Where do I begin? Who possessed my mother into putting classic Alkaline and Ammonium Thioglycolate, also known as, perm onto my 3c/4b coily curls?
When I was younger, my hair was shaped into a Jackson 5 Afro but was always in two pigtails styled in twists or the good old fashioned hot comb straightened hair with grease sizzled edges. I used to be a dancer so my mother had to figure out a way to make my hair more manageable and easy to detangle.
When I was around the age of 6-7, my mother took me to a hair salon where they gave me my first perm and boy oh boy, did it burn. The pain of the perm made me want to shed more than a few tears. Prior to getting this perm, I would constantly scratch my scalp which will create scars on the scalp and extreme burning sensations. As I’m typing this blog, I’m sort of envisioning the pain I felt back then.
I continued perming my hair until I was in 7th grade. I decided to transition from permed to natural because during this time my mother was also transitioning so she stopped taking me to the salons for touch-ups every month and once I started to try and take care of my hair I noticed a difference in textures and I completely fell in love.
During the time of transitioning, I would constantly get blow outs from the Dominican hair salons or I would get box braids, twists, or two french braids with added hair. Throughout this process it was very important for me to at least get a trim every month just to let go of all of the permed ends.
I wasn’t alone throughout this process. My mother also had a perm and was beginning to transition so for the emotional aspect of transitioning, she understood my frustration with my hair. I honestly had to learn a great deal of patience and I’m glad I did.
Once I reached my freshman year of high-school, I asked my mother if I can get my first real cut and I went from having long permed hair to a Dora like bob cut with bangs that were too hideous and embarrassing to even re-visit. By my sophomore year, my hair grew out and I was fully natural. Not a perm in sight but then I did another dangerous thing to my hair, can you guess what I did? Yup. That’s right, I bleached it. I bleached my entire head a platinum blonde and I thought I was killing the game. I ended up killing my curls, again.
I got tired of putting my hair through so much stress during all four years of high school and dying it from blonde to red, then red to brown, then brown to jet black and now back to purple, I knew I had to make a change. I promised myself that I would nurture my hair once I graduated.
My freshman year of college came and I cut my hair into a brown bob. I would constantly straighten it which also does damage to your curls so I began wearing weaves and trying to keep heat out of my hair. Yes, it is hard. I gave into temptation many of times for the first two years of college but I knew it was time to let it go.
I am now a Junior in college and prior to becoming a junior, I shaved my hair all off as a fresh start. Chopping my hair off is not only a physical growth spurt for me but also is helping me grow emotionally. I am learning to love natural hair and I have a long ways to go as far as my curls prospering. It’s a journey. A journey to acceptance and self-love.