I Love Hair!
Creating a unique hairstyle allows you to enhance your individual beauty and establish a personal style. It’s important for a woman to experiment with her hair, to know what styles look best with her hair type and face shape. For young girls, hair experimentation is a fun way to foster self acceptance and build confidence.
I’ve worn various hairstyles over the years and loved most of them, even my senior year high school mullet. I greatly appreciate my mother allowing me to experiment with my hair and fashion choices. As a small child, my grandmother used a detangling product called “Hair So New” in combination with her homemade bacon grease hairdressing to coax my long course hair into single braids on either side of my head. I was well loved by all the neighborhood dogs because my hair smelled like bacon. Anyway, it was fun skipping along swinging my braids from side to side on the way to school. The not so fun part was being chased home by mean girls threatening to cut off my braids. When I was 8 years old, my mother remarried and we left my grandmother’s home and this is when my hair styling odyssey began. I’d never washed or combed my own hair, Meemoe (my name for my grandmother) was my hair stylist from the age of 3 until we moved across town. Before then, we lived in Los Angeles, CA where my mother and sister tried to style my hair, but by all accounts; I typically ran away screaming.
My mother had her hair coiffured every other week and on occasion took me in for spiral curls. I was made responsible for washing and styling my own hair. Yes, mother made it clear that she did not do hair, something I never understood. My grandmother had taught me how to make a pony tail and braid my doll’s long straight hair, but the initial attempts at styling my wild locks produced a puffy crooked braid. My hairtastrophe evoked questions, comments and teasing from school mates, making it painfully clear that I needed a quick hair solution. My mother purchased a bag full of hair products for me, including a large bottle of Hair So New. I got better at taming my frizzy mass of hair, but I still needed help. It became “a thing” for me to get up every morning and subdue my wild mass into cute braids or wavy ponytails (that would eventually shrink into Afro puffs). I couldn’t imagine wearing it down without a trip to the salon.
My new best friend was a Jewish girl who wore a pixie cut with a duck tail at the nape of her neck. She was always well put together in her color coordinated “Danskin” outfits and that no fuss hairdo never failed. I decided that her hairstyle would also work for me, so I begged my mother for the care free cut. She refused to have my long course locks chopped and from there we discussed, debated and argued about it for nearly a year (yes, I had several wining and crying fits). I was so over fighting to braid my hair every weekday, that I simply brushed my wet hair into a ponytail, that magically transformed into a huge frizzy puff by day’s end. Thinking that I was getting back at my mother for this torture, I totally ignored my hair every weekend, unless instructed to comb it or taken to the salon. At the start of 4th grade my hair resembled a Brillo pad and during a visit to my grandmother’s house, she gasped at it’s state of neglect. Meemoe’s outburst did the trick, I finally got my long awaited pixie cut. I didn’t care that I looked boyish, as I could finally get back to the fun and excitement of being a kid, without all the fuss. I was now a well put together pixie girl with color coordinated Danskin outfits and matching shoes, my hairtastrophe solved!
Over time, my hair grew into a misshapen Afro and again I begged for a new hairstyle, this time a neat natural. My mother reluctantly took me to “Dickies Natural Den” on Fenkel Avenue, in Detroit. She asked the barber to cut my hair into a small natural, he gave me the once over and asked, “This your daughter?,” she answered curtly, “Yes!.” His question wasn’t so surprising, as my mother was dark skinned and I was high yellow with three different textures of bushy hair. He fingered my hair saying,”I can’t cut no natural in this hair.” My mother snapped, “Would you just cut the natural please,” so he skillfully sculpted a well shaped natural from my wavy, curly and straight mop of hair. Slowly working my hair into shape he asked, “Where she get this hair from?,” ignoring the question, she again snapped, “Please hurry up!” After most of my hair had hit the floor, I walked out of there with the most trans-formative hairstyle I would ever wear. My new Afro symbolized my Black is Beautiful, Say it Loud, I’m Black & I’m Proud phase. I was lil’ soul sista #1 wearing dashiki tops, tiki head necklaces and black power beads, while shouting Right On-Right On and brandishing my Black Power fist at every opportunity. I was a loud mouth Afro gangsta chick talkin’ smack and fightin’ boys. Later, my curly natural grew into a super large Angela Davis Afro that eventually flopped in the middle, so I strategically placed an Afro pick on one side. After several months of running around with a cheese cutter in my hair, my mother marched me over to her hairstylist demanding that he press (hot comb) my hair. Mr. Dwayne asserted,”I’m not pressing that hair!” offering a French perm (relaxer) instead, my mother was instantly delighted. This single act began my addiction to that creamy crack, lasting well into adulthood.
My first straight hairstyle was the Dorothy Hamill mushroom cut, that I later flipped into the Farrah Fawcett feathered look. The hair relaxer allowed me to become a pre-teen hair styling expert, along with the necessary hair care products and styling implements. My original styling equipment included a Gillette Supermax blow dryer with brush and comb attachments, a Clairol Crazy Curl steam heat curling iron, a Lady Sunbeam portable bonnet hair dryer, and plastic clip hair curlers. Later, my older sister gifted me a Clairol Kindness 20 hot roller set that came in handy during high school along with makeup, hot pants and platform shoes. Those super convenient hot rollers kept me cute well into my 20’s.
From middle school into my early college years, my mother had my hair done on a bi-weekly basis, allowing me to try a variety of cuts and styles. At 19, I angered her by getting braid extensions with beads and charms. Upon seeing me she exclaimed, “that god-damn Bo Derick!.” At 20, I rocked a modified Mohawk and several other trendy cuts. Later, I went natural with a mass of curly locks and deep waves and even added length with french refined deep wavy weave. From my late 20’s into my mid 30’s, I experimented with hair color. My first major dye job was a graduated multi color look with blonde highlights. Later, after my hair had grown very long I wore copper weave patterned highlights over chestnut brown color. I even tried being a redhead, something I was never totally comfortable with. Now, I wear my hair jet black, extra long and bone straight or in a wavy ponytail. Lately, I’ve been threatening to get a blue Mohawk, but for now a bit of fringe around my face will have to do.
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