How many of you natural hair, fro-having, twist-rocking sistas have been natural your entire life? That means no perms, no texturizers, no hair-texture changing chemicals, no nothing. From what I can guess, many women of color have experimented with chemicals in their hair at some point in their lives. That’s perfectly fine. I’m here to tell my story about how I’ve been part of the “natural hair movement” for the past 22 years, or to put in layman terms, my entire life.
Not everyone I tell that I’m a natural hair lifer believes me. For some reason I’m sometimes told that I “must be lying.” Or, I occasionally get that “yeah right!” look. Those responses have always puzzled me. Why is it so weird that I’ve never had a perm? Is there some kind of national law that mandates every black woman living in the 21st century needs to have had experienced the creamy crack lifestyle? Is having a perm a rite of passage that I somehow missed out on? Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my hair pressed, flatironed, and blow-dried before but this mane above is a perm virgin.
I have to credit my mother to my natural hair lifer-ness. From early on, my mother was very adamant about us wearing our hair natural and , in her deepest Jamaican accent, made sure to let everyone know that her daughters would NOT be putting “dem nonsense chemical inna dem hair.”
Having “natural hair” wasn’t always cool or the “it” thing to do. Wearing my hair natural in elemantary school was pretty tough. Most of my classmates used to get their hair permed and styled, while I rocked “doodoo braids,”as my classmates liked to call them. This was also around the time when girls started becoming conscious of their looks. During recess, my friends and I would go around comparing who had “good” hair. I was normally never chosen because my hair wasn’t long, shiny, or straight.
My best friend tried convincing me that I should let her mom, a hair stylist, give me a perm against my mother’s will. It would make my hair “softer” and more “manageable,” her nine-year-old self lectured. “Nah-uh, I’ll pass,” was always my reply. I knew I didn’t need a perm to make my hair more “manageable.” My friend once had vibrant and healthy hair. Once she permed it, her hair started falling off and she even starting getting bald spots. We caught up a few months ago and reminisced about those younger days. In college, she made the transition back to natural and told me she regretted perming her hair when she was younger.