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Why is hair so painful? The story of my love and hate relationship with my hair.

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Hair has been a hot topic for so long. The length, the color, the texture, the style, and most importantly in recent online opinionated debates, what "professional" hair should look like. I remember my very first hair memory, sitting in my mother's kitchen and the steam of the hot straighten comb hitting the back of my neck and just knowing I was going to die. There were so many times my mother burned my scalp but one time reminds me of the pain of hair. The hot comb had slipped from my mother's greasy fingers and hit my forehead, permanently burning a hole in my skin. Honestly, this left a permanent marking on my forehead that I hid with bangs for most of my adolescent years. A permanent remembrance of the pain of hair.

My best friend Bronwyn and I in 8th grade. Bronx, New York

The next painful experience of my hair tragedies was the day my mother thought she had figured out the great escape from hot pressing my hair with a straighten comb and decided to take me to the beauty school on Fordham Road in the Bronx. This was my first time in a beautician like establishment. I was nervous and as scared as a 7/8 year old could be about a stranger touching her source of great pain. The young stylish, still learning the Dos and Don'ts began to put into my hair what was the growing popular hair style in the African American community in the 80s, the Jerri Curl! After she applied the chemical treatment, my head felt like it was on fire. After telling her that it was burning, she asked "did you scratch your hair?". I couldn't remember if I had or not but I knew my scalp was burning and I wanted that stuff out. Her fellow peer students begin to come over and fan my hair with various items, as if they were cooling down an actual fire. This did nothing to my burning scalp. Finally, I was able to make it to the sink with tears down my face, and she washed out the chemicals. I thought my pain was over but I was sadly mistaken. The physical pain yes, but the emotional pain was about to begin. As she begin to style my hair, she noticed that my ends had not curled, then she asked, "did you have a perm in your hair?". I had no idea, and I can't remember if my mother responded but I knew the scissors came out and she begin to cut my hair; I mean just my ends, as she said. She gives me the mirror after she was done, and I was mortified. My hair was about an inch long and this rounded short curly afro, and I begin to cry. I cried and cried and in between of crying, I stated to my mother and the student beautician, "I look like a boy."

Christians and most non Christians know the story of Samson and Delilah, and the power in which his hair carried. Does the length of a person's hair have anything to do with strength? If so, why have I noticed that when women are promoted into higher positions, they tend to cut their hair shorter? Why have I noticed that the more that a woman has on her plate, such as a career, motherhood, and possibly being a wife, her hair tends to become shorter? Doesn't it take strength to achieve a higher position in your career and doesn't it take great strength to jungle life's challenges, however women tend to chop it off during times of stress? Is shorter hair more manageable, and takes a back seat to more important things in a woman's life or does it truly connect a lot with our emotions?

As I sit here and type my very first blog post, I feel down and my hair is absolutely horrible, and once I get done, I am heading to the only beauty supply store that opens on Sunday, Won's Wigs, and purchasing me a wig. I am not very fond of wigs but I like their versatility and convenience. Such a thing as hair shouldn't cause pain, whether it be physical or emotional however it does. African American men and women are still having to defend their rights to wear their natural hair to this day. Although I haven't put any straightening or curly chemicals in my hair to change it's texture in a while, I haven't worn my natural hair out in 3 or more years. Wigs, weaves and braids have nurtured my distraction from concentrating so much on my hair. With so much going on in the world, are we in need of a distraction to worry and debate about such a mundane thing like hair, which can be changed quicker than changing a tire? Why are there still debates on what professional hair is in such a diverse society?

My thoughts go back to Samson, and the power of hair; Hair is Power! Those who decide to wear whatever hairstyles they choose, hold that power. Whether it's long, short, blonde or blue, you have the power to decide, and not conforming to anybody's opinion is the true power of hair!

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