The Birth of my Baby ‘Fro.

11 months old

11 months!!!

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.

Dear Tyra, Stoppit.

Warning. This is a rant. Nothing eloquent. Now we all know that Tyra’s completely over the top and dramatic but she has also been making moves for herself, especially where hair care is concerned. Her episode on hair involving black children, more specifically black little girls was sad but horribly truthful. It happens. However, early this evening my lovely roomie, T, shared with me a very troubling video. Naturalistas will understand and e’rebody else…well I’ll try to explain. In order to do this, I’ve drawn up a short list of things wrong with the single video that I saw that lasted all of one minute and about 40 seconds. One hundred minutes of video actually had me upset enough with Tyra and her minion to spawn an entire blog post. Brava, Tyra. Brava.

1.First of all, this lady that has told us she’s a “professional” has see-through edges. Like as in I can see her scalp through her hair. As a “professional”, I’d hope you’d know how to take care of your business before trying to give me tips on managing mine. No, miss lady. No.

2. Secondly, I’d like to be superduper mean and say that this lady either has a speech impediment that she’s trying really hard not to let show, or she’s reading off of cards. I understand that you want everyone to understand you so yo enunciate ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. However, you just come off as weird, unnatural and having some issues that require a class on public speaking. Tyra, you should have found a better spokeswoman.

3. What exactly was the production value? I mean, this lady is probably just in front of a sheet in Tyra’s house but you could at least have have made sure we knew it had 1000 thread count and was made of the finest Egyptian cotton. I think even Bin Laden’s videos had better scenery and a far better prop master. At least try to make us seem like you put some kind of effort into this instead of realizing at the last minute that you had another segment to do.

4. Personally, I wanted her to show us exactly what her hair would look like after using all of this madness on her hair. If you’re going to spew all this crap at me, at least provide me with a before and after shot just so I know that if my hair ends up looking like yours, I’ve clearly made a wrong turn on the road to fabulousness.

5. Nowhere, during my learning about styling natural hair have I seen any of the lovely women on Youtube use curling iron on their hair without a roller set or anything else less invasive. She makes it sound like this is safe for your hair…without a real heat protectant and is safe to do often. Maaaaybe she didn’t mean it that way, but it certainly didn’t seem like it.

And now for my biggest problem with this:
6. You want me to leave this curling iron on my hair for how long? 60 seconds? I’m pretty sure hair or any texture would at least begin to disintegrate. Even in my most extreme phase of flat ironing my hair, I did not leave it on there for an entire minute at a time and just wait for it to burn off. What hair stylist do you know that subscribes to such ideals and still manages to keep clientele with healthy heads of hair. No, it’s ok. I’ll wait. None? Didn’t think so.

I almost feel like someone gave this woman a wikipaedia page on how to handle natural hair. But not a good one. Like one of those pages written by complete morons.

Thus I have come to this conclusion: Tyra and Miss “professional” type lady, I’d like you both to sit down and shaddap! Leave natural hair to actual professionals and the absolutely fabulous women on Youtube. Please and thank you.

Note: In the middle of writing this post and trying to view the rest of the posted videos, they were made private. Funny eh? I’ll assume Tyra took a hint from the pissedthehelloffcannotbelieveshesinsultinguslikethistruthful comments made on her videos. Thanks Tyra. It’s appreciated but please, call somebody else for natural hair tips!

Scissor Happy

Yes, I’m a cutter….but not in the way that you think. You see dear friends, when I get bored with my coif, I’m prone to cutting it. Taking off inches when my hair reached just below my shoulders when relaxed was common place either because of split ends or simply because I wanted it cut. My dear roommate fussed many times about my frequent run-ins with scissors. The boredom issue is now compounded with the fact that there are still about 2 inches of relaxed ends attached to my coiled roots meaning caring for my hair has become a dubious task with my natural roots and relaxed ends unable to reach an agreement on which treatments they can both agree with. Scissors, please.

Might not sound like such a big problem until you consider how different these two beings really are. The Relaxed hair (we’ll call her Medusa for now) agrees with only the cholesterol treatments but natural hair (refer to her as Foxy Cleopatra) prefers oil on a daily basis and/or my special leave-in concoction inspired by KimmayTube consisting of Shea butter, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and handy olive oil. In fact, Medusa HATES the leave-in and gets crunchy when I use Eco-Styler Gel. Meh. In fact, this problem would have turned me into a product junkie if I weren’t so broke. Never thought I say this but, thanks unemployment.

The follicle discord has been making my curly ‘fros and Bantu twist outs literally crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. For food, this can be a lovely thing but not for my hair! Besides the tension between my Jekyll and Hyde textures, wearing nothing but curly ‘fros for the past three and a half months have me itching for the scissors. Even switching it up for the past three weeks with updos, experiments with Bantu knots (which have been causing serious knotting for some reason) and a flat twist in the front haven’t been able to keep me from gleefully snatching the scissors and chopping it all off! So okay, how do I hang onto the relaxed ends to keep some length while simultaneously keeping my hair presentable and keeping the temptation to cut my hair at bay? The answer was simple. Braid the biznaches up! Done deal. Medusa shall be spared for now. Now let’s see how long it takes for me to miss my curls. Vicious cycle, vicious I tell you!

