For many older African British women, no matter what we do, there are seasons when our natural hair simply will not cooperate. I have found, during such times, that singing, or saying the lyrics to certain songs, are what gets me through.
To put you in perspective, we black women, for the most part, use many unhealthy hair products in the search of taming our unruly curls and kinks. In fact the women’s hair care industry in the United States is made up of an 80% black-female consumer base! Here in the United Kingdom that figure drops to 30%, which is still a huge figure considering that the black population in the United Kingdom barely reaches 5% of the total population.
For those of us black women seeking natural health, we have to completely wean ourselves off the nasty hair products that are targeted at us for unruly curls and instead use natural hair products, nutrition and supplementation (best through homeopathy) to achieve healthy hair. In case you’re wondering, men are also affected in that they are prone to using chemical-full hair products that damage their health. In the case of black men, however, they only need a short amount of hair length to be able to wear natural mens hairstyles like cornrows and dreadlocks which are popular hairstyles among black men. In our case (black women), we need to invest way more time and energy into growing our manes longer so as to be able to tam the coiling effect that shrinks the length of our curly kinky hair. I may write more on the subject of hair growth for natural hair in the future, but for now, I’d rather post my personal experience in this first blog post of mine here.
My husband has cut my hair completely off 5 times (known as the “big chop”). Each time, my kinky curly mane grew to a certain point, and then it began breaking again. At first I was disappointed, and I even cried on a few occasions. I recalled James Brown singing; “If you don’t get it the first time, back up and try it again. This gave me the courage to try yet again.
I knew the second time, I had it right, and was singing Shalamar’s “Second time around”. I kept repeating the chorus of, “Not like the first time, not like the first time.” It was all to no avail. And I thought to myself, so much for positive confession.
Surely the third time would be the charm, and I remembered a song by Mel and Tim, and I began singing, “Starting all over again is gonna be rough on us, but we’re gonna make it”. Starting all over again is gonna be hard, but I pray that the Lord will help us make it”.
Growing up I had shoulder length hair, but once I began wearing it in an afro hairstyle, and later I began using relaxers the trouble began. In 1997, my hair was once again shoulder length, without me doing anything special. Shortly after that however, stress that led to a diagnosis of panic and anxiety attacks caused me to begin pulling my hair, until it was bald in spots (i.e. trichotillomania). I’ve talked with David of covering the topic of trichotillomania in the future in this blog, as my own experience has show that homeopathy was an excellent remedy for the balding spots!
To give you an idea, this is what trichotillomania looks like. Please bear in mind that this is not me but instead a clinical case from the condition being very severe.
While my hair was long in the back, I had short and bald spots just below the crown. My husband cut it twice more, but the same thing continued to happen. So now my husband has cut my hair 5 times, and either I twist and pull it until it breaks, or it gets to it’s plateau and stops growing.
I have kept photos where you see me with a bald head and my hair as it grew. What you cannot see is the breakage, and locking that took place behind my head. I was so disappointed to have to cut more than 15 months worth of growth, yet again for a 5th time, but I had no choice.
If you find that your natural hair will not cooperate, because it thins, breaks, you pull it out, or perms that went wrong, please do not despair. Find a song to sing, and start over again. Analyze your steps and maintenance routine, and you will surely find out what you need to do or stop doing.
Our hair changes as we age, and that is a factor we must keep in mind. As we get older, we also no longer have the time and in some cases finances to maintain our hair as we did in our youth. I realized, I was not always keeping my ends clipped, or moisturizing as I knew I should. I also didn’t make the most of the homeopathic solutions available at the time for improve the health of my hair. I was discovering homeopathy at the time and it was a miracle that I got to learn more and more about the wonders that homeopathy can do for one’s hear and overall well-being.
Once my hair was mid length, I found I was trying to force it into a ponytail. This seems to be a trait of black women. I guess a pony tail is validation that our hair has grown. What I do not understand is why we cannot wait until we have more than enough for a ponytail before we try to wear one.
The main point is to accept your unique hair. Do not compare yourself with others. If you have to cut your hair multiple times, just keep going until you get it right. Read blogs, magazines and talk to other women dealing the same issues.