MY HAIR: THE TRAUMA, TORTURE, & ACCEPTANCE…I THINK WE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING

As far back as my existence goes, my hair has been a problem.  I hate dealing with it on any level besides wrapping it in a scarf or some other covering.  Let us begin with the list: curly perm, braids, perm, weave….afro.  Join me on my wicked tale of the unweaving of the weave.  This is my hair journey and how it has affected my life.

In retrospect, the curly perm can only be seen as a sign of the times.  It just vanished by the time the 90s rolled around.  I guess it came about to make the afro easier to comb.  I learned how to take white goop out of one bottle for washing and pink goop for conditioning.  When it became difficult, it was time to make an appointment in a chaotic environment but that is described in another post.  Eventually, the curly perm gave way to beautiful braids.

I love braids.  However, if I had a penny for the amount of hours that I have spent as my poor sensitive scalp has been subjected to the gripping and the tugging and the twisting…god, I am in pain thinking about it.  It was not long before the tired hands of the flea market girls gave way to the suggestion of a perm.  Ah yes, the flea market.  I am sure that many of you would like to chime in about that place, but we will leave that for a future class.  So, I tried the perm: bald spots, burning, aloe plants, flying objects that have been thrown, breakage, and that should be enough to give you a proper visual.

The perm made my hair very easy to handle.  Combs no longer broke and brushes stopped getting stuck.  Pieces could be added and decorated with ease for special events.  The day to day work that was required to maintain it was overwhelming for me.  I could not handle it.  I grew tired of the constant barrage of, “Please, God do something about your hair!”.  The appointments, the chemicals, the burning, the curling….I HATE THE DAMN DRYER!….this was before I discovered weave.

Weave gave me long hair which was a new experience for me.  It came in different textures and lengths and it was just a whole new expensive world.  I would often spend time just gazing at myself in the mirror.  In the meantime, my actual hair was suffering.  It responded by breaking and simply leaving me.  It was hard for me to take pride in something that was always giving me such headaches.

As I began to develop an interest in dance forms, new associates came into my life.  I was taught the wonders of Shea butter and rubbed it on my scalp for that natural glow.  Shells can be worn in my hair.  After returning to braids for a while, I was happy enough and went to the beach.  One of my natural queen mamas went with me, and we chatted the afternoon away while the waves kept us enthralled with nature.  I mentioned that I had to make an appointment (OH GOD) to perm my hair.  She asked me when I was going to tire of that nonsense.  My mind reflects on that question because it was strike one for me.

A salon was soon graced by my presence for new braids.  As I sat there and thought about whether or not I would get a perm, my ears soon heard the sound of my own voice: Why do I continue to subject myself to this?  Perhaps that is when the hair change began.  A West African dancer that also did locks suddenly appeared in my life, and I felt the need to consult her for advice.  She treated me like her little sister and gave me the knowledge that I needed: YOU NEED TO STOP WITH THE CHEMICALS! FOR REAL!  She went on to explain the pros and cons of natural hair and weave.  It was a kind and genuine exchange for which I am grateful.

I went back to the salon and told the hairdresser to chop it all off…most of it.  As I quickly escaped to my car, I sat inside and called a make-up artist.  My other assets were going to have to be enhanced because now, I had next to no hair and was feeling quite vulnerable.  For weeks, I hid under beautiful scarves and colorful wraps.  When I finally emerged from the safety of my security blankets, the world welcomed my transistion with open arms.  I had been my own obstacle.

People wanted to touch my afro.  Children would blush around me and tell me how pretty my hair was.  A coworker pulled me to the side and said this is the best your hair has ever looked, and I love it.  My mommy bought me nice earrings to compliment my new look. (I secretly think that she was just happy because now we had the same style but I do not want to talk about that…lol).  Slowly but surely, I grew into what I never knew before: MY OWN NATURAL HAIR.

It has been one hell of a journey with this tightly cropped hair of mine.  The bald spots and breakage that once existed are things of the past.  My head is covered with thick hair that I love admiring in the mirror because I can not believe that it is all mine; no receipt required.  I have learned that there were signs telling me that chemicals were not for me but because I did not recognize that, the lesson was taught until I finally got it.  People showed up in my life just as I needed the guidance and understanding of a healthy way that could work for me.   So, here I am.  Me and my hair.  I think that just maybe, we have reached an understanding.  I do not put chemicals in it, and it does not attempt to be my worst nightmare.