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August 12, 2020

By Abeer Almahdi

I have kisha hair,

In Arabic that means frizzy, or big,
But what they really mean is ugly.

My hair takes up space.
It frames my face, and it doesn’t sit on my shoulders,
It floats.

My mother hates it.
She won’t outright say it,
But she detests every strand.

I ask her why none of my childhood photos have my natural hair,
She said that all she did was comb it.

I told her mama,
If you didn’t want my hair to fall this way,
You shouldn’t have married an Egyptian man.
She said I just didn’t know how to take care of myself.

Every day she begs me to let her style it,
To let her straighten it,
To let her comb it.

Every day she asks me,
“Can I curl it?”
I tell her it is already curly.

She says,
“Not your type of curly,
But the,
Silky, smooth, and heavy type of curly.”
You know, the pretty ones.

Every principal I had in elementary,
Every teacher,
Told me it was too unruly,
That i should just tie it back in a bun,
Or cut it.

I cut it, and dyed it,
And straightened it,
And I lost it.

And I realised that the only reason everyone hated my kisha hair was because,
It gave away that I was Egyptian.

Someone once told me,
That i’m lucky that my mother diluted me,
Which made me more palatable.

But I wasn’t all that lucky,
Because I got the hair.

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  • Abeer Almahdi

    Abeer Almahdi


    Abeer is an Egyptian-Syrian woman, born and raised in Kuwait. She currently lives in Montreal, where she attends McGill University. Abeer is also a poet, author and artist.

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