For many years, I was terrified of cutting my hair shorter than pony tail length. Whenever I got my hair trimmed, I flinching like my hair had nerve endings. Ever millimetre is precious and every black hairdresser knows she must approach the subject of a trim like a lion approaching a gazelle. No sudden movements. You don’t want to startle your prey. You have to sidle up. “Oh, you've got some split ends...” then wait for the reaction.
There is no more paranoid a creature than a black woman who has allowed someone to take scissors to their mane. All over the world, in tens of languages, there are Nubian sisters barking at their stylists, “That isn't half an inch!” Afro-Caribbean hair can be so problematic to grow it becomes a precious commodity, one we are not willing to surrender easily. I was no different until, one day something changed.
I had an epiphany, an hair-piphany if you will. I realised that the reason I was having so much difficulty with my hair was that I was in this constant state of warfare with it. I refused to accept its true nature. I was relaxing it and tonging it and then getting annoyed when it didn’t become the style I wanted. Sleek and straight. It was almost as though the more I battled, the more my hair went, ‘You can’t deny me. I'm like Mike Tyson – big, black and dense!’.
|Look Mum, no pony tail|
This was it. From this day forth, every day I'd actually have to, you know, ‘do’ my hair, like style it and shit. The difference this time was, I embraced what my hair was. You know, Mike Tyson.
Far from being troublesome, it turned out to be a blessing. I loved finally having an actual hair style – a look - even if it was, newsreader.
|Trust me, I'm a doctor|
After years of putting relaxers into my hair, I decided, enough enough. I grew tired of spending £50, £60 sometimes £80 a go and elected to get the whole lot loped off. I went for a no.2 and kept that for a good 18 months.
What a revelation that was. For the first time in my life, doing my hair took three earth minutes. I could wash my hair every day. It was dry in seconds and didn't need anything doing to it.
|Exercise is such a laugh!|
I loved not enduring those harsh chemicals and to meet my hair in its true natural state, something I hadn't seen for a long time. As I let my hair grow out, I discovered I had ringlets. I’d been straightening my hair for 15 years and never knew.
|Art house, daaahling|
|Me and my Mike Tyson barnet|
|Afroblighty publicity photo|
I wasn't done experimenting though. Next I dyed it red then burgundy then, probably after seeing Rihanna on something, I marched back to my new salon, Envy and insisted on an undercut. Wow, word to the wise. They take a LONG time to grow out. To take the edge off that ‘look’ Barbara my stylist bleached the undercut blond and added the two streaks I have today.
|Don't mess with me. It took an|
hour to straighten this hair