I’m black and as I remember, I have soft kinky hair – it was always getting messy “fly-away hair” they use to call it and my braids would usually have to be combed out before the week was done. I didn’t have any real feelings for my hair except for hair braiding time – every Sunday evening. That wasn’t fun for me. Between the hair pulling, tight braiding and the “head conks” (comb slaps in the head) if I couldn’t keep my head in the position needed. This was beyond suffering for a never still, easily excited girl as I was always craning to see the TV or some other activity just outside the periphery that a side braid would allow. Of course, I got many ‘head conks’ so it was no wonder that I use to yearn for the days when I could comb my hair and not suffer through the braiding.
I remember getting braids so tight that I would get tiny bumps along my hairline and had to tie the “tie-hed” or head scarf very gently before going to bed.
Other than then, I had no feelings about my hair. I was normal and most of my pairs had similar hair styles. Well, there is one other hair style that I remember actually liking – the twin ponytails, one on either side of my head that looked like what we use to call “cow horns”. I remember tying those two horns to the front or back and making a bow on my forehead or nape. My friends and I thought this was hilarious.
When I passed my primary school exams and got accepted to a traditional high school – a very prestigious event in every young Jamaican life, I was finally rewarded and got my hair relaxed on the day of my graduation. Hallelujah!
Henceforth, that was the end of my natural hair days and for the next 20 years until now I have been relaxing my hair, except for a brief foray into the Jheri-curl/ Leisure Curl trend. I had my hair at relatively the same length until I again did something drastic and got a hair cut when I graduated high school. It was the beginning of my transformation from teacher’s pet and nerd to hot girl. Everything was turning up Elo 🙂
For the next 2 years after I graduated and was in 6th form (still high school for us) I kept my hair pretty short – well trendy short – shaved back and sides. In college I went a little wild with the hair dye until I tried weaves. Then I wore weaves on and off for a few years and got some nice hair cuts in between.
Now for the part of men in all this. As you can see a black woman will go through many hair journeys in her life. There is so much we can do with the strands on our heads and our relationship with our hair will evolve into hate at one point or other. Yet, I never hated my hair until I discovered men. It’s true, it was their opinions that led me into weave – it was seen as desirable and guys did treat me differently when I wore it. I was a total sex pot to them then.
I had men turn their cars around, interrupt my meals at road side diners just to ask me out. True my cleavage had something to do with it too but I know that I got a little less attention when I wasn’t wearing my Rapunzel costume. The more I thought about this the more it bothered me. So concerned was I that I asked the guy I was seeing at the time to tell me how I looked best; with or without the weave. He said the weave. I dumped him and stopped wearing weave.
It was important that I be myself and the weave wasn’t me – I didn’t want guys to be with me just because I looked like some fantasy. I learnt my lesson after a string of failed short-term relationships.
Then I dated this younger guy who had a hair fetish. He liked my hair and delighted in being able to run his fingers through it as well as pull it during sex. I was kool with all that. He liked longer hair too so I didn’t cut my hair for a while. He didn’t ask me to but I liked the scalp massages and hair pulling so it was no bother. I dropped the guy but kept growing my hair.
Now for my bone of contention – I met a guy the other day who said to me “You would look better with your natural hair“. Yup, stabbed me right in the ego. I was a little offended. I didn’t ask but my thoughts were – Would I look better because my hair doesn’t look good now or would a natural hair style just fit my face better?
The statement bothered me – a lot. It’s not like I hadn’t ever thought about going natural, but the childhood braiding memories are a major deterrent. Locks are also a no go for me as I like combing and styling my hair to reflect my mood. Not to mention that I have spent years learning how to style my relaxed hair. I like my relaxed hair – it moves in the wind and I can easily run my fingers through it.
It’s also a natural response for me to resist the dubious suggestions of others but I can’t seem to get that statement out of my head. Would natural hair really suit me and suit me better too?
I hit Instagram and just wow – oh and the YouTube videos too. There are a lot of tips and tricks available and apparently the natural hair movement is really taking off – who knew? Guess I’m late to the party.
Hell, despite how I got the thought in my head, I now believe that maybe my natural hair would work for me – I remember getting a lot of compliments on my shorter hair styles and I think that I have the bone structure to carry off an afro.
I have decided to begin transitioning my hair as of today or at least try. I am a little scared – I’m gonna have to do the big chop pretty soon if I am really going down this road. Oh well here we go – if I hate it, hair grows and I can always go back to relaxed.