Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Hairstory

I'm obsessed with my hair. My hair, your hair, her hair. I'm obsessed with all of it. Over the past few years, I've been on a bit of a hair journey. I wanted to get to a place where I honestly love what's growing out of my head. It hasn't always been easy.

When I was a kid, I loved my hair. My mom would style my reddish brown hair in two afro puffs. I always got compliments on the color. So, I figured that must be special and what little girl doesn't want to have something special about her. As I got older, I tried to mold my curly kinky hair into a sleek wrapped bob. It didn't work. My hair would end up looking like a brown cottony beret slapped on my head. I hated it.

I thought I needed to go to a professional to get the look that my friends were able to get so easily. So, I tried every well known salon in my hometown. The first thing each wanted to do was slap a relaxer in my head, then charge me an arm and a leg.

"Ooh chile, your hair is nappy, when was your last touch up?"
"Last month."
"Well, it's time for you to get another one. Shelia, put her down for a super perm."

So, the stylist would perm my hair with the strongest relaxer she had available then 'trim' off all of my new growth. So, I'd leave with my hair actually shorter than when I walked in. Sure, the style was pretty, but where was my hair? Then, inevitably, within a few weeks, my hair would start to fall out. I had no idea what was happening. I was coerced into believing that I just had bad hair. It never 'acted right'. I began to feel like going to the salon was on the same level as a dentist appointment. It was the worst.

When I got older, I started reading more about taking care of my hair and I experimented with different techniques that would keep the hair on my head. I also learned that those super perms were way too strong for me, all I needed was a mild. I realized that I was fighting a losing battle by trying to wear those sleek straight styles. I have big hair and that's just that, why fight it. Now, I only wear my hair straight a few times a year just to see how much it's grown.

I've had many different reactions to my new hair. Some people love it and others ask me when I'm going to get a perm. The funniest reaction came from a security guard in my building. After complimenting me on my hair she said,

'You know, I've been thinking about going back to my jerri curl too.'

That really cracked me up. I might decide to relax it again next year or tomorrow, I don't know. But, I find myself attracted to people with big natural hair. I just want to reach out and touch it, on the subway, in the mall, everywhere. I also make it a point now to compliment women with natural hair. I think they get more criticism than admiration, especially women with a kinkier texture. I recognize that they are like salmon swimming upstream, when it comes to their hair choice. I appreciate that and it inspires me to care less about what others have to say about my 'fro.


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