Thinking About Our Hair

Hello All,

I’m posting today to get some thoughts off of my head about kinky/nappy/textured hair.  So I’m entering my 3rd week post big chop, I’m feeling more comfortable/proud of my hair everyday.  I’m also enjoying the freedom from styling: not having to worry that working out will cause my hair to sweat out, not having to check my hair and see if it’s out of place during the day, not having to spend much time on it during the week and finally people can focus on my face more now that my hair is out of the way.

Now that I’m learning about my natural hair texture it’s making me realize that I’ve had a lot of preconceived notions about my hair (and very sure a lot of Black women will recognize these ideas):

It is hard to find the right products for my hair – So many of the products branded for African American hair are not good for our hair as they contain chemicals that are harmful to our natural hair texture and only work marginally well on hair after it’s relaxed.  There are so many products made for curly hair that work just fine on our type of hair but because we’ve never tried to use them because we think “that only works on white people’s hair”.  Well it turns out that hair is just hair, now if you start changing the chemical structure of your hair and you eat junk food all the time I can’t say those “white” hair products are going to work on your hair because it’s so damaged.

I have thick coarse/rough hair– After using products that are made for curly hair, my hair is soft to the touch and getting curly/coily.  My hair is actually medium textured but it’s very dense, so while I can get a lot of volume from my hair I need to protect it because my strands aren’t that resistant. I wore my hair naturally until I was 14 and don’t remember having any distinguishable curl pattern and it was always dry.  Well my mom used grease (which was mostly petroleum jelly or mineral oil) in my hair and waited until it was dry to try to comb and brush it, no wonder it was so hard to manage. Consequently, she would only wash it every 2 weeks probably because she didn’t want to have to deal with it. It’s no wonder why I wanted a  perm.

My hair is so puffy, I wish it would lie down flat like everyone else’s hair after it gets relaxed – Yes my hair was puffy, my poor roots were trying to fight off the chemicals that’s why a little bit of sweat would have them trying to coil up again.  That’s why after I’d wash my hair or even just after a relaxer, my hair would stand up at the roots and I’d have to flat iron it after drying it to get it to lay down.  But why should my hair lay down? Why does my hair have to be straight? I can wear it curly, braided, twisted or straight if I choose.  My natural hair gives me so many more options. Why on earth did I use a chemical to straighten my hair and restrict my options?

My hair is thick and unmanageable and I hate to do it (style it) – I used to hate doing my hair, I’d have to: wash it several times due to crazy dandruff that wouldn’t go away; condition it; put in a leave in conditioner and  hair glosser and oil; blow dry my hair for over an hour to get it dry; flat iron my hair in sections for over an hour to get it flat and smooth and then curl my hair.  The style would look good but it would only last for one day unless I rolled it up in sections over night.  I held this idea in my head that relaxed hair was easier to manage and gave me more options, probably due my experiences as a child. I was never taught how to do cornrolls or twists or anything.  I knew how to braid but I wasn’t allowed to “mess in my hair” (I know a lot of you out there remember that!, I bet if I told a White girl that I wasn’t allowed to do my own hair or cut my own hair as child she would even know what to do with that! I can see the look of pure amazement right now!) so I never got a chance to be comfortable with my own hair and I was going to extreme lengths to make my hair look like something it wasn’t.

I am coming to the realization that all the things that our mothers and grandmothers taught us about what to use on our hair and how to do our hair were wrong *looking over my shoulder hoping that Mama Dear isn’t going to come out of no where and knock me up side my head*.

I can’t blame them, they were only doing what they were taught and what some clever person figured out that we could do to make white people accept us more.  Back in the days, White folks were cheating us out of money, land, jobs etc.  They were lynching us just for looking Black.

All of this stuff was adaptive, people were just trying to survive.  Even though things are better now and you can get fair treatment just being the way you were born (I said can get fair treatment, not necessarily meaning that you will get fair treatment) we still have those old mindsets.  It’s going to take us more that 30 years to get over 300 years of adaptive strategies.  But if any one can do it, we can.

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