Saturday, April 02, 2011

My Hair

I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair.  I had long hair, well somewhat long, until I was 11 years old.  Up until my 11th year, my hair rested nicely about 2 inches below my shoulder blade.  Then, when we moved to Spain and it was time for us to go to the salon on the Air Force base, the stylist cut my hair to just about chin level.  It was shorter than I had ever had it and at first I really liked it, but as years went on and my hair just never returned to its original length, I began to not like having "medium" length hair.

Now, I have done all kinds of things to my hair as well, as far as styling is concerned.  My mother found my hair difficult to deal with in its "natural" state, so she started getting it relaxed.  Chemical relaxers are very popular among African-Americans and my mother was told that it would make my hair more manageable so I started having relaxers done.  I don't know how old I was, but I do remember going to see the stylist my grandmother went to in Madera.  Miss Kelly, I think her name was, and she had 2 daughters who were teenagers and helped out at her salon.  I remember that there was this soda machine that dispensed sodas in glass bottles and the bottle cap opener was in the machine.  I always got a strawberry soda out of there, usually my mom or one of my Aunts would buy it for me and I was always really excited for that.  Miss Kelly would make me sit on a stack of phone books and, when my hair was dry, she'd always style it the same as one of her daughters, cause I thought her daughters were oh so pretty.

When I was in 6th grade, I decided to have a Jerry Curl done.  I don't think I spelled that correctly, but I don't know if that really matters.  Anyway, if you've seen Eddie Murphy's movie, Coming to America, you may remember the Soul Glo hair products that his rival, played by Eriq LaSalle, sold.  Well, the hairstyle that used the Soul Glo products is a Jerry Curl.  Yeah, I had my own wet looking curly hairstyle that I put rather smelly (in a bad way) products on to make it look wet.  I had that hairstyle for 2 years and then when we moved back to US and before 8th grade started, I went back to the chemical relaxer and I've been doing those ever since.

So, here we are all these years later and my relationship with my hair hasn't really changed.  I continue to get chemical relaxers (which, by the way, if you've seen Chris Rock's documentary, Good Hair, well there are definitely pros and cons to getting a relaxer done but ultimately, I think it needs to be a decision that is made by the mother in regards to her daughters, fathers truly have no idea how the relationship between women and their hair works, so while I respect that Mr. Rock does not want his daughters putting something on their hair that can eat through a soda can, well, until he has the kind of relationship with his hair that women have with theirs, he truly will never understand why we do what we do to our hair).  There are other options, in regards to what I do to my hair.  I could get a weave or braids.  I could chop it all off and go natural.  Or, I could choose to continue having relaxers done.  I'm just not the type of person who can sit in a chair for 8+ hours getting braids put in and I'm not really sure about the weave aspect either.  A weave (and braids) would make my hair longer, absolutely, but there are pros and cons to them as well.

So, my relationship with my hair.  Stress started turning my black hairs to white when I was 26.  It was a strand here and a strand there, not a whole lot.  There was a time when I could actually count all of the white hairs on my head and tell people exactly how many I had, but now I have more than I can count.  I have a lot at my front temples.  I think they look nice and make me seem wise (now whether I really am wise is up for debate at this time).  When my father died, I started having major breakage.  I was combing out a lot of hair.  More than usual, actually.  We all lose hair on a daily basis, but it's just a couple or few strands, not enough to really make a person freak out or worry.  Well, after dad died, I got a lot more white hairs and I started combing out clumps of hair, from all over my head.  My stylist suggested I start using these hair/nail/skin pills to help rejuvenate and strengthen the hair follicles.  I am not sure if it did anything for my hair but I will say that I've noticed that my nails are a lot stronger than they were before I started the supplements.  So, hmm.  I did notice that my hair wasn't falling out quite as much and that there weren't as many hairs in my comb, so I thought "yay, my hair is no longer grieving".  It made sense, to me.  After 5 months of grief counseling, I felt better and was able to talk about my father's passing without getting choked up or crying, so I thought my hair was also at that acceptance stage.

I think I was wrong.  I had a hair appointment this past Friday and well, my hair was still grieving or stressed or feeding off the negativity that stress generates cause it was breaking off, a lot.  I had a lot of damage, a lot of areas where the hair had broken off and frayed.  So, I had to get my hair trimmed, more like cut.  It's in significantly shorter sections.  I have never had my hair cut like this before.  I have to kind of comb it out with my fingers to make it volume-y.  I need to get used to that.  I bought this hair-goop-molder-stuff, something I know absolutely nothing about and have never used before, but I got it to try to help me fluff up my short lengths and help with styling.  I am about to learn about hair products that I've never actually seen used in the real world.  I put hair/scalp cream on my hair and scalp after I wash it, I put a nighttime moisturizer on my hair before wrapping it in a silk scarf at bedtime.  I put a lightweight hair oil made out of macadamia nuts (or the Tui tree or avocado or any other moisturizing type of oil recommended for African-American hair) on a daily basis to keep it moisturized and soft and frizz free.  In a dry climate, like Colorado's, African-American hair needs some extra TLC to keep it from drying out and becoming damaged, especially if it's in in a natural state (it takes work to maintain an Afro or locks, they need to be moisturized, same with the relaxed, weaved and braided/rowed).

So, I'm not sure about it being this length.  I am worried.  I am concerned that I'm not going to be able to style it properly.  I'm worried that it makes me look too hip or not hip enough.  I'm worried that halfway through the day it will drop down and go completely flat (which is why I bought that goop-volume-styling product thing).  It does look kind of cool though and I do kind of look more my age, I think.  I bought these really cute hairpins to decorate my style, since I don't think I'll be wearing headbands with this style.  They are cute hairpins and in different colors, cause I need to be able to accessorize.  Right now I sound so freaking girly!  Oh well, they are cute and I am not at all ashamed of how girly they make me sound.  With the way it is cut though, I think I'm going to have to curl it everyday, rather than having a day where it just goes without styling.  It doesn't look quite as nice flat and unstyled/uncurled.  My boyfriend said he's getting used to it and thinks it's cute.  My mom didn't really say much, other than noticing that it was shorter.  My sister didn't say anything, but that's in her nature.

I'm not usually a vain person, and I never really thought my hair was my greatest feature or anything, but now that it's shorter, I miss what was cut off.  It just doesn't seem like me anymore, it's like I'm a different person now or something.  I mean, I know I'm not, I'm still Tara, but it just makes me feel like I am different with shorter hair.  It's not as short as it could possibly go, definitely not as short as Halle Berry, but it's shorter than what I'm used to.  So, it will take some time and some practice and I'm sure I'll get used to it and figure out how to use that styling product stuff that helps make curls more voluminous.

Well, here's to trying new things!  Cheers to you all!
~T
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