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Beautiful Yet Burdensome: Why I Rejected My Long Natural Hair as a Child

Avatar • Jul 15, 2013

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The author, Kischa, on the far left of the bottom row

When I was small, my great-grandmother would stroke my head and purr in my ear, “Child, your crown is milking your flesh.” I’d always been the skinniest thing, you see, but my hair was a bounty. It was dense, thick and running the length of my back, making it somewhat of a mysterious and prized anomaly in a family of short-tressed women. When my grandfather passed away shortly after my sixth birthday, he asked, on his deathbed, that my mother pledge never to cut my hair.

Mom tried her best, but if she wanted to comb my hair after washing it, she had to catch me first. I had “the nerve,” as one aunt one put it, “to be tender-headed and nappy.” So when my mother, overwhelmed by the daily management of my hair, took me to a salon at the age of seven for my first relaxer, I was pleased. I knew it meant an end to games of chase and hiding under furniture. I knew it was an end to the cramped necks, sore behinds, and burnt ears from spending hours in sweltering sessions beside the kitchen stove under the yoke of a hot comb. I didn’t know it meant that I would never develop a relationship with my own hair.

All throughout grade school, I made my dutiful bimonthly appointments for a wash and set, with relaxers on every third visit. By sophomore year of college, I had made the progression to weaves, and my many hairdressers would continue to reinforce the notion that my hair was beautiful yet burdensome. They’d code-switch and coo over my natural highlights or enviable length, but I came to expect their exasperated sighs when I took my seat in the salon chair and demonstrative, exhausted flopping when I left it.

I began to express a tentative desire to go natural in the hope that they might offer some guidance– which is like telling your butcher you’re giving up meat and thinking he’ll respond with vegan recipes. “I don’t think you’re gonna get the curl pattern you’re hoping for,” was the passive-aggressive response of a woman not seeking to lose any clientele. “You’ll be bald within the year!” was the doomsday pronouncement of another.

When I finally found a weaveologist with the skill set to work with my natural hair, circumstance would force me to switch to another who had no such inclination. One nightmarish woman threw up her hands and halted service mid-way through, with the insistence that she’d have to treat my hair with a texturizer or stop entirely. I could acquiesce and reverse years of natural growth, or I could show up looking a hot mess to my birthday party the next day. And it wasn’t as if I could even tell her the right way to do it. They were the professionals. They knew my hair better than I do. I didn’t know it at all. 

But I wanted to. And it seemed, more and more, that I would need to if I ever wanted to reclaim any complete sense of bodily autonomy.

As I set out in my transition, I knew wanted a style that offered health, versatility and affordability. I researched blogs, consulted a natural hair expert and acquired all the right tools and products, determined to make the leap solo.

As I entered my second hour of detangling my waist-length texturized hair, I began the sort of self-pitying tantrum whimpering that isn’t considered acceptable even in very small children. I moaned, groaned, pouted, stomped and fidgeted. I slapped my comb to the floor in frustration. I was hot. I was hungry. I was tired. I didn’t wanna! You couldn’t make me! It’s too hard! I called my best friend who talked me back in from the creamy crack ledge. I took a deep breath. Then another. And another.

After a lifetime of outsourced hair care, I was not merely incompetent but had allowed myself to succumb to the narrative that my hair was too difficult. Too nappy. Too unmanageable. Too wild. Too much. And yet patience, when I found it, would assure me that my hair was none of these things. My hair didn’t need to be “made easier.” My hair could be soft and malleable. My hair requires time, tenderness and care and is worth every bit of all it demands. My hair compels strangers to cross rooms and bestow compliments. My hair laughs in the face of gravity’s dictates. My hair’s first year has been a splendid, rewarding adventure. My hair is my crown and long may it reign.

psp8EE2

Kischa today
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Brie
Brie
7 years ago

I really enjoyed this article! It was very well written, I especially liked the closing paragraph where you declared with such great pride how you ultimately love your hair despite it’s being impractical at times. It was very rousing. Best of luck to you!

Colalover
7 years ago

Great heart warming write up! 🙂

Anonty
Anonty
7 years ago

No current pic? I like the family pic and her story was sweet but I’d have liked to see what she decided to do with her hair in the end.

juanicole617
juanicole617
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonty

Me too!

