I don’t know about you but my hair and I have a love/hate relationship. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt weird about my hair. I think my earliest memory of me feeling weird about my hair was in first grade when I saw this girl in my class who had long and curly hair. It was pretty and I knew my texture wasn’t the same so I felt really ugly. From a child either I wore braids (my godmother always put braids in my hair since she was a braiding specialist) or just in some old fashioned hairstyle.
I didn’t have a perm and didn’t get one until my senior year in high school. For people with curly or with tight coils, a perm for us is technically called a relaxer since it relaxes the curls in our hair and makes your hair super straight. It’s called a perm because it semi-permanently straightens your hair. Yes it is chemicals and it can be really damaging to your scalp but you know the saying, beauty is pain. And the pain was real! If you scratched your scalp at all on the day of or before you got your perm, it was awful! The burning and pain was excrutuating. You had to be extra careful to get it on the hair and nowhere else or you’ll end up with burns. Usually, we put a type of scalp protective (but most of the time it’s just some Vaseline) and you have to put it on the scalp and on your ears…basically anywhere where any perm cream can get on because when I tell you it burns…..it is as if your scalp is on fire! Again, beauty is pain. Oh and make sure you mix the activator in well with the perm (for at home perms…salon perms are already ready to use) because if not, your hair will fall out. This sounds pretty bad but anything for beauty, right? This reason is why a
lot of African American and Afro Latinas are going natural to embrace their natural curls.
I would watch all my school friends and classmates with their straight hair (the black girls mostly had perms while me and one other girl had natural hair). When you are natural, that means you do not have chemicals in your hair. For girls with kinky coils or curly hair texture who wants to have straighter hair or looser curls, we either get a perm (the kind to straighten your hair) or we get a texturizer. Or if you’re natural and you want straight hair, you can get a blow out or use the hot (straightening) comb which by the way I hated because it took hours and didn’t last like I wanted it to. To me (and I still believe this for me personally) straighter hair is better for me. I understand that more and more women are going natural but personally for me, I don’t like it…for me.
All the women in my family are natural. The only reason I got a perm was because I stayed the summer with my aunt and she wasn’t going to do my hair so I guess my grandma and her decided that I should start getting perms. I was so happy! I would now be like the other girls! I hated having my hair nappy as I was growing up. I just love straight hair! Every other week, I’d go to my next door neighbor’s salon that she had in her house and either get a deep conditioning treatment or a perm. I didn’t mind that, I was just happy to be finally getting perms. My hair was so long and so straight. Still to this day, I love straight hair.
Now to be honest, I’m not the greatest at keeping my hair neat and pretty. I’m growing my hair slowly but surely. I had to cut it because I had terrible split ends and breakage. When I was away at college, I was not sure on how to do my hair. I was so used to other people doing my hair for me that I never really learned. Even as a little girl growing up, most girls my age were learning how to do hair with their dolls. I instead spent my time reading and making books on the computer. I liked watching TV instead of learning to braid. I guess it never crossed my mind that I would have to one day do my hair by myself. My cousins suggested that I just wear my hair short since I hate having short hair and…it’s gonna be a no for me dawg.
When I moved to Orlando, I was really excited because I could or should I say I decided to start getting my hair pressed. You see, for most of the time while I was in Tallahassee, I got perms from my family. Well since I wasn’t speaking to them anymore, I had to find another way to wear my hair so I started to just wear wigs. I remember as a young girl when I’d see someone with a wig, I thought well…that it was embarrassing. Now? Omg wigs have come such a long way and it’s so normal because a lot of women wear them! I’m not sure if it’s because as we got older, we saw the value in them or if it was just the quality of them have improved. Anyway, as a way to do with not getting perms anymore, I wore wigs.
Now I am one to admit. I love perms (I believe I’ve mentioned that before). I hate being natural. There is a natural hair movement going on and I’m am not a happy rider on that movement. I love straight hair too much. However, perms have damaged my hair and scalp so for now, I’m natural (and hating every minute of it lol). I didn’t do the big chop (when you cut off all the permed hair and start from where your natural hair is). Rather, I grew it out and it took like a good two years to grow the perm out of my hair. Which was like perfect timing because once I got to Orlando, I had them cut my split ends (which was a lot hence why my hair was chin level when they cut it) and got a Dominican blowout. I love Dominican blowouts. I don’t know what they do exactly (or I don’t know what products they use) but it gets my hair super straight it does hurt and the salon gets very smoky but remember beauty is pain.
So this is where I am now. I don’t have a perm. Although I would much rather have one. My grandma doesn’t get it. She tells me all the time “all the girls are wearing their hair natural” and my reply to that (in my head of course) is “okay, and?” Just because natural is “in” doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I don’t like it lol. Can’t stand braids (on me) or fros (on me). Twist outs…none of that stuff. Just give me straight hair. I feel that I look best with straight hair (that is my opinion and I’m sticking to it).
I will say, the natural hair movement is incredible. To see other ethnicities embracing their natural hair fills me with pride. They’re owning it. It’s no longer pelo malo (bad hair in Spanish) but they are embracing their true curls. I’ve seen people who said that they are done conforming to e everyone else’s standards. One girl that I’m friends with on Facebook said that she was going to start rocking her natural curls and y’all, her curls are beautiful! Same with Karina, her natural curls are beautiful too. As long as I’ve known her she’s been natural. She likes it that way.
When I have kids though, I want it to be their choice. One thing I did like was that when I was younger, I was natural so I want my kids to have a choice when they get to high school. Simple as that. I feel like that’s a fair compromise lol.
What was your hair journey like? We’re you always comfortable with your hair?