My hair has always been a thing of contention and frustration for me. It, being a blend of thick Haitian roots yet straight and without natural curls, has given me a headache since before I can remember. There was never an option to simply wash-n-go. There was no beach on a whim or working-out in just a ponytail. No, my hair is a production. And planning is key: Take a day off work, have plenty of snacks, pay your NetFlix bill, and watch a minimum 4 hours of YouTube to pick a hairstyle.
Okay, that last one is a stretch! But it requires some real effort and work to transform my hair into something of magic and beauty. Let’s take a look at the journey through my hair catastrophe and into acceptance and hair envy.
WARNING: THE PICTURES YOU’RE ABOUT TO SEE MIGHT HORRIFY YOU! AND MAKE YOU GO “AWWWWWW!”
Baby Paula: I never wanted beads of bows or colorful things in my hair. They were comfortable and didn’t provide any versatility. I didn’t like being girly, didn’t wanna wear dresses and couldn’t stand anything that wasn’t made of cotton. But I was a kid and didn’t have a choice. So I dealt with bowrettes until I was old enough to do my own hair.
Teen Paula (sorry, no pics): The year of three layer pony tails. My mom would buy me a new ponytail every 2 weeks. They were $10 each and I would twist or braid the front of my hair and snap a fake ponytail on the back. Yo, I got picked on some bad! When I wasn’t rocking a clip on ponytail with the Aaliyah swoosh, my aunt Cheryl (pictured above behind me) would braid my hair using kanekelon. It was so tight, my scalp would split. Literally, I’d be bleeding. One time, my scalp started bleeding in class and the nurse had to cut my braids out during lunch break. I was pissed!
College: I was so lost. I didn’t like my natural hair but I didn’t want to perm it. The damage of the perm was more stressful that the “brillo pad” on my head. I hadn’t learned how to manage it but I didn’t know what to do with it. I discovered crochet long before it become popular again and was decent enough with a latch hook to look presentable- which is what you see in the blue shirts. However, I also discovered the “half wig” and I would buy them any color and try to blend my hair with gel. That’s the disaster you see in the middle. Gosh, I looked so bad! But I enjoyed experimenting and trying new styles in my hair.
Post College: I couldn’t take it anymore. My hair wasn’t healthy or growing and even my attempts at being “natural” were in vain. So in 2012, I big chopped! Yup, I took a pair of scissors and did it myself. (Then I went to a barber to fix my mess.) Everyone raved about my low cut but I was so unhappy with the style and the growth. I thought by starting over, I’d get the curls and texture my perms had taken away. So in 2013, I chopped again. It was then I realized that I wasn’t going to get the bounce and coils the YouTube chicks had. My only option was to figure out what worked for and work it. And if I do say so myself, cause I do, honey I did… take a look below!
YAAAAAS! I wrung this mop into submission! Once it grew back, I learned what worked for me. And I call this #blackgirlmagic. I love the versatility of the curls I can create with product or the straight thick strands I can achieve with heat. I love my hair. It is so everything my ancestors would be proud of.
Below are some examples of the fun I have with my hair. I still can crochet like nobodies business (peep the faux-locs) and will blend a curly or quick weave for a fun night out. I also like to be silly and wear pigtails or just let it fly free. It’s My Crown! And I do with it whatever I want! And it let’s me!
(Now, you may be wondering where is the color? No greens or blonde or red? I did a deep purple once and it was cool but I’ve found dye does too much damage. Plus, can’t rock a red lip with purple hair and honey… I love a red lip!)