|“I can do all things….”|
My Natural Hair Story
The Early Years
I always knew I had curls, but I didn’t remember anything about them. The closest memory that I actually have of what they may have looked like was an old photo of me at a beach. Before that I had the normal braids and pony tails of a girl my age.
I had my first relaxer when I was eight years old. My grandmother was a beautician, and asked me if I wanted to get a perm. Growing up around all women that had straight hair, saying yes was a no-brainer for me. I screamed “yes!!”, and my hair was relaxed for the next decade. Deciding to lose your curls, is a right of passage. Its one of those things that are done, without thought or question. No one, ever questioned why having a relaxer was so necessary. And neither did I, until I was much older.
Signs of Trouble
My hair was very healthy for the first few years after my relaxer, when my mother took care of it. I don’t recall it breaking, or hearing her complain about hair loss. But that all changed when I graduated up to a hair salon. I went from the sole custody of my mothers care, to the random open chair at a Dominican salon. I went faithfully every two weeks, my hair was always “done”. But as I look back, it was the style that I cared about the most and not the health of my hair. Even as my hair deteriorated I didn’t notice, because my hair was “done”. One of the biggest things that I didn’t do then, was maintain the moisture of my hair. I recently found a picture from my junior high school years, that truly alarmed me. I had breakage all over my hair. I naturally have light brown hair, and you can see the dryness and damage from a mile away. And yet no one thought it was damaged.
Somehow my hair improved, and by high school the overall damage seemed to alleviate. The next obstacle I seemed to have was “mystery” uneven hair. The woman who “set” my hair, told me one side just grows longer then the other. I resolved to cutting both sides evenly, and always wished my hair would grow past my shoulders. Like many black girls, I believed my hair growth was somehow limited.
Trying Something Different
In school, I was friends with a girl whose hair grew past the middle of her back. I started asking questions, following her to the salon, and using similar products in my hair. One of the biggest differences in our hair care regimens, was that she took control of the products that put into her hair. She purchased special conditioners and treatments, while I just relied on the salons to ensure my hair was getting what it needed. She always deep conditioned after every wash, and that was something I never did. I followed her rules, I deep conditioned and paid more attention to the products that went into my hair.
The Ultimate Hair Struggle
My hair benefited health wise, but there was no real growth. I moved on up to a black hair salon, where one of my friends attended. I thought I would be investing in my hair, because it was more expensive and I thought they would know how to handle my hair. It was there that my hair turned into a complete nightmare. The woman that performed my relaxers, consistently burned me. I kept going back. (Side-note: she was actually included in the movie Good Hair!! Chris Rock, was discussing relaxers with her. She discussed how skilled she was, and I of course was mortified to say the least.) My hair began to have a weird static cling effect. It would literally stand up without actually touching, similar to a junior high school science project. There was nothing I could do to control my hair, and I had nearly given up.
Shortly after the static cling experience I went to my god-sister, a stylist, to figure out how to fix whatever was going wrong to my hair. I was furious when she told my I had a spot of hair missing from my scalp. The beautician had to know she gave me a bald spot, but she never said anything. I had a spot the size of a quarter dollar!!! I was so angry and there was nothing I could do. This changed my hair experience for ever.
I continued to relax my hair but used more care. I knew I wanted to stop, but I wasn’t sure how. From that point on I started researching, and discovered there were many women like me. I decided to leave my hair alone and just let it grow, which I later discovered was protective styling. It was from these experiences, that I really started focusing and learning about my natural curls. 2004 was the beginning of a new way of life.
This website was created for all women, especially those who have the ability to grow curly hair. I know so many of us have similar stories, and may just be starting to think about the curls we were born with. But we are all here together to share, support and uplift. Taking control of my hair really helped my to understand the choice and control I have over my life as a whole. It caused me to question my choices, and really helped me realize I truly can do anything I put my mind to.