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By Marissa Charles

You know the classic movie scene where a suicidal person stands on the edge of a building and threatens to jump off? I was that poor sod about six weeks ago.

No, I wasn’t threatening to take my life. I was this close to grabbing a pair of scissors and chopping all my hair off.

Fortunately my hairdresser Richard talked me down from the ledge. “Step away from the scissors, Marissa,” he said to me over the phone. That Saturday morning I awoke with my hair in a knotted, mess of tangles. Matted in some parts, my tresses had clumped into four sections with thick roots and stringy relaxed ends forming peaks on the top. It was a natural disaster.

God must have been with me that day because the whole scenario was enough to give a girl a heart attack. Two-and-a-half months earlier I had taken my first step on the road towards natural hair. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while but I didn’t have the guts to do it. I’ve had relaxed hair since I was 11 and didn’t have a clue how to care for it in its natural state.

So I did my research. I went online and trawled through blogs and videos about embracing your curls and kinks. I entered a world with its own special language of acronyms and abbreviations.

I decided my moon face was too full to go for the BC, the “Big Chop.” (I cannot rock a baldhead or a TWA, a “Teeny Weenie Afro.) Transitioning – gradually growing my natural hair out – seemed to be the better option and wearing extensions seemed the logical way to prevent unnecessary breakage.

I hate wearing braids but if I’m going to do something then I’m going to do it right. That’s why I was pleased when I found what I thought was a reputable braiding salon in Los Angeles where I live.

The establishment shall remain nameless but its website was impressive, as were the five-star testimonials on The gallery of photos on their page looked good and when I went to see the stylist she assured me she could deliver what I asked for – individual braids that wouldn’t pull my roots or break my hair. She promised me they wouldn’t be heavy and I could keep them in for up to three months.

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