I have been having a love/hate relationship with my hair for the past few weeks. I have a reputation for changing my hair color as often as I change my mind. Craig often says he doesn’t know who he’s coming home to. In fact, one of the first things I did after dropping both M and C was reach for the box of Hydrience by Loreal — after the obligatory glass of wine or four of wine and large plate of sushi.
My hair. . .where to begin. I get it from my grandma. Apparently, back in the day, Gram was quite the femme fatale with her curly, reddish golden ‘fro. So along with her penchant for cooking, she passed onto me the Phillips family hair — the whole thing, the color, the curls, all of it.
The funny thing is, Gram always asks me, “When are you gonna fix your hair?,” to which I reply, “It’s not broken! It looks just like yours!”
I used to relax my hair, meaning, I would have some chemical relaxer slathered onto my roots to make it lay as straight flat as an Abercrombie and Fitch model’s stomach. Every 8 weeks, cause my hair is thick, I’d drop my $45+ and get that creamy crack smoothed onto my scalp. Then one day, after checking the ex-chequer, I determined it was time to cut it off. I rocked the TWA (teeny, weenie, Afro) for about 2 years. When the Hubs and I got married, the natural hair care machine was not nearly as robust as it is now. 14 years ago, the phrase Big Chop was not part of the vernacular. Infusium 23’s Leave-In conditioner and Sebastian’s Wet Gel were about the only products that allowed reasonable curl definition. The acceptance of natural hair was not very far reaching. My parents leaned on me considerably to “think of the wedding photos!” They were holding the check book, so I caved. Back to the creamy crack. It took two (2), TWO, applications of the relaxer to get my hair to lay flat. The force was strong with the curls! After the wedding, I did the straight thing for a while until I got tired of burning my hairline with the curling iron. I threw in some braids and went on my merry way. After that, I decided to cut off the braids and start over with the natural. So here we are.
What I love about my natural hair is that when it comes down to it, I don’t have to do anything. No appointments at a salon. No worrying if I’m going to “sweat out my perm” if I go to the gym. No worrying if my hair will keep because the forecast calls for about 78% humidity. Simply wash and go, on most days. The problem is that no matter what product I put in lately, my curls are rebelling. I’ve tried Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, Curl Junkie Curl Fuel, Mixed Chix Leave-in Conditioner, Tresemme Flawless Curl, Sebastien’s Wet Gel, Queen Helene Coconut Hair Milk. I’m about to just say “Screw it” and turn myself over to the stylist to be shackled back up to the relaxer — Affirm, Super Strength. Super. Strength. Did I mention super? Thanks, Gram!
What kills me is that every time I get the nerve to do make the appointment, without fail, I am bombarded with compliments about my hair. It’s as if my hair knows that I’m plotting against it, so it starts to behave, thereby eliciting comments from strangers. Each curl becomes highly moisturized, forms a perfect “S” shape, no sign of split ends, and the curl pattern is as precise as a corn field of concentric circles. And all I can think is, “Well crap, how come it didn’t look this good when I had to go to the Urban League Dinner/Smithfield Christmas party/casting/audition/go-see/actual job or some other function where I was trying to look good? So the cycle repeats. And as a little side note, I’ve got to get a grip on my own hair ’cause who knows what kinds of locks are going to sprout up from Mo and Co as they get older!
Today, I think only half of my hair got the message to act out. From the crown of my head to about a quarter of the way down, the Frizz Contingent is striking out threatening to overrun the lower quadrants of Semi-Respectable Looking Curls. There is a small hold-out of curls near the nape of my neck (also known as the kitchen) that have happily sucked down the curl hydrating goop I used this morning and have consented to fall into a nice tangle of bouncy spirals. The rest, oy! Naps, knots, kinks, coils, frizz, and fuzz. Par for the course with natural hair, I know, but instead of fighting it, I’m learning to work with it. The results change from day to day, but that’s all part of the journey.