Right before high school, we discovered the flat iron.
You will notice, when referring to my hair for most of my childhood to late teens, I say “we” a lot. This is because my mom and I were on the journey together. Together we found out my hair’s dislikes and likes, and we shared the pride when something worked out.
My hair took pretty well to being flat-ironed, and I loved the way it looked and felt. I loved touching it, flipping it, running my hands through it. I just felt great with it straightened out.
Unfortunately due to the amount of time it took do, and the amount of rain we have in Vancouver, I couldn’t wear it straight nearly as much as I would have liked. Flat Ironing was a special treat usually reserved for competition season and dance performances, or when I asked really nicely. Still, its introduction into my life had shown me my hair could be something different.
The reason I liked my straight hair over my natural hair was mostly out of practicality. When my hair was smoothed out, I was actually able to manage it on my own.
To put it into context. I didn’t do my own hair until I was 17 years old. Yup. My mother faithfully did my hair from birth, all the way up until the 12th grade. I don’t even think I started washing it myself until I was at least 14 or 15 years old. I have memories of being a bit older, bent over the tub as she scrubbed the shampoo into my hair; the edge of the bath digging into my chest. In fact, I think one of the first few times I had tried to wash it on my own, she sent me right back up because I hadn’t managed to get all the shampoo off my scalp.
The truth is, the thought of trying the entire process (Washing, BlowDrying, Styling) by myself was absolutely overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start.
So along we went through my time in high school; my mom blowdrying my hair on wash day, straightening on competition days, and braiding it in between.
If my hair wasn’t contained in braids, or smoothed out by a straightener, my hair was 100% of the time pulled back in a bun with a Lululemon headband pulled over it. (I am still guilty of this look on my lazy days). At the time I really wasn’t aware of any other option.
I didn’t have access to tools like Naturallycurly.com, and I didn’t know any one with hair like mine. The few black girls at my school either had relaxed their hair, had a weave in, or had a texture that I could do nothing buy eye enviously.
I also think this is why I liked my straight hair. I could style it. My mom and I knew nothing of “Twist-Outs” and “Braid-Outs”, and a Wash n’ Go would have left my hair so matted up, it would have to be chopped off. Had we known the true potential of styling natural hair at the time, maybe I would have appreciated it a bit more.
So, in my final year of high school, I was accepted into a dance school in New York City. By this point I was only sort of able to effectively wash and blow dry my own hair, so we needed to think of some options for my survival.
All of my life up until that point, relaxing my hair had been completely off the table. My mom didn’t want my hair to be ruined, and I was terrified of going bald. But then, if I moved away from home, to a completely different country, how was I supposed to handle all of my hair?
After going back and forth, and after receiving a referral from a friend of my mom’s, we found the hair dresser who would perform my first Creamy Crack Treatment…
~Comfy Girl with Curls
[…] Part 2 – A Teen and a Flat Iron […]