Black Girl With Long Hair
Reply to  Anonty

A picture has been added 🙂

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago

MOOOORE PICS of this hair!!

Tisha
Tisha
7 years ago

I love that piece. I found that being patience and acceptance really do make a difference in the natural hair journey.
PS: I would like to know what Kisha’s hair looks like today cuz I’m nosy like that lol

michelle
michelle
7 years ago

My hair is my crown and long may it reign”! YES! Amen! It’s true of all our manes.…2a, 3b, 4b, 4c…doesn’t matter. Our hair is beautiful, and we should love and respect it just as it is.

Charlotte
7 years ago

I hear you. I have no idea where I would be without all of the information and articles. Funny enough, still I have ended up having to invent my own way of doing things. Now I am even mixing together my own ingredients because my finicky Angel does not like a whole lot of stuff. You have drop dead gorgeous hair! I can relate to the detangling thing. Since my hair always requires detangling I have gotten used to it so it does not seem or take long anymore but it is a process I have to be extremely gentle… Read more »

Jacky
Jacky
7 years ago
Reply to  Charlotte

WOW,your hair is gorgeous

Chachamusicgirl
7 years ago
Reply to  Charlotte

Oh My Gosh! You and your hair are so beautiful and an inspiration! I am definitely growing my hair out to classic length or mid thigh length now.

Raven
7 years ago

Wow! That was a great article. My take away is acceptance. Thanks. I always envied hair that looked like Kischa’s, because I’ve always had low density hair. I’ve never spent hours having to detangle my hair. Now I realize I had the grass is greener syndrome. I appreciate this as it has opened my eyes to loving the hair I have and not envying what someone else has got.

Alisha
7 years ago

Lovely piece, and very well-written.

Love
Love
7 years ago

Well written and honest.What stood out is the following statement “I would never develop a relationship with my own hair”.

I firmly believe black women do not know how to have a good relationship with their hair which is unfortunately passed down from generation to generation. 

I am so grateful for all the brave and beautiful women out there that share their journeys so we can all be inspired and know we are not alone in this experience. Changing your mind towards your hair is key and the rest will fall into place so enjoy it. 🙂

Imani
7 years ago

A beautiful recollection of hair and identity. I’m so glad the author has made peace with her gorgeous curls. She’s lovely and her crown is truly glorious.

Anndi
Anndi
7 years ago

Like telling your butcher you’re giving up meat and expecting vegan recipes”

I burst out laughing at this part!! I realized very quickly that most hair stylists know jack squat about natural hair which is why you’re better off doing the journey YOURSELF! Great article, very inspiring.

D.K.
7 years ago

Loved the article and closing statement. So many hair stylists force their clients to do what they want them want to do instead of actually taking the time to listen and know them. We all need to not be afraid to walk out and ruffle some feathers, because in the end we have to live with the hair, not them. And I love how you realized patience is key. Black hair might demand more attention but the results far outweigh the sacrifice!

vertmoot.blogspot.com

Elaine
Elaine
7 years ago

I love this article! I always heard your hair is so thick and pretty only to be yelled at when my hair burned them! (Girl! Your hair holds heat!) HAHA! I too had the “nerve” to be tender headed!

RMA
RMA
7 years ago

Very nice article. Very encouraging and uplifting!

Geniece
7 years ago

i enjoyed this article. i can relate to the sentiment that sometimes our hair means more to those around us than it means to us. black hair can be a rather emotional aesthetic.

OrganicallyGrownCurls
OrganicallyGrownCurls
7 years ago

Love post. Your words are inspirational and thank you for sharing.

Just saying
Just saying
7 years ago

Oh woe is me..guess what some people have alopecia or thin hair that just wont grow..and youre complaining so how about you get over yourself smh

Marci
Marci
7 years ago
Reply to  Just saying

Everyone has their own story and this is her story. No woe is me!

Just saying
Just saying
7 years ago
Reply to  Marci

Yes it is a woe was i story its annoying how self absorbed and attention starved some people are on this site..she made sure to say it was prized and NO ONE else in her whooole family had long hair *rolls eyes* me me me how dramatic and attention whoring because she knows people will say “wow gorgeous hair” “i wish my hair was like yours” my new hair crush!!” yada yada dont act like im not speaking the truth..

