My mother used to say that there are certain topics that should be avoided at the dinner table- religion and politics were two of them. She thought such topics were propellants that would get tempers and discussions hot and flaming and since she wasn’t serving any sort of Flambé, there should be nothing hot and blazing there. The table thermostat was set at warm- to accommodate warm food, warm hearts and warm conversations. In my opinion, one more topic should be added to the list and it is “Hair”, particularly Black Hair.
Madam C.J. Walker may have been considered a heroine by many in the “Afro- Haired” community when she introduced the hot pressing comb the United States and the Western World. Some thought the average person could now hold a “beauty transformation tool” in the palm of their hand. Garret A. Morgan was held in even higher esteem in 1877 when he invented the first hair relaxer and Jheri Redding became a millionaire in the 1970’s,, when he introduced the Jheri Curl to the world.
Back then and even now, in some minds, the ‘kinky-coily’ texture is associated with slavery, poverty, coarseness, lack of refinement, sexuality, rebellion or some affiliation to some form of Apostolic Denomination.
In other minds, relaxed hair means, denying one’s African beauty, trying to be White/Caucasian, condemning the body to harsh chemicals for the sake of beauty, setting bad examples for children, expensive and the list goes on…
But if you are of African descent and have such concepts, your self concept and self esteem should be re evaluated.
But as Mommy said, these topics often start debates and not conversations and in debates, any point put forward can be rebutted.. So here are my 2 cents on the topic.
Until age 14, I had natural hair and I loved it. I never once felt unpopular, ugly or weird . People would always pass and say to me, “Likkle girl, what a way your hair nice!” and I would smile broadly, because that was probably the 5th compliment that day. I learned from that age that every hair was ‘nice and pretty’ once it was healthy and styled properly.
My mother had relaxed hair and I never once wanted it. To me, it was “big woman hairstyle”. My pony clips, ribbons and end clips were for school and bubbles and prettier clips were for church. When I saw children with relaxed hair, mommy said that not all parents had the patience, time and skill to deal with natural hair- it was a good answer and in my childish mind- I understood. When mommy ran out of patience, Miss Hellen, my hairdresser would wash my hair and give me “Chiney Bump Hairstyle” (bantu knots). My mother could not corn row and preteen and teenage years were a challenge, twist outs and an updos were her specialties. My hair has a personality pretty much like my own and would break after some persons combed it. My sister would give me some really beautiful cornrow styles. When work hours increased for both mommy and my sister, daddy took me to the salon to get a relaxer because I couldn’t manage it and unkempt ,damaged hair was not an option.
From then, until now , I have been getting relaxers and the choice is entirely mine. Until now, I have never once felt White and I am as cultured as they come, never once denying my strong Maroon and French/Cuban roots. Let’s face it, whether kinky, curly, straight, in a weave or under a wig, Black hair will be just that. The maintenance, products, texture, styling methods will never be the same as other ethnicities and we all need to let that permeate through our scalp, through our skulls and into our brains.
I am lazy when it comes to hair and relaxers offer manageability, as my hair takes 2 minutes to style on average. The salon washes and does the necessary stuff every two weeks and at six weeks – the chemicals go in. I moisturize and let the hair be and I won’t sit and get my scalp burned beyond repair- if it tingles, time to wash it out. Some may say, “That is expensive!” Well, I can’t manage it (whether relaxed or natural) so I let the pros handle it , because I will not be bothering anyone. Let’s face it, all the salons I have been to, natural hair care is way more expensive. Almost twice the amount I pay.
My Organic Root Simulator Moisturizer and my Kera Care Silken seal are all the product I use. The ‘Naturals’ I know have a basket of products and every week forums advertise new products and tell you to ditch your old ones. These forums tell me that hair oil and shampoo and conditioner aren’t enough and some go as far as to say they are all bad for your hair! My hair was healthy back then too and hair oil, shampoo and conditioner was all I needed. So tell me about expense and money making again! They say these products will facilitate Rapunzel length while we all know terminal length is real.
Then there is the discussion of damage, don’t get me started. I see relaxed chicks walking around with hair looking like Goku’s, red and dry from heat and UV damage and lack of moisture. I also see natural chicks with hair looking like Brillo pads, dry and damaged from heat and UV rays and if splits ends were currency, they would be millionaires! To me there is equal damage on both sides.
I follow blogs like Black Girl With Long Hair, Naptural85, Kinky, Curly Coily Me, The Hair Lover and Hair Honey because I like to see healthy hair, relaxed or natural, long or short and I follow these natural sites because I occasionally pick up kids and start taking care of their hair…. Because I am me 🙂
My favourite Blog is “Black Girl With Long Hair“, because it is very informative and features many success stories. In itself, it is a success story because on Facebook alone it has over 239 thousand followers…Not to mention their website traffic and other forms of social media. The site caters to persons with Natural Hair of African descent and most of these females claim to be lovers of Black Culture and all it stands for, liberation, Power etc and I’m all for that. However I am offended each time I read the comments; I am appalled by the degree of hate that people spew out. Someone may come to the site and tell of their experience and once the words “currently relaxed” appear, the dislike button becomes abused. The outpouring of hate towards fellow Sisters is disgraceful, just because the hairstyles are different.
We share the same skin colours, history, struggles, fight for freedom and liberation from societal discrimination… But it seems all of those go through the window.
Think about it… It’s Just Hair! Whether the cause of your decision is personal or influenced by any religious persuasion; To each her own, and let it not be cause for further division. The Black race epitomizes diversity, so different hairstyles shouldn’t lead to adversity.