Chemically straightening my hair opened up a world of possibilities for different styles and self-maintenance. As a direct result of my childhood hair trauma (detangling sessions that once lead a neighbor to do a well check to make sure my mom wasn’t beating me for hours), I learned to cornrow my daughter’s hair when she turned 2. I didn’t want to chemically straighten her hair – by this time I cut off my chemically straightened hair and was embracing my curls – but I did want her to love her hair and wear it in many different styles.
I ran so far in the other direction from my mother and still ended up in the same place. My daughters being unhappy and dissatisfied with the hair that grows out of their heads.
They complain that it does not behave the way they would like it to. They dread wash day and the hours it takes to detangle, wash and style their hair…. I dread it too since what is 3 hours for them is 9 hours for me. They long for the freedom to style and care for their hair independently. They don’t like the hours of preparation that is required to change styles.
I took the big girls to a salon in Boston and let them get their hair straightened when they turned 11 and 13. It was so painful to watch, mostly because they were crying from the pain. The process took about 3 inches off of their hair and 4 hours to complete, but they loved the freedom of being able to style their own hair in a different way each day. They got a chance to show off the length that all those years of protective styles produced, and felt like they fit into the conventional beauty standard for over a week. Was it worth it? I suppose I will know if they choose to do it again.
We live an active life that includes a lot of swimming in the ocean and the pool as well as playing in the sun. We buy conditioner by the gallon and sleep on satin pillowcases. Hopefully with me they will learn how to care for their hair in its natural state and treat it like the crown of glory that it is