July 14, 2011

When You Were Relaxed….The Relaxer Series

When you were relaxed....what made you stay that way?

Back in the day, or maybe not so far back for some, what made you continue to relax your hair? Here are just a few I’ve heard:
·    Relaxers were all you knew
Many of us grew up getting our hair done sitting in between our mother’s legs warning us with a brush and a sharp tongue to “be still!” If you are like me, my mother slapped the “white stuff” in my hair from a box in the kitchen.  It was almost like a rite of passage if you will.  Once you were a certain age or once your mother deemed your kinks unmanageable – in comes the white stuff to save the day.  It’s not like you were given a vote.  I mean, really you didn’t know of anything else so there was no protest going on.  No chants of “relaxers are unfair!” 

 Everyone had one and if they didn’t, it was for one of two reasons:
1.       They had “good hair”
2.       They were “African booty scratchers” – sad and ignorant but this is how  brainwashed kids were back in the day!  To be fair, it wasn’t their fault.  Society and media painted such a negative picture of our culture, it was hard to not fall right in line with this way of thinking.
·    You thought only people with “good hair” could wear their hair natural
When I was growing up, hair fell into 2 categories:

1.       Good hair
2.       Nappy hair
Now what does that say?  These two categories were meant to be opposites, correct?  What’s the opposite of good?  Bad…hence the negative association with the word “nappy” that I’ve touched on before.   The hair typing system was nonexistent.
Now to be clear, if you were in category #1 – Good Hair, you were either “mixed” (I’m not crazy about this term either but I digress).  Oh and for sure you had Indian in your family.    
·    You thought it represented  a militant revolutionary group with a political agenda
Only those with afro picks and raised fists wore their hair natural.    

·    You were afraid to let go of the white stuff
How do you let go of something that has been such an integral part of your life?  When you depend on something like clockwork – every 6-8 weeks, it presents a real challenge when you are faced with having to do without it. 

·    Natural was not the look for you
Hair is a major part of our appearance and for women especially.  If you do not feel like a certain look is flattering to your face, it is understandable that you may prefer one style over another. 

·    You were afraid you wouldn’t be accepted
This means by peers, potential love interests, family, professionals in the work place, etc.  Acceptance is important to most people.  It is especially important to be accepted by those in your inner circle and if you feel as if you won’t have support in the journey, it can be a major deterrent.
What were/are your reasons for staying relaxed?


cassidybarrett said...

I just thought relaxed hair was the norm. I got my first relaxer when I was 3 or 4. My best friend didn't relax her hair until she was 12. I always wondered why she didn't relax her hair. I never teased anyone because they didn't relax their hair. I was just curious.To me there was no other alternative. I just believed natural hair was unmanageable. And when you see your mom, sisters and aunts relax, you never question yourself. You think it's how it's supposed to be.

Curly Chic said...

@cassidybarrett - Same here! I didn't get mine quite that young but I did relax my daughter's hair around 4 or 5. I kick myself over that still! But you are right - it was just the norm, never questioned it. Seems so crazy to me now looking back.