Anybody else get scissor crazy or have issues with the dueling textures?

Lets not mince words. They fed me lies about hair as a child.

Being as how this is my blog and all, I feel there is a matter of contention that I would like to take the opportunity to address without being ridiculed for it. After deciding to cease my dealings with the “creamy crack”, I began to research and stumbled upon no less than two dozen natural hair blogs and websites…to begin with. Many testimonials go back to the beginning to talk about their hair journeys and who influenced them as children. In contemplating this same question, I discovered a wealth of resentment. As an impressionable child, my notions of what hair was capable of were heavily influenced by no less than four lying and deceitful entities. What were these entities you ask? Well let’s troll the list, shall we?

4. Comic book characters (Mainly Storm from X-Men): Not only did the female comic book characters have incredible and gravity defying locks, but so did some of the men! Not fair! So I sit there and try to figure out why my hair won’t flow crazily like Storm’s resulting in my obtaining a long white skirt, securing it to my head and pretending it was hair. Whoopi Goldberg had a t-shirt and I had a skirt. Sad, but incredibly true.

3. Christie Dolls: So remember that black friend that Barbie had? Yeah, that was Christie and in my mother’s vain efforts to feminize me, bought me several Christie dolls. Needless to say, they did not make me more girly. In fact, they only succeeded in making me into even more of a tomboy. Sorry Mom. However, a secondary side effect of these dolls was to confuse me even more about what my hair was supposed to look like. I was a light skinned little girl with thick, tightly coiled hair that, even with the repeated abuse of a hot comb, rebelled into an unruly cloud. My parents said they got me the Christie dolls because she looked the most like me when in fact, she looked the least like me. Light with coiled hair versus brown skinned Amazon with thick straight hair. Yeah sure. We look exactly alike. I mean, of course all Barbie derivatives are gross perversions of human anatomy but the hair??? In hind sight, even Beyonce does have a lace front to compete with the hair of those dolls, Barbie OR Christie! My hair never even remotely resembled that of those dolls on its “best” days. Even after my first relaxer, I went back to the dolls to compare and it wasn’t even close. I swear that doll laughed at me. It’s ok because I stuck one of them in the microwave once. Her hair was never the same again…

2. Beyonce: Fabulous as she may be, she lied. She freaking lied to me. Around 1999/2000ish, I was given my first mainstream CD that was all mine: “The Writing’s on the Wall” and I loved it. Once again, there was a side effect: I wanted to look like Beyonce…and her hair. Even later, throughout the scandal, replacement and reformation of Destiny’s Child, I loved Beyonce…and her hair. When she struck out on her own, I decided that hers was the look I wanted eventually. Then, the bombshell! The hair that I had been privy to was, in fact, hers only in the sense that she’d bought it and had a receipt. So the only way to have her hair is not to pray each night for long hair like I had been doing but to go to a store and buy it??? Beyonce was officially by first lesson in the deception that is fake hair. Don’t get me wrong, I find nothing wrong with braids or a good weave but she should have given a disclaimer that her hair was in fact, not hers. Just a little common courtesy was all I wanted.

And now for the grand finale!!! The biggest impact on my follicle delusions:
#1. Disney Princesses: Yeah, I said it. You may remember the Facebook bumper sticker a while ago that shared the same sentiment. As much as I love Ariel and Aurora, Pocahontas, and especially Jasmine, no human being on earth has hair like they do and no little black girl with curly, coiled hair was ever going to either. At least Snow White kept it reasonable with her little shoulder length helmet that was very 1920s in its styling and Belle had books on her brain instead of vanity. So, it’s understandable that she wouldn’t vetch to the animators about having longer locks. It’s probably why she was my favorite Disney princess too! She did lie about her hair! Those other heifers though? Filthy liars. Once again, parents should give their daughters disclaimers and warn them gently that “I love you baby so I won’t lie to you. Your hair will never look like hers.” I feel it would be much more humane that allowing a child to grow up to believe that she too can have unnaturally red hair like Ariel or the glorious crown of Jasmine’s hair. Don’t get me started on Jasmine though because she just makes me mad. From the hair, to the unnatural curves that she has (that I still want) to the huuuuge eyes, she’s probably the reason why so many people are plastic surgery addicts. Thanks a lot Jas…but I digress.

And there you have it. The childhood conditioning for screwy follicle perception. And the ringleader in all this madness: Walt freakin’ Disney!!!

**Reader beware. For the most part, I’m half serious about my post at most but even humor has some basis in reality.**