I love my Charlene but it took me a long time to get here.
A walk down memory lane….
Like most women, the desire for healthy long hair was in me from childhood. I remember growing up and being told by my playmates that I had “bad” hair, meaning, it was brown, kinky and hard to manage. The colour of my hair actually led me for a time to apply shoe polish on it.
My mother did her best to manage it, that meant threading or breading it once a month. I remember many an agonizing morning when she would comb it out, not only did i suffer untold pain from the rough combing process and being hit over the head with the comb if i gave too much trouble, I absolutely HATED the style she would comb it into, she would push it towards my face giving me a weird 80s style fro, I would always get teased by colourful ribbon puffed haired schoolmates. My hair was always dry and hard, making passing a comb through it bitter work.
I understand my mother though, her own hair was long, and relaxed. The only thing she knew to do with natural hair was wash it- with not so hair friendly products I might add- apply petroleum jelly(Vaseline) or on special days, Dax hair food, braid or thread it and then struggle to comb it while I raised hell. I looked forward to Christmas period when I’d get braid extensions and not have to pretend I had long hair down my back by wearing my skirt on my head.
Funny thing is, my mom always told me that i had beautiful, dark thick hair as a baby and I “lost” it as I grew. And as my friends started getting relaxers at around age 8-9, I begged my mom for a perm, she always insisted I was too young but finally gave in right before I turned 10. Actually, what I got was a tex-laxer- not leaving the relaxer long enough to fully straighten the hair- I can still remember the pride of having my hair go a little past my neck. Then came the breakage…
I have known from childhood that hair is a big source of pride to women and girls. I would bond with my mom as she washed, threaded or braided my hair. I’ve had a friend make make me cut all of it off in a fit of childhood jealousy. I went on a beans eating fest when my mom told me that me that beans can make your hair grow-because of the B complex vitamins- and being disappointed after months of stuffing my face with beans and seeing no progress with my hair, I chalked it down as a mean ploy to get me to eat beans, which I did not particularly like.
Where we are now….
Last month in September after months of diligent deep conditioning, co-washing, cleansing, protective styling, oil sealing and hot oil treating. I decided to mostly wear my hair out for the month, to give it a break and to also chill with it a bit before tucking it back up into another long term protective style. I wore it out in a fro, twist-outs, bantu knot-outs and flexi rod set. And because its still important to protective style, I wore styled 2 strand twist and flat twists for a few days and I love its brown colour now, though it isn’t as prominent as it was in childhood. Also, my mother cut off her long relaxed hair and went natural in July last year, says she got inspired by my journey and saw that I was seeing results. That was such a huge compliment as her’s and my late aunty’s flora’s hair would give me life in my childhood.
I now have people ask me what weave I’m wearing when I wear my hair in some sort of curl styling like a bantu knot-out. And I also get those who say the natural thing is only working for me cause I have “nice hair”. From our little walk down memory lane above you know that my hair is no different to most black people’s hair. Its kinky, it tangles, it can get dry but I stay on top of it, moisturizing constantly, hot oil treating,protective styling, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It really isn’t as much work as it seems, just find your routine and work with it.Above all, Love and enjoy your mane.
Till next time!