Kinky Hair, Stronger Me Pt. 1

Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend?
I am not my hair.

But the truth is I am my hair.

I’ve always enjoyed India Arie’s song I Am Not My Hair. And oddly enough I was a strong believer in hair being hair and nothing else. In other words, hair has no impact on anything outside of aesthetic. However my belief in this has changed over the last three years.

Let’s begin nearer to the beginning.

In primary school I went through the torture of having my hair plait every week and looking like it had been done weeks before. In high school I began doing my own hair, and I was not that good at it. So I decided to straighten my hair for the easy way out.

Straightening my hair meant that I could pull it into one without much thought because it tangled much less than my naturally kinky hair. So I straightened my hair at fourteen. And life was…life? I pulled my hair back into one everyday for at least six years and simply put a band over it for the last two. I rarely straightened it on time, and straightening was rarely pain-free.

I arrive in my twenties, and I begin questioning everything about myself (and I still am): why I wear the clothes I do; why I’m dating; why I’m going to the movies, or out at all. And then the focus falls on my hair. In that internal discussion there were two important questions.

Why do I go through the torture of straightening my hair?

You’d probably think that dekinking one’s hair is as painless as shampooing. It’s not. Straighteners burn. In other words, if you a store-bought straightening cream is applied for too long it will burn your flesh, create a wound, an opening in your skin which will require time to heal, and it will hurt when you touch it directly, or as you fix your hair. The degree of pain depends on how great the burn is, which depends on how long the cream was left on the skin, and how strong the creams solution is.

You should note too that, according to the instructions accompanying these creams, the cream should never touch one’s skin. Think about that for a second or two… You are applying a cream to the very root of your hair but it should not touch your scalp. If you can manage that task do leave an extremely detail description of the process. Throngs of women worldwide would be pleased to unravel this secret. Nonetheless, we do it. I did it. I met my mother doing it, and I followed the pattern.

In trying to find an alternative, a store-bought alternative I asked other women who’d being straightening their hair and others hair for decades. The response was unanimous. There would always be pain, because there is no straightener on the market which does not burn. Of course, being me I asked the follow-up of: Why do it?

“Because beauty is pain”

Two years earlier I’d asked, and answered the question of why I wear clothing that was too tight. And in resolving that issue I’d remove the concept of beauty being something to be conformed to, or something which caused pain. So I set out to find something pain-free, a home-made alternative.

And I found it. Something perfect which didn’t burn me in the slightest or made me feel weak after the process. It didn’t straighten my hair as fully as the store-bought version, but it didn’t have to. And it was the first time that I realized that my hair never needed to be as straight as it was. In addition, it…my hair was so soft. I mean, extremely soft. Plus this DIY straightener is good enough…to eat. 😀 I am not joking. If you add a little sweetener, sugar or honey, you have the perfect pie filling. It’s so yummy. Once you read the ingredients list you’ll get the gist.

Coconut-Lime Hair Straightener

With this alternative in my pocket I decided to cut my hair, the section that had been previously straightened with the store-bought stuff. This was the last step in the journey of my decision. I’d had the thought of cutting my hair before, but I needed to be resolute and comfortable in the idea first. And I finally was. After cutting my hair I was left with about one or two inches of hair. Initially, the plan was to straighten my hair with the straightener monthly. But I never did it. I found that I could easily manage my short hair. So I decided to left it grow a bit first, before straightening it again.

I continued blow drying it however, or I intended to. One Sunday afternoon as I blow dried my hair after washing it I realized that the section which was straightened by the DIY straightener became hard as if threatening to break…my good hair. I wet the section of my hair with the moisturizing solution and that was that. I’d never put it together before that the blow dryer wasn’t just drying my hair but that it was also sucking all moisture from my hair. I immediately stop blow drying my hair. I have since found that plaiting my hair in large section after washing allows it to dry fairly quickly, and leaves the hair soft and less tangled as well.

Since I was never even the slightest skill with hair I had to learn a lot: don’t de-tangle hair when it’s dry; don’t de-tangle hair when it’s extremely wet; don’t de-tangle hair while shampooing; de-tangle hair from the end and work up to the root; all hair isn’t the same even if they are in the same hair category; a product which works for one person’s 4b hair may not do the same job, or anything at all for another person with 4b hair; hair needs patience; hair needs time; a product which didn’t work for hair at one time may work for it in the future; experimentation is part of the hair process; if you’re going to develop a relationship with your hair you’re going to be researching a lot; natural and home-made products have the best results on hair. (Well, that last one is more of a personal thing. I can always depend on a home-made anything working on my hair as promised by hair vloggers/bloggers. With the ready-made stuff it’s never that way for me…ever.)

A few months later, I had a fairly okay relationship with my hair. I knew that a (raw) coconut oil and water solution made my hair super soft and ready to be de-tangled, and that I needed a mildly scented olive oil so that the weird coconut smell didn’t linger. My hair was natural and manageable? This lead me to my second question.

Why was I straighten my hair?

I met my mother doing it, and I followed the pattern. I thought that straighter hair was easier to manage, but the truth is, it isn’t. Growing up I don’t remember natural hair being treated as we do straight hair. Natural hair is washed, conditioned, and greased regularly. Straight hair is washed, conditioned, treated, moisturizer, with leave-in lotion applied daily. In other words, straight hair is given more time and effort. Women put more time into straight hair, so the results are always better.

But…I was in love with my kinky hair, and I couldn’t stop touching it. And as I pushed my fingers through my dense curly hair I couldn’t help but remember the times I pushed my fingers through my straightened hair in search of the same curls, because truly I always loved the feels of my kinky hair between my fingers. Straight hair just wasn’t as…textured, and I like textured. And that was it. I made the decision to leave my hair in its natural and beautifully curly state.

Next week, I’ll tell you more about this journey as it relates to interaction with others and how they related to me because of this change.

Advertisements

One thought on “Kinky Hair, Stronger Me Pt. 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s