Hair today, hope tomorrow

Posted in Hair Stories by Ashley Franklin on October 4, 2009
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Beginning

I wasn’t born with hair. It was more like a scalp of five o’clock shadow. As a kid I had a little more luck. I do mean little. My hair wasn’t long and flowing. It was just enough to form into little puffs with hundreds of barrettes. Now that I think about it, I wonder if these barrettes were for fashion or a parental declaration to strangers that I wasn’t a boy. There’s picture evidence that these hair sprouts eventually matured. But as with anything being treated by products promising overall greatness, the results were short-lived.

Hot combs to the rescue (read as demise)! I’m not even sure why this is an option at all. I love my grandmother with all my heart, but for the life of me I can’t understand why I was sent to her to get my hair pressed. Pressed? A thick metal comb was placed on the stovetop and heated fifteen degrees past Hell. This was done all in the name to get my hair straight.

The Middle

Fast-forward to third grade. I get my first perm (or chemical relaxer). Pressing obviously didn’t do enough damage. So now we resorted to chemicals. Sadly, for nearly the next sixteen years my hair started to build up a resistance. I went from one brand to another. “Switching products every now and then is necessary for the hair.” Yeah, sure it is. That’s exactly why my hair fought valiantly like it was fighting a virus.

The End

Many braids, weaves, extensions, and cuts later, I quit. I have actively decided to give up. I know when I have lost. In anger and frustration, I recently stopped getting relaxers in my hair. Braids hurt and are tight. Weaves and extensions take almost more maintenance than your own actual hair. Cutting my hair seemed like a marvelous solution until my hair started growing faster out of spite.

So for the past two months I’ve done nothing to my hair besides wash it and leave it alone. Oh, I’ve tossed a wig on it to go to church and work. I’ve grown tired of taking “my hair” on and off, so now what? I’ve decided to get dreads. I’ve googled them, talked to people with them, and thought about how they might change my life. I’m hoping that maybe my hair will now finally cooperate if it’s given more freedom to do what it wants—without chemical interruption or excessive amounts of temporary manipulation.

The Reason

So why even go through all of these hair changes? Well, as a child I didn’t have much of a choice. As a teenager I wanted to fit in. As an adult, I’m still figuring out what I really want. My hair has pretty much been my social in. However, dreads aren’t exactly mainstream. Am I trading social acceptance for self liberation? Maybe trying to live without peer pressure is just too foreign of a concept. At this age, shouldn’t peer pressure not even be an issue? Maybe, like me, it reinvents itself over the years.


4 Responses to 'Hair today, hope tomorrow'

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  1. Javar Rochester said,

    Reading your words led me to do nothing but feel your battle. To something that seems so effortless….so natural…so normal….to you has became a game of Chess. Where youve developed a strategy not to win the battle, but to achieve overall success to the war. Your words paint a picture, a picture that I understood clear and well. Keep up the good work doctor brown. Ur imagination is priceless and lost these days, but its writers like you that bring intellectuals like me back to the best entertainment of all which is literature.

  2. alexis brown said,

    As your sister i know the battles that you have had with your hair. You already kno that i got the better hair out of us two….(yours is special in its own way)lol… Anyway i think thats its good for you to start a blog and tell people about the trials that your hair has gone through..Hopefully their’s hasnt gotten that bad yet. Sike! Im just playing. Good job on the blog…

  3. Brother Waliiy said,

    Mrs. Franklin,
    I didn’t have an inkling of how traumatic things were for you growing up with what my circle calls afro eccentric folicals. Growing up I always wanted to be closer to my roots in terms of African genes, darker skin and different hair texture, as opposed to the mixed heritage that led my sisters and i to have wavy and flowing straight hair. Some see it as a blessing, to have straight, curly, or wavy hair. But to me its only the evidence left behind of the atrocities that befell our ancestry. There is a segment in the movie “School Daze”, by the masterful director Spike Lee about how college students segregated themselves socially according to the content of each others physicalities as African Americans (At a primarily majority African American institution..lol). It broke down alot of barriers for me and helped to shed some light on my perception as being a carrier of the “Curse”. Your optomism and creativity has gone great lengths, but it’s your valor and courage that stands out far and beyond to finally accept what blessing that our ancestors have given you. Natural beauty.

  4. Robin said,

    dreads now? since when?

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