Columns

Millennial special: Ask me about my hair

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Steven Depolo/ Flickr

Lauren Cherry
   Copy Editor

This is a story about my experience with natural hair. The term ‘natural hair’ refers to the hair of of someone of African descent that has not been chemically straightened by relaxers, keratin treatments,etc.

I stopped getting relaxers almost two years ago. I cannot give an exact date of when I stopped getting relaxers because I did not do so on purpose.

It didn’t appear to be a huge life-moment, but instead happened by accident.I was preparing to dye my hair blue and I knew it desperately needed to be cut, especially if I was going to bleach it at home.

I usually style and dye my hair at home, but I decided to leave the scissors to the experts.

At the time, my hair was short — somewhere in between a bob and a pixie. I had had short hair for the past five years.

I had gotten my hair relaxed about twice a year at home so, while I had some idea of what my curls looked like, I always wore my hair straightened.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been transitioning — the journey from chemically straightened hair back to the natural hair texture — for quite some time.

The hair stylist who cut my hair that day said, “Oh, you have lovely curls. I’m just going to go ahead and get rid of these straight ends for you.” I didn’t protest because I had been toying with the idea of having less quality time with my blow dryer and flat iron every week. “Okay, thanks,” I responded. I dyed my hair blue-violet the next day and rocked my bold, blue curls proudly to work. To my surprise, it was met with approval from my manager.

I had no context for how natural hair would be perceived in the workplace, as this was my first real job; from what I read online, it didn’t seem to be particularly embraced in a work environment.

It’s worth mentioning that I may have neglected the fact that I worked in women’s clothing boutique, and not a corporate office, the latter of which I’m guessing has stricter requirements on professional appearance.

My mother has relaxed and healthy hair. My little sister went natural around the same time that I did. She had been telling my mom that she needed a haircut and it kept getting put off.

So my sister found some scissors — whether or not they were hair scissors is unknown to me — and chopped off her straight strands.

My mother loves seeing her daughters’ natural hair texture and even says that she wishes she would have left our hair chemical free as children.

I honestly can’t blame her for relaxing our hair as children because had I been a mother during that time, I likely would have tried anything to tame my Diana Ross-level mane.

Back then, there just weren’t the resources, products and platforms available for those that wanted to wear their natural hair.

The natural hair movement isn’t anything new except for the fact that mainstream media is finally acknowledging its existence as being beautiful.

There was, of course, the surge of natural hair as a representation of black pride during the Black Power movement in the 1960s-1970s.

Growing up, it was social expectation for mothers to straighten their daughter’s hair — either chemically or with heat — and cut their son’s hair short.

An influx of hair products and salons catering to natural hair textures didn’t come around until the late ’90s, early 2000’s; even today, these salons and skilled stylists are hard to find depending upon the geographical location.

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