Since my last post was about my skin care regime, I decided the next two posts will be about hurr. Curly hurr for that matter. (OK, I promise I will stop typing hurr.) My hate-hate relationship with my hair stems back to my youth, no my childhood for that matter. I never liked my hair. In fact, I loathed it. You see, as a child I had many Barbies. I loved my Barbies. I had the house, the trailer, and Ken with the plastic hair painted on his scalp. I wanted my hair to be as beautiful as Malibu Barbie’s hair. Long and straight. Trouble was, Malibu Barbie was (and probably still is) Caucasian and I am black. So to compensate for my lack of long, Caucasian hair strands, I just put a towel or my mom’s nylons on my head, pretending it was long, straight and flowing hair like Barbie’s hair. I was a jealous little beast. I was jealous of my friend’s Suzy and Susan’s hair. (yes, I did have friends named Suzy and Susan. This was the 80’s) They too had hair like my Barbie’s, except they were brunettes. I used to envy when Susan and Suzy combed their long locks, looking like shiny dark crowns on their heads. When I combed my hair, it looked like cotton balls that had been pulled apart. Why was I cursed with this hair, I wondered.
Me as an infant. Rough and tough with my Afro puff (and Pablum.) Long before I gave my hair a second thought. Even at seven months, mom said it was thick.
I really started to dislike my hair around age eight. My poor mom could not always handle my hair. My aunt Nelly, mom’s big sister, however was a pro at “hair handling.” Aunt Nelly would come over to our house with not one, but two combs. One narrow tooth, and the other large-toothed. I had to sit between Aunt Nelly’s knees on a pillow, and she would yank my hair, de-tangling until I felt as though my head would snap off my neck. Crying? You better not, or that comb would be stinging your arm with a warning tap. Next would come out the big jar of green hair grease. She would rub that grease into my hair until it was shiny and pressed. My sister Francine would watch the torture in terror, knowing it was her turn next. My braids were so tight that my eyes had a new home on my temples. However, aunt Nelly had her own family, and she could not always come over to comb my hair. My mom had six other children to care for and a full-time job. De-tangling my wild, thick hair, washing it and styling it could seriously be a two-hour job when it was shoulder length. (ain’t nobody got time for dat!) So she took me to my dad’s barber and he cut it all off. Why I went to Gustavo’s Barber Shop is beyond me. I guess it was inexpensive and he was a friend of my dad’s who probably gave us a deal. As I said, I come from a big family where pennies were sometimes hard to come by. Anyhow, Gustavo, in his yellow wife-beater tank top (that was supposed to be white) “gif dis little gal a nice, nice, bootiful haircut.” In fact, he gave me a cut that looked like this guy’s:
For a while I was mistaken for a boy, even when I was in a dress at times. I still remember some kids laughing at me in K-Mart and I began to really hate my hair.
Fast forward to my early teen years. I was brushing my hair one-hundred times per night, still hoping and praying that this would make it straight. When my friends in grade eight were getting cute Madonna “Like a Virgin” blunt cuts to tie a fluorescent bow in, I wanted that look too. My eldest sister Karen, who by this time was working as a hair stylist told me, “no,” when I begged her to give me a Madonna blunt cut. Karen explained that because my hair was curly it would not look like Madonna’s, but would instead take on a mushroom type shape. I begged, pleaded, begged and harassed until Karen finally gave in. “Okay, I’ll do it,” she said, “but you won’t like it. You’ll be sorry.” Did I listen to her professional words of wisdom? Of course not, and she cut it. How did it turn out? Like a curly mushroom. Picture most of my 80’s look. A curly mushroom hairstyle with a fluorescent CHOOSE LIFE T-shirt and acid wash jeans. Don’t let me get started on the time I begged her to give me curly bangs. I wish I had a picture because seeing is
laughing, I mean, believing. In my late teens, the 90’s, I discovered the mighty hair relaxer. Every two months I would go to Miss Gloria’s salon for a good old-fashioned gossip, a look through her array of National Enquirers and a eighty-five dollar chemical relaxer. Practically my entire check from my part-time job. I loved my newly straight hair. Finally, I was the black Malibu Barbie. But alas, the chemical relaxer was not all it promised to be……
Join me tomorrow as I tell you how I finally stopped fighting with my hair type and learned to care for it without chemicals, love and embrace it.