At age 6 I first had chemicals applied to my hair in the form of a curly perm (Jerri curl), it was to make my hair easier to manage, loosen it out as I had the hair type that would just curl backup each time you combed it out. My hair was described as tight and coarse, meaning “of ordinary or inferior quality or value…. nappy in other words! I remember it was often a painful experience for me each time it was combed! I know many of my sister’s out there can relate to this.
This journey of having chemicals applied to my hair at an early age was the start of decades of going back and forth between a curly perm, relaxer, hair extensions and in my latter teens weaves. As a child I lost count of how many women’s legs I sat in between as they sectioned and pulled my hair as they put in hair extensions which took hours, hours of pain and my head feeling like it was on fire, this I was made to believe was the price a young black girl paid for beauty.
The message I was sent from an early age was that my natural hair was a problem, it was to be tamed, manipulated with or without the use of chemicals and was never to have its own natural expression and that straight or curly Indian looking hair was the way to go if I were considered to be beautiful and every girl wants to look beautiful right?
With my early experiences of pain associated with my hair in its natural state I never wanted to find myself in a position of having to deal with it, I mean natural hair, free flowing and unrestricted, I don’t think so. I mean how would I look after it? How would it look good and be socially acceptable? Someone had set an idea of what beauty was in this western society and I like many of you had been indoctrinated into a process of trying to fit in with this idea and by doing this rejecting my natural self and destroying my self-esteem.
Other implications of this experience and indeed process was grave as having chemicals applied to my hair was potentially harming my health, for info on relaxers and the effect on health click here http://blackdoctor.org/2825/do-relaxers-cause-fibroids/
In my early twenties I had a relaxed short crop hairstyle and my hair felt so brittle that I couldn’t stand touching it, it didn’t feel like hair, it was like dry straw no matter what I put in it, my scalp would flake like snow and itch like crazy. My hairdresser suggested I do a big chop and wear my hair ultra short, ummm that’s a radical idea I thought, but I pondered on it for a few weeks. My hair continued to break so I thought why not it’s got to be better than this.
So I went for the big chop and really liked my new style that was easy to maintain, now don’t get excited as I still was not ready to take on wearing my hair naturally so I was quick to apply a texturiser to get that coolie look!
From this I started to gel twist my hair as it started to grow and I had gotten bored of the regular visits to the barber shop for a trim, although some of the conversation in there was rather interesting to say the least!
As my gel twists grew I decided to locs my hair, why? Because it was a natural style and I wouldn’t have to apply chemicals or……wait for it COMB MY HAIR!! Great this is just what I needed….. a win win situation.
Jokes aside, it starts with our hair but this DIS-like of our hair leads to us disliking other parts of ourselves as black women whether it’s our skin-tone, eye colour, breast size or backside and these are just the external aspects have a look at this clip for insight into the emotional and mental aspects that stem from trying to meet a global accepted standard of beauty, these are some extreme examples but there’s a lot we can take from it.
This DIS-EASE negatively impacts us as black women on a global scale and the process of self-examination and healing has to begin to save us and our future generations from suffering from the same dis-ease of self-hate and rejection that a growing number of black women display trying to fit into an image that is other than our true self. Black is beautiful and this includes our natural hair.
I wore my hair in locs for 12 years from 2001 until l transitioned in November 2013 to free flowing natural hair now that I’m learning new ways of taking care of it (I’m loving combing and running my fingers through my hair!). Want to know why I decided to transition and how to take your locs out without chopping all your hair off? Check out my next blog and more at www.blacktomyroots.com
What’s your hair journey?
Do you like or loathe your natural hair?
Are you considering going natural?
Thank you for reading this post, please show you care and share it, peace to you and have a great day.