For an upcoming Black Hair documentary I was asked for pictures from the past to show some of my hairstyles before going natural. As someone who literally tried every hairdo in the book, from an afro to a relaxer and a jheri curl, from braids to weaves, I seriously had a blast. So I thought I’d share. Not only for the laughs but also because I am pretty sure many of you can relate. I just wonder how much.
Just a litlle overview
With my parents in Wageningen, Suriname
Ok, I admit, this is cute. My all time favorite picture with my parents. A photographer was hired to picture them for their 12 ½ anniversary. I didn’t have a clue then but looking back now I think I was just in the way but I didn’t know that either. They just included me in the shoot while I was totally unaware.
However, this is how I wore my hair every day. Before going to school my mom combed me and my sister’s hair every morning in two braids. She didn’t like too many braids at all. For a special occasion like a birthday party she would do our hair in a bun with a ribbon.
I am sure you remember those beautiful colorful ribbons that would almost never make it home after a kids party.
With one of my oldest friends – Wageningen, Suriname
So one day I heard my mother talking to her friends about me being more like a tomboy and that maybe she should cut my hair because I was tender headed and didn’t like to do my hair. I really liked that idea for some reason. So the next day after school I just went to the barber to get my hair cut in an Afro. I convinced the barber that it was ok that my mom would be fine with it.
Needless to say my mom nearly fainted when I got home. She couldn’t believe that the barber cut my hair without her permission, without her being there. Mind you I was just 5 or 6 year old.
In some state of a shock my mom just mumbled something that my hair would never grow back now but that was about it. From then on my sweet mother braided my hair every night so I could wear a nice afro to school the next day.
My permed hairdo
My first relaxer was at the age of 14 and I really loved it. I was tired of my Afro, wanted a new do because I started liking boys and wanted to look mature. The excitement for my new style didn’t last long though. Pretty soon I discovered that not only did my carefully styled hair collapsed to easily. The straight strands would just never stay in place and the upkeep was hard to manage for a teenager who was a sports fanatic.
Jheri Curl Days. Do you recognize me? I thought I was soooo cool!
So when the Jheri Curl came out, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The best thing about it was that I didn’t need to sleep with rollers ever again, my hair would be naturally curly and wearable in a get up and go style. Of course you needed a lot of “Soul glo” stuff in your hair but it was certainly easier than putting rollers in, sleeping with them only to feel your style collapse the minute you stepped outside of your house.
My excitement for the Jheri Curl lasted longer because the style was easier to maintain and my hair grew like weed in the first few months. The reason I stopped wearing a Jheri Curl was not because the movie Coming to America was making fun of this hairstyle that left embarrassing greasy stains behind wherever you went. Ok, maybe it had a little impact but the main reason was that my hair started to break severely. It was frightening. There went my shoulder length hair. Clumps of Jheri Curls came out for no reason at all! I used more than enough soul glo stuff for it to be healthy. So that was it. I decided to grow my hair back and started wearing braids.
To me box braids were the easiest style ever. Yes, it took a long time, five hours to be exact, to get them in, but after that it was just get up and go and your hair always looked good. So this was going to be my go to style until I discovered the hard way what a tidious task it was to take the extensions out. The first time I freaked! I couldn’t believe it was so hard to take my braids out. After all my hair was untangled at the time extensions were added so how could the hair be so matted? True, I didn’t have a clue back then yet I learned and wore braids until my broken spots grew back. Then of course it was back to the style I knew best, the relaxer!
On graduation day with my best friend
Of course my hair looked pretty good and healthy after relaxing it post a year of braids. I was happy and was going to take care of my hair really well this time to make sure my hair would never break again. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do. My hair started to break again after the first touch up. To prevent this from happening again the salon first used the mildest relaxer and when that didn’t help they recommended perming my hair every four weeks.
Thin permed days
Although my hair looks reasonable here, it was not only thinning in the middle on the top of my crown was broken again down to my scalp. I was super conscious because I couldn’t hide it all the time. That’s when I decided enough. I started to ask myself why am I doing this? When I realized that I was just doing it out of habit I decided to go natural.
Self made Motjo Kumbas, a style from Suriname
It was definitely trial and error and I certainly didn’t feel confident all the time but I was so determined to grow my hair back that I really didn’t care. All I wanted was to have my own hair back, healthy, if people didn’t like it that would be ok with me but the health of my hair was more important than people’s thoughts or their acceptance.
Me and my weave
When I was told that weaves grow your hair back quicker than braids, I also tried them out a couple of times. Weaves were definitely easier to get time wise because it didn’t take as long as braiding. The maintenance was almost the same in that it’s get up and go but a few things drove me crazy about the weaves. One, the un-natural looking hair line in the front. It made me conscious as if people could see from a mile away that my hair was so fake. Second, the constant shedding. Hairs all over the house really drove me nuts. Then last but not least the sagging. When the cornrows get loose and the hair gets old my hair really looked a mess and I realized that weaves were just not for me.
Now I am sure you had a blast so please share, how many of these hairstyles did you have?