For many people going to the hairdresser is a pretty enjoyable experience. It was never the case for me. I always dreaded getting my hair done. In my mind, trips to the hairdresser were synonymous with pain. And let’s be honest, when I say hairdresser, what I really mean is a trip to one of my mum’s acquaintances’ flat who happened to know how to do braids. So, forget about snazzy hair salons with comfortable chairs, instead I would spend hours sat on a living room floor getting my hair pulled in all directions. But on the bright side, seven hours later, I would end up with a head full of braids which would last me for months - no pain no gain, right?!
For years, I have learnt to cope with pain. It never crossed my mind that getting my hair done could be an enjoyable experience. As I was growing up, I was always told off for complaining or crying when my mum combed through my hair. After all, it was the same pain she had also endured for years. Back then, breaking the pain legacy seemed almost impossible, so I used to get my hair relaxed to make the whole experience more bearable. It also allowed me to fit in - so I thought - whenever I wore my hair out. However, in hindsight, I never really cared much for my hair, and didn’t really think it looked nice either. It was more of an inconvenience than anything else. When I turned 19, I swapped braids for weaves - which I thought made me look prettier - and allowed me to shorten my trips to the hair salons.
It’s only after one of my cousins went natural and told me how much she loved it that I considered trying something else with my hair. By that time, I was tired of spending silly money getting my weaves done. I was also feeling ready to discover what my natural hair texture looked like after over 20 years of neglecting my hair.
As I started discovering more about the natural hair community, I was amazed with what afro-textured hair could do. Because of my own experience, I had built this negative perception of natural hair so embarking on this new healthy hair journey has been a real eye opener for me. I started to better understand what worked for my hair, and how to care for it. But more importantly, I started to look forward to wash days and enjoyed looking after my hair.
I am currently transitioning and have been doing so since July 2017. I am not clear yet as to what I want to do next although I hope to “big chop” eventually. However, I have tried not to put too much pressure on myself and just enjoy the whole experience. Seeing so many black women embarking on healthy hair journey has encouraged me to keep going and made me excited to get to know my hair texture. My hope is that we all continue to educate ourselves about our hair so that one day we can finally break the pain legacy for the next generations to come.