I remember when I was little, I used to play with a towel on my head, pretending to have ‘straight hair’, swishing it back and forth – like in the Loreal adverts. I look back and think why? Why did I not play ‘Queen’ with the crown upon my own head?
I don’t think I actually hated my hair – I just didn’t know what to do with it. My mum always styled it, from single plaits to Ghana braids to African threading, she did it all. All I did was sit there and cry through the pain while she combed my 4c kinky hair. My mum did all the hard work instead of me, and this is why I think I ‘lost touch’ with my hair.
I wish my mum had the time to teach me how to style my hair. I wish I was more curious about my own hair. Instead, I was curious about another. When you grow up in a society which pre-dominantly values European hair, it’s so easy to end up doing the same – you value this only, and forget about the crown upon your head. I forgot aged 13-14.
I found out about hair relaxers after seeing my big sister chemically straighten her hair. I asked my mum to do the same with me, and she did. Three times in one year. The first time, my hair just came out much softer and shinier. The second time my curl pattern was much looser. By the third time? Well, I realised this was going to be the last time I ever put chemicals in my hair.
Straight. My hair was straight. I could swish it about. But, it was thin, flat and I had no volume. I didn’t like it. And to make matters worse, my hair soon began to ‘break’. I remember my heart skipping a beat when hearing my mum say “Your hair is breaking”. It literally felt like I was loosing a part of me. From this point onwards I remembered the value of afro hair. Or so I thought…
After declaring an end to my relaxing days my mum applied root stiumulator creams to my hair for however long it was. Lucky for me, I had only relaxed three times so my hair bounced back soon enough. I went back to braids after that. Then I went to college and my curiosity emerged again.
My mum braided my hair during my first year of college until she got tired and suggested I go to the hair salon. So I did. And what did I go and do? Weave. Now, I understand for some black women, weaves are a protective style, much like braids, but there are some of us who rely on it so much we wear it religiously, and we forget the value of the hair God gave us – because a lot of us choose a straight weave which emulates European hair.
I remember a girl at my college said she wanted her natural hair to grow, and this is why she wore weave. Some time later I asked if her hair had grown and she said yes, but she still continued to wear the weave. I realised that she had become too comfortable and lost interest in styling the new growth of her natural hair. The same thing happened to me. Straight weave, black and purple colours – yep I did that.
I wore weave from around the second half of my first year at college (2010) until my first year of Uni, 2011/2012. I only really gave my hair a 1-2 week rest in between the previous and next weave, because I was so eager to get it done. Big mistake.
It wasn’t until my second year that I decided to go back to braiding. Why? because braiding did very little damage. Just a little loss of hair. But with weave, my scalp was suffering from dryness and I could see a change in my hairline. Luckily , it didn’t look out of place as it didn’t recede so much, but it still concerned me. It was time to declare an end to the weave, for ever.
So, after ditching weave in 2012, I went back to braiding, . I experimented with different braiding styles and colours, and I left longer time periods for my hair to breathe.
Now, I don’t leave my hair out just to let it breathe, I WEAR my crown because I actually want to. I have re-discovered my afro love, and the best styles to protect and maintain it!