the sun-tinged skin, everyone points it out. I cannot tell you how many times in the past week I’ve been told that “you got some sun,” or “You got dark.” As if being dark is the epitome of being different.
So let’s be more open to playing in the sun and not think our world is falling apart if we get caught in the rain. Always be safe though and use sunscreen and protect your hair from all the elements, including rain, sun, and chlorine when you visit the pool.