Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Question of the Day

This week I'm participating in the Blog Circle of Hair Anxiety started by author Justina Ireland. It was inspired by Beyonce's (short lived) pixie cut and the anxieties African American women feel about the upkeep of their hair. Justina asked writers to share their hair anxiety stories on their blogs.

My hair has gone through a lot of abuse in 21 years. I'm not the most stylish person. If I had a choice I would go all day with out touching my hair. I don't hate my hair, I'm just lazy. Even when I style it on my own, it's not good (according to my mother). I do however like the feeling of freshly relaxed hair, but after the second day it never looks the same.

As a child I had a signature style. Twisted pigtails, colorful balls and matching barrettes.

As I got older my hair was easier to style when it was straightened. My mother would put her old fashioned hot comb on the stove and spent long time taming my thick mane.

Unfortunately I was an active child and by the end of the day I would sweat so much my hair would frizz up again. In the fifth grade mom took me to get my first relaxer. For those of you who don't know a relaxer is, it's basically a chemical that straightens hair. According to my mother, getting the relaxer did not change a thing. My hair was straight, but it still took the same amount of time to keep it looking nice. It also cost a lot of money. My roots would grow back curly, so every 4 to 6 weeks I had to get it touched up.

13 year old Leslie hair
relaxed, flipped and fabulous 

To be honest, I was the worst patron. I'd always complain about my itchy scalp. My former hairdresser knew how to handle me. If it burns, then she'll wash it out. If it itches, tough luck. One time my usual hairdresser was out and I got my touch up from a different lady. It itched. I complained. She washed it out. Big mistake. My hair was not done processing, so in result my hair started to fall out. It was never the same after that. My once thick mane thinned out over time.

Joy in Cinderella
Being in theatre didn't help either. In high school I was pledged with with multiple wigs because I couldn't style my hair to look period appropriate. As a result I ended my high school career with short thin hair. Up until my senior year in high school, my mom took care of my hair for me. Every morning she would flat iron my hair before I went to school. When I graduated I had no idea how to use a flat iron, let alone curl my hair. So ultimately I decided to get micros. It was either my second biggest mistake or a wake up call.
Chorus in Kiss Me Kate
Miss Flannery in
Thoroughly Modern Millie

Only photographic evidence
I hated the braids. They were too hot and always in my way. Overtime the braids would fall out and my short hair would stick up. After three months I finally took the braids out and my hair was jacked up. I went to a local hairdresser and she gave me an ultimatum: continue living with unhealthy hair or chop it off. It was a tough decisions, but I had to do what was best for my hair.

This was actually 8 weeks post relaxer. Still looked good.
This was the best decision I made for the time. It grew back longer and healthier than ever. For months I took good care of my hair. It took hours to wash, deep condition, moisturize and style. My favorite style was the curls.

With the curls I was able to stretch the time between relaxer. The more less stress I put on my hair, the more it grew. So by the end of 2012 my hair was back to it's original length and thickness.

After a stressful semester year. Keeping up with my hair became problematic. So I decided to chop it off again. It's so much better this way. It's growing back quickly. I don't know what I want to do in the future. Maybe I'll keep growing it out or maybe I'll go natural.

Obviously these pictures are of my hair at its best (a.k.a. immediately after styling). I don't even look like that half the time.
8/20/13 I have not combed my hair

I try not to let my hair define me, but it's something I can't ignore. Most of my anxiety comes from my mother coming at me with a comb right before we go to church.

Mom: Comb your hair!
Me: I already combed my hair!
Mom: Really? Let me just touch it up.


She blames it on me not playing with dolls as a child. I hate dolls. She bought me a black Barbie hair styling doll when I was younger. You know, just the giant freaky head. Never touched it. But let's be real, that Barbie's hair did not reflect the texture of my own hair. So what was that going to do?

African American woman in the media keep their hair looking good in the public, but behind closed doors I bet they go through as much struggle as I do. Whether it's relaxed, natural, weaved or wigged "What am I going to do with my hair?" is always the question of the day.


  1. Oh, thank you for sharing this hair journey. I love the photos and I can relate to all the feelings you've described. I didn't like dolls, either.

  2. LOOK AT THE CUTE BABY PICTURE! Ohmigosh you are so precious! AAAAAAAAAAW!

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.