Sunday, 16 December 2012

Hair Today - Part 2

I wonder if, when the pony evolved a tail, it had any sense how important its rear end would become in women’s hair styling. The pony tail is still the go-to safety measure for those ‘hair don’t’ day. If hats and wigs were more socially acceptable, looking like a horse’s arse wouldn't stand a chance but for now, the pony tail is our most agreeable get-out.

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
A few days later, I was sat in the hairdressers chair saying words I never thought I’d utter. “I wanna go short”. I swear, the music stop playing, conversations paused, I think the traffic ceased for a moment.
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 a few months, I decided this wasn't short enough and went for a proper crop. I was on a roll. And much to my surprise it was even easier to style than the previous cut. This started me on the road of changing my hair style regularly.

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 didn't even have to go to the hair dressers. No siree. I was strictly a barber girl which meant I could get my hair cut any time of the day or night. I don’t know why black barbers stay open so late but they do and it suited me just fine.

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
Eventually, I started letting my hair grow back and that’s when I really got into experimenting. Once I’d found a set of straighteners that worked for me, I couldn't be stopped. I also started dyeing my hair, cutting it myself, gave myself some blond highlights. I was on fire. You might have seen a few of my experiments. Indeed, when I do Mock The Week I make sure I've got different hair each time so if someone comments on the show, I say, what did my hair look like? Blond streaks and a fringe? Oh that was September 2010” - It's my form of carbon dating. Over time though, my hair, as thick and hardy as it was, started to suffer. When I washed my hair, great clumps would fall out.

Me and my Mike Tyson barnet
Afroblighty publicity photo
It was time to see my hairdresser again - urgently. Apparently, I’d been doing everything Afro hates. Spritz sprays, peroxide and texturisers had reeked havoc. I starting seeing her once a month and with deep conditioning treatments eventually it was restored to its former state.

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 
Now I'm in the process of growing it and I reckon longer hair might suit me. I can’t bring myself to get a weave though. It feels like lying, like you have a massive fib on your head and it grims me out when I see a woman itching her three-month old weave with a pen. I don’t want to be that woman.

Hair Today
Ironically, when straightened, my hair’s now long enough for the beloved pony tail but because I've gotten to know it better, I've learnt to be much more creative so don’t often need it which is very nice. It’s only taken 7 years!

Randy Watson! 

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I've just got to get the nerve to venture to the hairdresser!


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