People often say to me that they wish they had hair like mine. I could finish this blog post with three words and an exclamation mark i.e.
“No you don’t!”
but where’s the fun in that?
It’s a fact of life that people always want things that they can’t have and nothing illustrates this more than hair. Brunettes that want to be blondes, the curly haired girls that reach for the straighteners every morning and I don’t know any woman my age that hasn’t had at least one perm.
As a child I wanted nothing more than long blonde hair. I spent a LOT of my childhood daydreaming about having long blonde hair. I was happy to consider other colours, but the non-negotiable aspects were that it had to be long and straight. On one hand I was probably influenced by the lack of representation at that time, but realistically it almost certainly had a lot more to do with things that were far more about me and my personal priorities such as the fact that afros don’t move (watch any 1970s advert to find out how popular swishing your hair about was at that time) The other highly motivating factor behind my obsession with long straight hair was that having your mum go through your hair with an afro comb was absolutely no fun. In fact it was the opposite of fun. It was often genuinely painful and the longer you got away with not having it combed, the worse it was when you did.
Having daydreamed and combed-dodged my way through primary school and the first few years of secondary school. I eventually decided to start caring how my hair looked. It was clear by this point that I wasn’t going to wake up one morning with long straight hair so I started experimenting.
At some point in the fourth year (old school for year 10) I joined the TCB crew and had a wet look perm. It was the late 1980s and wet look perms were very popular. If you’re not familiar with the concept of the wet look perm it essentially involved having your hair permed and then applying specialised hair products to make it look wet and curly.
The perm looked good, but frankly there was a lot of work involved. Actually getting the perm wasn’t a problem. Fairly standard, the thing I wasn’t entirely prepared for was the sheer volume of product.
TCB was (and possibly still is) a huge brand and once you committed to the perm your house was suddenly filled with beige coloured bottles containing lotions and potions dedicated to maintaining the perm. There was a special shampoo, there was a special conditioner, there was a special moisturiser, there was a special activator but the main thing I remember is that there was sleeping in a shower cap because the wet look perm didn’t just look wet – it was wet.
The hair products would end up on my face and it was all just too much. I went from barely combing my afro to having to do a whole routine every morning and always ending up with TCB hair products on my face. I have no intention of ever reliving any of that. 14 year old me wasn’t particularly skilled when it came to haircare, so it’s entirely possible that my lack of technique contributed to the problem.
Having abandoned the idea of ever rejoining the TCB crew I recently decided to go back to braids. The thing with hair is that it’s a personal thing and people don’t always see the work that goes into the hairstyle we actually show to the world. I see amazing braid styles but frankly don’t have the patience for some of them. For the right hairdo I’m happy to sit in one spot for a long time, but my days of sitting in one spot for a double digit amount of hours is a thing of the past. The longest I have ever spent having my hair done was 18 hours (yes you read that correctly) and it was great, but not great enough that I’d consider doing it again.
Braiding can be hard to time effectively and once you’ve started there’s no going back. If the person braiding your hair talks more than they plait, then it might take a while or if they make the individual braids really small then you’re probably in for a long wait. Luckily this time I managed to get my fro under control in under four hours, at a reasonable cost and without excruciating pain which has made me extremely happy.
I’m already in the process of deciding what to do with mine next and nothing’s grabbing me at the moment. Other than the financial side of things I have almost unlimited options, which might be part of the problem.
Watch this space, I’m off to Pinterest for inspiration.