"Ouch!" I cried. "Be still!" mom said. I was a thick haired, tender headed child. Mom was never much of a hair person so she often did not know what to do with my hair. Most of the time, growing up, I wore my hair braided (cornrows, singles, crochet...you name it I probably had it) with the occasional press and curl (if it was a holiday i.e. Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas, etc.). I NEVER was allowed to wear my hair loose (often heard "You have too much hair for that.") so although I didn't have a relaxer, I unfortunately did not know what my natural texture looked like.
Soon mom became frustrated and impatient, so at the age of eleven (right before starting middle school) my mom had one of my older cousins apply a relaxer to my hair (dad wasn't very happy...). As I waited for the relaxer to process (and felt for the first time "the dreaded tingle")I anticipated seeing myself for the first time with straight, silky hair instead of the braided or puffy,somewhat straight hair (now that I think back, all I can do is shake my head). After the relaxer was rinsed out, my hair was blowed dried and styled...and so the process continued every 8-12 weeks for the next seven years.
At the age of 18, upon graduating high school, I decided that to symbolize me being an adult and the change from high school to college, that I would stop getting relaxers and go natural. So I set out to find as much information I could about natural hair and growing my hair longer. I would spend hours upon hours on hair forums, and spent dollars upon dollars trying hair products. Once I felt I was armed with enough information, I walked into my nearest Hair Cuttery one February morning in 2006 and had all of my relaxed ends cut off. The stylist kept asking if I was REALLY sure I wanted to cut off THAT much hair (was about BSL at the time). I remember taking a deep breath and saying "DO IT!" When I walked out of the shop I was suddenly unsure if I had made the right decision. For the next, 3-4 months I wore my hair flat ironed, a phoney pony, or headwrap. Soon I became comfortable with my natural hair. I was able to find products and techniques that worked with my hair and I received many compliments.
Fast forward to April 2008. I began to get bored with my hair so I decided that I would relax my hair (ugh "the dreaded tingle" AGAIN). I remember sitting in my kitchen one Friday night and having my dad apply a virgin relaxer application to my hair. I would then receive a touch up every 12 weeks until November 2009.
2009 was an interesting year for me. I graduated college in May, I cut my APL hair to a SL bob in June, my best friend moved to the other side of the world in July, started graduate school in August, got my last relaxer on November 6, chopped my then slightly grown out SL bob to a chin length assymetrical bob later that month, watched the movie "Good Hair", and decided to transition again to natural hair in December.
In 2010, I pretty much used protective styles and did not use heat. On November 20, 2010, after a veryyyyyyyyyyyyyy frustrating experience, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and began cutting my hair (6 months before I had originally planned). At first I thought "What am I doing?!?" but soon I became excited and liberated. Now I have decided that I will NEVER use another relaxer and I am embarking on a lifelong (??) journey to healthy, long, natural hair.