When I turned 14, I got my first chemical relaxer (for those who don't know, it's a product to straighten hair). Although I had to get a touch-up every 6-8 weeks, it seemed to make my hair life simpler. I could pretty much do what I wanted, when I wanted with my hair from day to day. I’m generally a low-maintenance type of girl, so relaxers fit my "comb it and go" life. Within the last year or so, I've had issues with extremely dry scalp, dandruff and breakage. It became uncomfortable to have relaxer crème anywhere near my scalp: tense burning sensations, scabbing, soreness. It was time to explore other options.
I decided to join the ever-growing legion of African-American women "going natural" (either wearing their natural texture or straightening their hair without chemicals). I started my "natural" life continuing to have my hair straightened; this time, my stylist was using just a flat iron and humidity blocker product (humidity and moisture can cause frizz; with a relaxer, reversion isn't much of a problem). Given it was summer and my home AC was broken, keeping the frizz away became nearly impossible. A week after visiting the salon, most of my hair was straight, but my roots and nape were frizzy and hard to comb through. As I began to ask around for tips on how to remain as laid as I was with a relaxer, I learned my choice to be relaxer-less was apparently a socio-political one. Before giving me any real suggestions and answering my inquiry, some friends went on tangents about how I needed to accept what "God gave me" and stop "fearing" the texture I was born with, insisting that I wear my hair curly and implying there was no way to keep my hair straight (not true). One friend went so far as to say I had a self-hatred problem because I liked my hair straight. You see, to give context for their remarks, black Americans have an ugly history with hair and beauty measures.