02 July 2010

Happy Nappy

I'm changing my hair. This is a big deal.

Hair has been trouble for me for as long as I can remember. Actually no, just for as long as I've been around mostly white people. I was proud of my cornrows & beads as a little girl in Brooklyn. Braids were commonplace. I fit in and (aside from being younger than everyone else) never gave my hair a second thought. Then we moved to Pennsylvania. I wasn't just the "young" girl, I was the new girl. I was the black girl. My hair was different. I was in sixth grade when someone brought that to my attention.

He said it was "weird" that my hair didn't "move." He said it loudly so others could hear and agree, which they did. I had no defense. I mean my hair didn't "move." Until then, no one had indicated it was supposed to "move." I was even more different. But this was something I could fix. I got a relaxer.

I remember two women in a kitchen giving me my first relaxer. One or both were friends of my Aunt Ada. I remember the smell, and the burn and the excitement. In case you don't know, the burn means it's working. The longer one can withstand the burn, the straighter one's hair will be. I took my relaxer back to school, called out to the boy, and shook my head vigorously. My hair moved. He stared blankly. I reminded him of his comment and again showed my remedy of the situation. He didn't care. No one did. I was not applauded, or even better accepted because of the irreversible damage I had done to my hair. Sixth grade was just the beginning.

I somehow got on a cycle. I kept my hair relaxed until it was as dead and brittle as I could stand, and then I would wear braids. Once healthy, natural hair grew, I'd kill it with chemicals. I once invested a lot of time and money into getting dread locks. But that just became another step in the cycle. I took my braided, mostly-healthy hair to Fargo. I attempted to do then what I'm doing now. I paid the price of inexperience. I lost all my hair.

It grew back. I moved to Vegas ignoring lessons learned. I took a head full of healthy, natural hair and I allowed - even paid for - it to be to chopped short and relaxed. The results when I was 23 were the same as when I was 16, or 9. I couldn't (wouldn't?) take care of my hair. It was too time consuming. It required too much money and too much product. I left Vegas the same way I left Fargo: braided and frustrated.

Sometime along the way, my hair had it's fill. It hasn't grown as quickly as it has in the past. I readily admit I do a poor job giving it what it needs. I don't moisturize. I don't condition. I don't even get the ends trimmed. At least I didn't. I've decided to commit to the entity living (dying) atop my head. My reasons are not as noble as they could be. But the result is the same.

I spend nearly $2000 a year getting my hair braided. That includes transportation, hair and tips. It's an 8 hour excursion that generally leaves both my scalp and my tail bone in pain. It hurts my hair by pulling on (and eventually breaking) the hairs along my hairline. I've accepted that I have nappy hair. I realize I don't want it any other way. I'm determined to work with my girls, instead of trying to hide / kill them.

I've done my research. This too will have an initial investment. There are products I'm going to have to buy, like a satin bonnet and a cap dryer. I'll need to oil and condition constantly. I'll have to develop a "routine." But I've spent the day inside a hair salon designed for the curly. I've been asking questions about maintenance and proper care. I've been getting tips and I feel confident I can do this. Time will tell.

~ Courtesy of my VZW Pinkberry
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