|Image from MadameNoir.com|
I got my first relaxer when I was 14. My younger sister and I had pestered our mother for what seemed like a lifetime. We were fed up of our frizzy, fluffy hair that didn't move and wouldn't sit down the way we wanted it to. Growing up in a predominantly white area there were no other young black girls we could relate to and it was the mid nineties when the likes of AAliyah (God rest her soul), with her gorgeous, side swept, long hair was the image ideal. Well she was mine.
After my first relaxer I was amazed at how silky and long my hair was. I was a bit disappointed at how limp it looked, and the burns on my scalp but that was OK, I could deal with that. I had no more fuzz.
17 years of relaxers every six to 12 weeks ensued,along with the no scratching the night before, the inevitable scratching because the relaxer was due and the subsequent burns and scabs as a result. When I look back I'm extremely sad that I put my scalp through so much trauma time and time again. I wasted so many hours, days and weeks, sitting in hairdressing salons wasting my whole Saturday, wasting my money on sub-standard services. Every time I went to a different salon they would have something completely different to tell me about my hair and what products to use; not too much oil because your hair is fine, no products with water, because it will dry your hair out, no this, no that and blah, blah, blah..
All of this information felt so invaluable at the time, but the day after a re-touch, my hair would be wrecked if I didn't wrap it properly or tie it up at night and despite all the recommended products I brought, my scalp would still flake like crazy, my ends would turn an awful, over processed shade of brown, and don't even get me started on the recommendations to dye my hair jet black to hide the off brown tinge. My scalp would be stained midnight blue for weeks. Not a good look. It was frustrating and annoying. How could you spend so much for the outcome to be so mediocre? It seemed the more I got my hair done, the worst it would be.
After each of my pregnancies my hair would shed like mad and I would be left with two bald patches on each side of my hair line. The only thing I could do was to cut it all off and start again, rocking a cute Halle Berry signature crop. This would be great, until the style started to grow out and I would have to relax more often due to rapid growth when it was short. As a result my hair would revert back to the over processed mess it once was. It was a vicious circle.
Now I am deep into my transition to natural hair and it began for a number of reasons.
I feel free and empowered and unique.