African Hair…Nappy or Natural?

I had been wearing perms and weaves for about 15 years. When I first started using perms in my hair the chemicals would burn my scalp and leave it irritated and I also had bad headaches that lasted mainly all day every day. At the time I didn’t know it was from the perms, basically because I didn’t think anything of it. The more I used the perms, the less I had headaches, I guess after some time, my brain had gotten used to the chemicals and my head didn’t hurt anymore.

I started out in the entertainment industry wearing my natural hair with perm and curls, but after taking some modeling photos with a white girl beside me, I was singled out and told my photos would look better if I had more hair. The agency never used the photos although my photos were cute and I’m very photogenic. In the entertainment/media industry especially modeling and acting or anything that has to do with you in front of the camera/media, you’re expected to look a certain way; rather it’s your hair or your body. I admit I allowed white people to tell me that I should add weave to my head to give it more bounce and flow.

About 3 years ago I got tired of the perms and weave breaking my hair and thinning it out, so I decided to go all natural, no perms, no weave.(I actually thought about it two years ago, but never followed through with going natural). At first I wasn’t too sure if I could really manage my own hair, because it’s so thick and coarse. Then I thought I’m not white and I certainly wasn’t born with stringy hair, that thought motivated me to doing my natural hair, because I then realized who I was as a black woman. I start to wonder where all my insecurity about myself had come from, from the beginning. I then remembered my mother yelling, pulling my hair calling me nappy headed while she was hot combing my hair. I remembered other personal things that happened in my life as a child and a teenager that made me feel insecure about who I really am and at thinking that at that moment I said I was going to just go ahead and do me.

It took a month to get my hair the way I wanted it, but I constantly take the time to braid it every night, sometimes using “Murray’s beeswax” for my locks and” Dax Tree Tea Butter Pomade” for my scalp to keep my hair growing. I unbraid it every morning to wear my style. When I wash my hair I just repeat the same steps to get it back to the style I want. I figured if I could take the time to perm, weave and curl my hair, I certainly can take the time to do what I have to do to go natural. I found this way to be less expensive for me then buying fake hair and perms, and less time consuming because I don’t have to curl my hair everyday. I now realize that I love my hair and I don’t even want a perm or weave or a wig. I realized just how much damage I had been doing to myself and my hair by using perms and weave. I’m so glad I stop using it, because I’ve done research myself a year ago and found out just how damaging perms are to the human brain.

When I was in my twenties, my daughter was my mom,  while she was there, my mom took it upon herself to perm my daughter hair. I was so mad at her for doing that. I had worked hard to wash, grease and comb my daughter hair with no perms, and her hair was growing long and thick. Once my mother put perms in my daughter head, all her hair fell out and was as short as a snap of your finger. I realize now that our parents were never taught the truth and if they were, they didn’t heed to it. Then again you have to remember that back in slavery, who really started calling us nappy headed niggers and negros??? Who really made us feel bad about the way we look? There’s nothing wrong with our natural texture of our hair. Back in the 70’s black females rocked afros and they looked damn good doing it too. All in All I can say I am very happy that I have found myself and sporting my natural hair.

Here is a piece of article from wikipedia about African hair; I have also added the link below for those who love to read about our culture.

History – Continental Africa

Historically, afro-textured hairstyles were used to define status, or identity, in regards to age, ethnicity, wealth, social rank, marital status, religion, fertility, manhood, and even death. Hair was carefully groomed by those who understood the aesthetic standard as the social implications of hair grooming was a significant part of community life. Dense, thick, clean and neatly groomed hair was something highly admired and sought after.

Hair groomers possessed unique styling skills allowing them to create a variety of designs that met the local cultural standards. Hair worn in its loose state was not the norm, and usually left the impression that an individual was filthy, mentally unstable or in mourning.

Communities across the continent invented diverse ways of styling afro-textured hair. It was common practice for the head female of the household to groom her family’s hair, teaching her craft to her daughters. In some cases, an elder would facilitate the transfer of hair grooming skills seeing that many members of her family inherited and mastered the craft.

In many traditional cultures communal grooming was a social event where a woman could socialize and strengthen bonds between herself, other women and their families. Historically, hair braiding was not a paid trade, although it has evolved into a multi-million dollar business in places like the United States and Europe.

An individual’s hair groomer was usually someone whom they knew closely. Sessions included shampooing, oiling, combing, braiding, twisting adding accessories. For shampooing black soap was widely used in places like West and Central Africa. Additionally palm oil and palm kernel oil were also popularly used for oiling the scalp. Shea butter has also been traditionally used to moisturize and dress the hair with a yellow variety being popular in West Africa, and a white variety in East Africa. In North Africa Argan Oil was applied to the hair and/or scalp for protection against the arid environment and intense sun. Hair grooming of afro-textured hair was considered a very important, intimate, spiritual part of one’s overall wellness, and would last hours and, sometimes, days depending on the hair style and skill required. Diversity in, and experimentation with, afro-textured hair styles was the norm up until the European slave trade, and the height of the Arab Slave Trade, penetrated sub-Saharan Africa.


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