When I was a kid I always wanted an afro. I pictured myself with the perfect fro, looking like someone from soul train. Yep dancing cool and looking great with that fro and the obligatory Afro comb sticking out of my hair. But alas I was never gifted with such great hair. I used to get my hair plated and had piggy tails that I tore out on my way to school and tried to fro my hair…End result I had the worst hair in the world.
My hair is a mixture of curly, frizzy and straight. It just doesn’t want to do what I want it to do. I have years worth of horrible school photographs where I am the weird black kid with the bad hair. It usually looked like I had a landing strip on the top of my head.
The problem was as my hair grew the weight of it would make it drop and I never gave it a chance. I had a great hair cut in the 80’s I actually got an afro. It was short well cut and rounded and I learnt that as it grew if I put heaps of my mums hairspray on it I could have the afro I always dreamed of. Finally I had the look I wanted. Who cared that it didn’t fit under the school hat. I had reached what I wanted.
But then being a fickle teen I had to have a change so I went for what now days is a fohawk. I didn’t have a mowhawk I had the huge rise and the shave at the scalp. Think back to Grace Jones. I thought I was great. Shame I wasn’t 6t and skinny. So from that cut to the dreadlocks. I loved my dreadies. I could grow my hair, it let me have the weird hair slowly growing and I cut wind it and work it and let it grow. But the reality of the Dreadlock is that in that era it made it hard to get a job. Being Black was bad enough but one look at the hair and they assumed you were a yandy head as well.
So dreadlocks got the chop and I started to grow the hair again. I wore scarves and hats to hide it growing until I could work out what I wanted. I plated it like my mum used to that I hated to much. I just didn’t know what to do and you go to a hairdresser and talk and they had no idea on how to deal with “black hair”. Around this time the “wet look” was coming in. Lionel Richie had it. So everyone went running out to get it. so many people who had afro didn’t. People were doing home job with Glat. With glat everyone was straightening their hair. No more irons. Yes if you are young enough you wouldn’t know this. As a kid I used to have to iron my older cousins hair so that it was straight. That hair was smooth when they left home and when they came home on the last bus. It was half and half.
The things we do for our hair to make it better. Define Better? Isn’t what god gave you better? isn’t changing that fro along the lines of lightening your skin? Are you not totally embracing your blackness, curly, frizzy, waving, straight messy but totally natural hair.
But I finally learnt to love my hair when after much hunting went to a hairdresser, was told by a cousin I had to tell them I want a reverse perm. The hair dresser laughed and said “No you just need to stop brushing your hair” so after a hair cut she said never brush your hair unless you are tying it up, otherwise run your fingers or your afro comb through it when its wet and just leave it to dry. It worked I have done it for years and my hair loved it.
Having had no hair to now growing it I have taken a bit more notice of peoples hair. I have some family and friends who have full on fuzzy hair, and they spend a fortune straightening it. I know of women and teenagers spending big buck straightening it and buying straighteners. My daughters have their moments of wanting to spend a day straight. That is fun, as doing it for a special occasion. Some of our women are always up to date with the latest do and you wouldn’t know they really have an afro.
I know women who for the past twenty years have had their hair done so its a perfect curl, or a perfect quaff. They think nothing of it. It’s like the smokes or going out. It is just part of life.
For some of us we would be totally shocked as to how some people look with out all the product and chemicals in their hair. I at the moment am waiting to see what my hair will do, some bits seem to have tight curls and some bits are whispy. But I cannot who you to much of it yet.
this is what it is looking like now. As you can see I have a bit of an afro coming. You won’t see me out and about like this. as I have to have my head covered because of cultural reasons to do with my head having to be opened up.
But I will let you know how it goes