Trini
Trini
7 years ago
Reply to  Just saying

As the above poster said, everyone has a story. I find writing to be cathartic. If you indeed do have alopecia, why not share your struggle? You can do it anonymously if you choose. I am sure that there are many who would identify with your struggle and empathise with you.

Anonty
Anonty
7 years ago
Reply to  Trini

I doubt she has alopecia, just sounds like an intolerant ignoramus. If you dislike this site so much, why not lower the blood pressure and log off. I got no bragging vibes from this story at.all.

deb
deb
7 years ago
Reply to  Just saying

chile quit projecting…

Kelcie
Kelcie
7 years ago
Reply to  Just saying

@ Just saying, I think you’re missing the point of the story. EVERYONE has a story to tell and this is her story. She’s not bragging or telling us how wonderful her hair is. She is just telling us about her struggles and trials with her hair. I’m sure I have a story and so do you. With long hair, short hair, relaxed hair, natural hair, texturized hair, color treated hair, damaged hair, healthy hair — there’s a story behind it all. Apparently YOU are the only one that has a problem because everyone else who read the same story… Read more »

D.P.
D.P.
7 years ago

What a fresh and heart felt article! This type of writing is the reason I fell in love with this website to begin with. I was starting to lose hope that there would only ever be “reworded” articles left because it seems that has been the majority of contributed work, just another ‘Ten hair products for natural hair’. This was good. This was well worth the read. You have beautiful hair and a beautiful talent for writing 🙂

Trini
Trini
7 years ago

This put a smile on my face. Your journey back to you is inspiring. Please do a part two and feel free to include more family photos, as the featured one spoke volumes to me.

luminous
luminous
7 years ago

beautiful!

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago

Lol at “I had “the nerve,” as one aunt one put it, “to be tender-headed and nappy.””

Maybe because people comb “nappy” hair like they’re mad at it! I ran from the comb as a kid. As an adult, I just learned to be more gentle with my hair.

@HelloMissHarper
7 years ago

Beautiful, inspiring story. 

My hair is my crown and long may it reign.” < spot on.

April
7 years ago

What a great story! I loved the way great grandma put it.

Shell
7 years ago

Happy that you now have embraced your hair, Kischa. Your hair is beautiful.

hairscapades
7 years ago

Love this!!

mariah b
mariah b
7 years ago

your hair is gorgeous! and I hated as a child when someone told me they couldn’t comb my hair because its “nappy”, um… No… you can’t comb my hair bcuz U DON’T KNOW HOW TO COMB NO DAMN HAIR!!! That was my reply when i was 5 yrs old lol

Nnnennaya
7 years ago

I total understand what you went through, Kischa.…I’ve had my own fair share of natual hair battles. But it has been and is still worth the journey. Glad you kept trying and now you’re enjoying the crown of your hair. May it continue to reign!*wink*
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Nne1.JPG[/img]

Mika
7 years ago

Beautiful, inspiring story!

Linda
7 years ago

I love this it was inspiring! I began my hair journey too and now love my hair:)
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/0411114701.jpg[/img]

Caresscurls
Caresscurls
7 years ago

When I went natural my mom tried to snatch through my thick curly dry hair with a rat tail comb I screamed no! She almost made me curse it hurt so much.

Mzjewels
Mzjewels
5 years ago

I have always had thick coarse 4c hair and it was way longer when I was little. My mom always tried to tell me my hair was my grandmother’s hair and that it was beautiful but as I grew up I wanted mixed girl hair because it was easier to manage. I didn’t start with perms but my mom hot combed my hair and it would be so thick and long but still she was the only one I would let do it even though it hurt to comb because like the writer I too was tender headed. I struggled… Read more »

Aliyah
Aliyah
5 years ago

As a kid, i always had shoulder length hair not long hair but my mom permed my hair before i turned 5. She said it was too thick too nappy too curly and unmanageable . I didnt go natural untill i was 18 and my hair is a little longer now after a year after my big chop . Im a 3c/4a. I love my thick curly nappy hair.

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