It's My Hair, I'll Wear It How I Want
As a child, I found myself in awe with all the different hairstyles in the world. I'd always go through my mom's yearbooks and laugh at the mullets, the afros, the high tops, and the ones that didn't even have names. What I have noticed is that a majority of African American women get either weaves, braids, or perms. Though I have only ever gotten a perm as a kid, I used to witness family members and friends religiously get their hair done in one of these three fashions. More often than not, it was the cause of severe damage to their natural hair which terrified me and discouraged me from ever getting such done to my own hair.
I was born with a full head of hair. When I was a little girl, I had fairly curly hair that reached just below my waistline when straightened. As I got older, my mother found that doing my hair herself had become the cause of the arthritic symptoms in her fingers. She cut it to about bra length which made it easier for her to style and manage. I didn't really mind as I was happy with any style that she would give me.
By the time I was twelve, I'd begun trying to style my hair on my own without knowing what I was doing. I damaged the mess out of it but it still stayed fairly long-around shoulder length. Due to my inability to do my hair on my own, I convinced my best friend's mother to give me a relaxer. On her own. In her kitchen. Needless to say, this wasn't the best idea. I'd listened to my mother warning me not to get the chemicals put into my hair but she also told me that I'd have to learn from my own decisions. Sure enough, my actions proved less than satisfactory. My hair became more damaged than it had ever been, it broke off to about neck length, and I ended up losing my natural curl pattern which devastated me. I never wore my hair naturally curly as a kid. It was always in twists, natural braids, "Minnie Mouse" buns/poofs, or straightened. That was my first time willingly getting a perm. My mother gave me another when I was fourteen though I did not want it due to what had happened before. And once again, since I was caring for my hair on my own, it remained damaged and unruly.
It was not until I was 16 that my hair began to regain its original health. I quit putting so much heat into it and I began to wear it naturally curly. I'd regained my natural curl pattern by the time I was 15. My hair has been slowly but surely getting healthier and longer since then. It is about shoulder length again but it is still damaged. Right now, the problem is my inability to afford the proper hair care products as well as the proper setting to effectively do my hair. My dorm is not the best place to blow dry or straighten hair as I have found that the steam will set off the fire alarm multiple times. (I set off the one in my room 4 times within a hour. And public safety had to come to my room each time to make sure my room wasn't on fire or I wasn't smoking something.) On top of that, there are absolutely NO black hair salons anywhere around. As for the products, I currently have a leave in conditioner, a de-tangle serum, and different shampoos and conditioners that are not exactly formulated to care for my texture of hair. Still, my habits are better. I don't put any straightening chemicals in my hair whatsoever and I only straighten my hair once a month. One straightening will usually last me about a week before it begins frizzing up. I wrap my hair every night though I sleep so wildly that I usually wake up without the scarf anyways.
My Natural Curl Pattern
Why I Don't Want a Weave or Braids
There was a point in time when getting weaves and braids were a part of black culture and black culture alone. Now, nearly everyone is getting them whether they are black, white, etc. Personally, I will possibly never get anything put in my head. For one, the idea of having another person's hair in my own grosses me out. Since there are two different materials to make weaves out of, I know I could easily get a synthetic one. However, from what I've seen those tend to be the ones that begin looking unruly very quickly. I've seen plenty of women walking around with weaves that should never have been in their hair to begin with. Some look matted, some expose tracks, and some looked even more damaged than their natural hair. Of course there are women out there who get high quality hair that looks flawless and nearly natural. And if I ever do decide to put hair into my head, that is most likely what I will get. But the fear of looking "ratchet" is stopping me. Plus, I have an obsession of washing my hair at least once a week.
As for braids, absolutely not. I like my edges. I do not want to be that girl that loses a braid and finds that her natural hair was still attached. Plus, the possibility of losing a braid in public terrifies me. Not only that, but I can not sit in one spot for an extended amount of time. If I have to sit in one spot for more than two hours, I can't do it. I'm a restless person. I hate road trips, classes that take over an hour, etc. My legs need to be moving at least every half hour. Braids do not take two hours. Braids, from what I've witnessed, can take up to 8 hours. They can take even longer if you are given a break to stretch your legs. That is not okay with me. Personally, I would lose my mind.
You Do You
Personally, I don't care what anyone else does to their hair. To each, their own. As I said before, there are plenty of women who pull off weaves and braids beautifully and know how to maintain and care for their hair so that they are able to. I am not one of those women. I sleep like an animal, I can barely afford good quality hair, and I do not have the patience to care for it how it needs to be cared for. But my natural hair, that is something I can manage well. Not to mention that I have fallen in love with my natural hair both when straightened and when curly. I don't need someone else's hair in my own. Mine is perfectly fine just the way it is.