The first step to recovery is admitting your have a problem. I had a problem…with straightening my hair. The hardest I ever worked was probably on keeping my hair straight on a regular basis. It really was a problem but one that I only acknowledged after I went to college and a friend commented on it…and my RA. Yeah, my poor unsuspecting RA knocked on my door to see why there was smoke coming from under my door which was consequently why the hallway was looking a bit foggy. I assume she figured I’d be holding blunt but I was actually holding a flat iron and was in the midst of madly straightening my hair. Talie told me she could always tell when I was doing my hair because the hallway would be cloudy. I believed her, but I didn’t stop. And so the abuse continued until senior year of college when she took the brave step at beginning to go natural. Albeit, Talie did it accidentally but nobody in my immediate circle was without a creamy crack addiction so her decision was inspiring. As was my baby brother’s decision to lock his hair. The idea rolled around my brain until that fateful day when I took the time to read the back of a relaxer box. After seeing a laundry list of chemicals that I’d just as soon not have anywhere near my hair let alone my scalp and seeping into my brain with the potential to turn me into a zombie (which is a legitimate fear), I decided that was my absolute last relaxer.
Wanna hear the saddest part about this whole thing? I still couldn’t bring myself to stop straightening my hair until 4 or 5 months after the decision to stop relaxing. It doesn’t need to be said but my hair wasn’t in full agreement with my continued allegiance to my flatiron. It soon lodged a formal complaint by beginning to break off in strategic locations. Point taken.
After loads of experimentation with every hair product I could find in my house (and a few relatives homes), gorging myself on natural hair blogs and watching natural hair divas on Youtube (who are fabulous by the way), I came to the conclusion that straw sets and roller sets were my new best friends. Had to go to Product Junkies Anonymous eventually but I am proud to say that I have since recovered.
There’s no emotional and dramatic Big Chop episode in this story though. What can I say? I’m a big chicken and being bald or rocking a serious TWA just wasn’t in the stars right for me. That being said, the women who are out there rocking those styles, are my own personal heroes with more cajones than I will ever possess. My route was more gradual and every month or so, with another half inch of hair that grew, another half inch of relaxed ends met with a pair of sharp scissors and tumbled screaming into the sink. And every time another half inch left, the more excited I could feel myself getting.
Having been getting my hair relaxed since about age 13, memories of my actual texture were far and few between. What did it look like? Would I recognize it as the same from my childhood? Would I like it? Would it like me? It sounds strange, but my hair had been a complete stranger. In hindsight, living with my straight hair was like living with a crackhead that was constantly jonesing for a fix (ie. straightness) that you can’t ever remember seeing sober. Well I was about to see it. Then he setback occurred. Boredom crept back in and cutting more and more of my hair off became inevitable but there came an answer to this problem. Box. Braids. Did ’em meself too. They aren’t perfect but the get the job done. Now, as I approach the one year marker since my last relaxer, it’s hilarious how different my head looks in the mirror. It’s funny because even when my hair is at its biggest and most rebellious and doing exactly what I don’t want it to do, I still like it better than I did when it was straight. Dude, my hair came out of the closet and its real happy about it. For now, I nurse my baby ‘fro with love, oils, shun petrolatum, embrace its curls and absolutely cannot wait until it gets bigger and more obnoxious! Cheers, baby ‘fro.