Mom insisted on doing my hair even though I was entering 9th grade. It was the yearbook I didn’t buy because I was embarrassed by the photograph. My braids were taut tight with Indian Amla oil binding each hair to another.
No hair out of place.
Inside, I felt like an outsider.
At school, people whispered the things I wanted to ignore—her nose is too big, she is too skinny, she isn’t cool.
“Who wears braids in the 9th grade?”
“Go back to India,” they said.
Mom didn’t realize my braids were uncool.
I didn’t know how to tell her.