Hair. Seems like something so inconsequential. You wash it, blow dry it, style it and go on with your life. For many black women, however, our hair is a whole different story. This is my hairstory.
My hair was relaxed, or permed when I was 9 or 10 years old. I was so happy to get rid of my naps(naps are extremely tight curls for those who don't know) I didn't know what to do with myself. I was relieved that I wasn't like the other girls in my class who weren't allowed to get perms, because they got picked on by the other kids, besides my hair was nice and straight, and long.
Over the years I noticed my hair thinning out and breaking off, and started picturing myself with one of those short afros I saw on TV. But I wasn't ready for anything that drastic as a teenager, I was too busy worrying about if boys thought I was cute. Maybe when I'm in college, I thought.
The summer after my second year of college, I found myself searching for something. I had broken up with a boyfriend of 2 years, and I was just looking, something was missing. At the same time, I was still going to the salon, getting my hair permed out every 4-6 weeks (my hair would re-nap in 2). For some reason my scalp became very sensitive that summer, and my scalp started getting burned badly with each touch up.
For those of you who don't know, the active ingredient in relaxers (used interchangebly with the term perms) is Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), which straightens the hair, but cannot be left on the skin for more than a few minutes before causing a chemical burn. It is common for black women who have perms to get these burns on our scalps, whether mild or severe, all in an attempt to have straight hair. I found myself saying, if I get burned one more time, I am never getting a perm again. Next time I got a perm, my hair was stuck to my scalp because of the open sores caused by the chemicals. I kept my word and cut off the permed remains of my hair. I wore a very short cut for the next 6 months, and then began letting my hair grow into what became a 6 inch long afro.
I have gotten more compliments on my hair since I went natural than I ever did when I had a perm. I think when you take yourself back to the basics, your natural beauty has no choice but to shine through. Even more important than the compliments I have received is the fact that I have found what it was what I was searching for: myself. There is nothing like seeing yourself for what and who you really are.
I have been wearing my hair natural for 4 years now, cut it short again, and I am now ready to take the step toward locking my hair. I am letting my afro have its last 'horrah' this week, letting it be wild and nappy as it wants to be.
I'm going to the loctician (hairstylist who specializes in dredlocks) next week...read the next issue coming in September for the continuation of my hairstory!
Tell us about your hairstory, or send questions and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For professional advice on caring for your naturally curly, kinky, or nappy hair, call Kinky Kreations at (215)276-2660 or visit www.kinkikreations.com.
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Kaya Casper is the editress of the all new Naturally You! Magazine, the only downloadable eMagazine dedicated to 100% natural hair!
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