As an African-American teenager with kinky hair, there are certain stages, hair stages if you will, that you go through.
The Perm Stage
Maybe the words of a friend who prattled on about getting a perm and swears that it’ll be good for your hair, I promise stayed in your mind, maybe it was obnoxious advertising promising silky locks that floated across your television screen, or maybe a relative gave you a perm when you were too small to protest and simply didn’t care anymore. Whatever the reason, your newly straightened hair more often than not became brittle and thin. Perhaps applying chemicals on your scalp wasn’t a good idea after all. After looking at the few slivers of hair left and debating to keep your thin locks, you eventually move on to…
The Transitioning Stage
Here is when you can make the fun decision of cutting away your hair, having a TWA (teeny-weeny afro for you newbies) and growing anew. Now in my case, I have a rather puggish face (hey, I’m only being honest) and have a silly emotional attachment over my hair. I always put up a fuss whenever it’s time for a trim, counting each strand and mourning after them as if they were the fallen warriors of some war.
Case point: The first time my mother announced it was time to trim my hair, my eight year old mind had the bright idea to take all the scissors in the cubby holes and hide them around the house. Naturally, my mother asked me skeptically why the scissors, every last one, mysteriously disappeared overnight. My reply was an innocent shrug I’d rehearsed the day before, followed by a casual “I don’t know”.
We went to a hair salon the following day, much to my chagrin.
I didn’t how much I could annoy a hair stylist within a 30 minute period, but I was determined to find out. The memories are a bit foggy, but at one point, turned around and asked her, with my prestige 3rd grade knowledge asked her, “Do you even know what your doing?”
I was wearing light-up sneakers back then, but I was a block of salt with a name.
For some reason, we were not invited back into the salon.
I can say with relief that my attitude has gone down immensely, but my hate of trimming hair has not. Even now, I annoy my mother and ask “Did you really have to cut so much?” My response was an eye-roll and an ever-suffering sigh.
The point is, cutting my hair was not an option, so waiting patiently for it to grow back was all that was left. Not all that fun, I can say, but as curly tufts grew back, so did my confidence.
The Comfortable Stage
The “I’m-sort-of-comfortable-with-my-hair-and-finally-gained-self-confidence” stage. De-tangling my hair in the morning has become a welcome addition to my morning schedule and I’m no longer embarrassed by wearing “natural”. This stage is the hardest to achieve, but the most worthwhile.