I was born powder white (that is what people said about me anyway) with curly hair in 1985. My hair was not like the texture I have today at 31 years of age. I had baby hair. That baby hair eventually transitioned to kinky hair. My kinky hair appeared to be dry and unmanageable.
I was such a chubby baby.
My mom would probably kill me if she knew that I shared this photo. My mom said that I was so chunky that she had to put powder in between my “rolls” to keep my skin from chafing. She shared with me a story about a lady in church who rubbed my neck roughly because it was red and irritated from the constant sweating and skin on skin rubbing that had caused my neck to be raw and sore. I can only imagine how my mom reacted to that lady. I mean…who does that to a cute little chubby baby?
My grandmother owned a salon and I would watch the styles they would do and absorb it like a sponge. The salon smelled of relaxer, hot combs, spritz and oil sheen.
I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get a relaxer. I wanted my hair to be pretty and sleek like those ladies in the salon. Their hair would fly in the wind and mine wouldn’t budge. Relaxed hair was beautiful to me. I began to hate my hair because I felt it wasn’t beautiful. It wouldn’t blow in the wind. I couldn’t ponytail it easily and have a sleek look. The relaxer was the IT of the times.
My mom had a good friend who asked her to relax her daughter’s hair for the first time. I sat there and watched the whole process and excitement built in me because I was watching this girl transform from what I perceived at the time as ugly to beautiful. My mindset was that natural hair was ugly. I was just a kid. I didn’t think her natural hair was beautiful at all. After all, I watched clients receive relaxers all day by my grandmother and mother in the salon. The reaction that people would get by receiving relaxers is what I wanted. It was the IT.
The girls’ hair turned out so beautiful. I begged my mom to relax my hair. She eventually did but I didn’t receive a relaxer every 6-8 weeks to keep my new growth straight. Because of this, I had to deal with two different textures. If I knew then what I know now I would have been just fine but I had no idea how to care for it. My hair began to fall out. I had terrible breakage but I was able to cover it by different hairstyles that I would do. I would cover my breakage by wearing ponytails and braids.
My “nappy” hair became a problem to me because I didn’t know what to do with it.
I grew up looking at my kinky hair like it was a problem. As an adult, at the first sign of kinky roots I would relax my hair. I was not about to deal with nappy hair by any means. That mindset is completely different now.
As a mother I encourage my daughters to embrace their hair. They see that I embrace mine with no complaints so they have accepted their hair as beautiful (because it is). As mothers, grandmothers, guardians, fathers, mentors etc., we can help children who have natural hair to accept their hair by not making it a “problem”. When we are styling their hair, be mindful of what you say to them about it. Tell them how beautiful their hair is. My daughters love to hear about how much their hair has grown. I take pictures and they are so excited when they look back at them. They enjoy it when I am putting DIY recipes on their hair because they can help me to mix it.
They love their hair and so do I!
My daughters rocking their afros.
It all starts when you are young.
Do you remember how you felt about your kinky hair as a child or teenager?
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