Photo cred: pierre_artista
I don’t even know where to start this story from, should it be: the middle, the beginning, the end? Have you ever tried or done something that you didn’t know was bad for you until later but somehow you continue to do it for awhile before you quit? If your answer is yes, then you feel my pain. If your answer is no, that’s okay just keep reading and hopefully, you will understand.
I remember my first relaxer being a, Just For Me Relaxer, but I don’t remember how old I was. I know I was quite young, I was so young that I didn’t know what to do with my hair. And the crazy thing about it is from the Youtube videos and articles that I’ve read about black women they don’t know why they got a relaxer either. It’s a tradition or a doctrine was passed down from mother to daughter that that’s what you did after a certain age. And to be truthful, that’s basically what it is.
My mother was a child in the 60’s, in her teenage years by the 70’s. And at that time there was such societal pressure for black women to fit in with the rest (the same can be said for today). I can say from experience that natural hair definitely makes you stand out. But during that time, they were told, “Your hair would look so much prettier if it was straight.”, “You look unkempt with your hair like that.” Words like these influenced some of them to blend in and that influence trickled down to later generations.
The problem with me was that my hair was chemically straightened, but it wasn’t necessarily being taken care of. I have to be honest, my mom is not a hairdresser and she didn’t know what to do with my hair. When an attempt was made, my hair ended up in a bun or ponytail smack dab in the middle of my head and that’s all she wrote. Soon, a friend of my mom started to braid my hair (and interestingly enough she still does my box braids to this day.)
Years went by and I got older, but unfortunately, I was still uneducated when it came to what my hair needed. During my early teenage years, I would go to the salon and get it done. But I had no clue about what upkeep my hair needed in-between visits. I look back now and I cringe ya’ll, I’m cringing. There was even a time I got blonde highlights and afterward I couldn’t figure out why my hair broke off. Let me tell you what took the cake, what do you get when you mix old microbraids, new growth, and a super relaxer. You get a straight-up disaster, that’s what you get!
In high school, I got micro braids, something I will never get again. I remember getting the micro braids done was a 9-hour process and I had two women working on my head at the same time. So I sat in a chair with very few breaks, acting like a human seesaw and at this time I was quite tender headed. I ended up leaving the braids in for too long, and another problem was that I didn’t know how to take them out properly. Add on the super relaxer and well my hair well out bad. I remember being in the shower watching my hair come out in clumps.
Would you yell at me if I told you that this wasn’t my relaxer finale? If you want to yell at me that’s okay, because this wasn’t the end. After the super relaxer fiasco, I went to the salon and got a haircut and continued on this destructive path. When I turned 20, my health changed a little bit, this caused me to start paying attention to what I eat and my daily activities. Around this same time, my sister went natural and she would always tell me about her progress. My sister is, in fact, my older sister, so she never asked if I wanted to go natural, she just told me to do it. That’s the type of relationship we have.
At first, I started to stretch the time in between my relaxers. Then I just stopped with the relaxers completely so I could transition from relaxed to natural. I’d been told to clip my hair a little each month. I had friends that had gone that route and they did it so they wouldn’t lose the length of their hair. So as their new growth grew out, they would cut off the relaxed straight hair. I was doing that for awhile and I just got impatient with the whole process. I’ve never been one to worry about that. I’ll get a pixie cut in a minute. So I gradually started cutting my hair during the period of a week. Then I finally went to a salon and got it completely cut off. So I transitioned for six months and I big chopped June 25, 2015.