Throughout my childhood, my mom had no problem saying she couldn’t “do hair.” She would stick to braids or two-strand twists, but she was not known for creating amazing hairstyles. To this day, my mom wears her own hair pulled back into a bun 90% of the time, which is fine, but doesn’t allow people to see her hair’s natural, beautiful texture.
As a child, my hair was long and thick and I remember my mom really struggled with it. On picture days and for special events, we would get up at 5:00 a.m. to go through the entire process of washing, detangling, and styling. Most times my hair would be pretty cute, but sometimes waking up at the crack of dawn made no difference.
My hair continued to grow, and by the time I was in double digits, prostyle was a staple in our household! My mom would pile gel into my hair in an attempt to contain it; I remember friends would point out where the blobs of gel were, and I would go into the bathroom and use paper towels to blot my hair dry. In the summers I would go away to camp for a couple of weeks, and she would usually have a family member give me box braids so I wouldn’t be responsible for doing it myself. We had a hair routine that worked fairly well for both of us, and like most black girls, straight hairstyles were reserved only for holidays and special occasions. My mother would send me to one of aunts to have my hair
sizzled pressed and curled. Looking back, I think it’s interesting how little black girls learn early on that “pretty” hair is straight hair, or at least that’s what I believed. And straightening for my hair was largely a waste of time because it was super thick and we lived in Fog City, CA so my curls reverted by the next day!
For my elementary school graduation, my mom finally caved and let me get a perm. I was SO excited! I wanted my hair to be straight like all the girls in those “Just for Me” commercials! Once again, one of my aunts acted as a stylist and did her best to make my hair look pretty. I actually don’t remember the style as much as I remember how much straighter a relaxer made my hair than a pressing comb. My hair was easier to style, and stayed that way for more than a day, and it was something we quickly adopted as a new hair routine.
To be continued…