Perfect Hair Forever: Is 4C Not Good Enough?

hair2I’m still struggling to find my place at work. While most of the other cashiers joke around with each other I generally keep to myself, smiling sheepishly when someone speaks to me but not initiating any more conversation for fear of seeming strange. And despite this ritual, I still managed to make one friend… of sorts—a spunky young woman who, for the better half of my employment, took me under her wing. Despite her being the same age as I am she seemed so much older which led me to look up to her as a big sister figure. It has been this way for a couple of weeks now, so naturally I took it to heart when she made one disheartening comment about my hair.

Yesterday at work I was sweating up a storm. My feet were hurting and my hands were covered with meat juice from sliding badly packaged bins of steak across a disobedient scanner. It was a breakless day of swatting flies away from my face and I had already gotten into arguments over potato prices with four different old people. I was beat to say the least. And despite my daily attempt to keep the fresh face makeup vibe going on, I looked like trash.

But I had to deal with one other annoyance throughout the day. My big sister figure (and I’ll just call her Big Sister throughout the rest of the article) spent any free time she could helping me bag the groceries of my lazy patrons. Oh, but not without a word or two.

The dialogue began when she asked me if I moisturized my hair. I said yes in a heartbeat and my wallet could attest to my claim. I was a hair DIY junkie who was willing to try any old thing to keep my hair feeling soft and supple. When I was seventeen I read something on the internet about a hair mask made out of egg whites and honey, and like the little fool I was, I tried it out. One steamy shower later, I emerged from the bathroom with eggs fried, yes fried in my hair. A few months later I went on an avocado kick and decided that hey, if I liked to eat these things so much and there were shampoos on the market claiming to be infused with them why not just put some in my hair? Don’t get me wrong, all of my hair escapades were not nearly as strange as the ones spoken of above. I’ve been the traditional product junkie too, jumping from SheaMoisture to Cantu to Carol’s Daughter. Nothing worked for me the way I wanted it to.

Despite my attempt to explain my product stories, Big Sister took a look at my hair, shook her head, and expressed to me that she just didn’t believe that I did anything to my kinky, 4c hair. She then followed up with a patronizing “I’mma help you.”

I continued my work and tried to forget about the exchange before she came up to me again.

“So you don’t try to put any curl activators in your hair?”

I told her that they only worked when my hair was sopping wet.

“What about twist-outs?”

I told her that I just preferred to pick my hair out into a fro.

“Are you mixed with anything?” This question perplexed me because despite my shade of brown being lighter than hers I didn’t look (or feel) like anything other than black. I asked why she asked and she told me that she was simply curious and that she was Puerto Rican and black which is why she had such “good-ass hair.”

She then told me—and this was what really unsettled me—that I needed a texturizer.

“You’re going to college,” she said. “For people who don’t know you… your hair as it is now is kind of…” She didn’t finish her thought, but I already disagreed with her. I seemed to make friends well enough and none of them—even my best of friends—said anything negative about my hair.

I have been unsuccessfully natural for three years. I say unsuccessfully because I am still not completely happy with my hair journey. But I don’t think a lot of people are. I have just gotten to a point where I can accept my hair texture. When I first began the journey I was striving for those “flawless” curls that mixed models sported on predominantly white commercials and back then I did consider a texturizer. The entire time I was miffed about my lack of length retention and out-of-whack curl pattern.

At one point I was so ashamed of my hair that I had to hide it. I began to integrate head wraps into my daily outfits. And even though I thought I looked totally fetch I couldn’t help but be a little upset over the afro that I was hiding in cornrows under cheap silk.

I eventually turned to braid extensions which were pretty much the best thing to happen to my head ever because I wear braids and twists VERY well. But in the back of my mind I was still pissed about the condition of the old afro. It wasn’t until my last braid cutting that I decided to reform my hair care ritual and focus on moisturization and getting rid of split ends. I felt pretty good about this for a while and my confidence wasn’t really unsettled until the encounter with Big Sister.

As I walked home that night I convinced myself that what she said had no real impact on me. But it did. I mean, I’m writing an entire article about it, aren’t I? The next morning, I thought about how I could make my hair curlier. Despite how soft my hair was from my regular ritual it still looked dry, and in a frantic attempt to “beautify” myself I reached in the back of my cabinets for the old experimental failures, dumping every curl activator I could find onto my scalp, rinsing and re-rinsing until my hands were dry and prune-like and I was reduced to a blubbering mess smashing some hair story onto the keyboard of my laptop about my hopes of having “Perfect Hair Forever” (if you get that reference you get brownie points). And all of this is going on two hours before I have to go to work.

I’d like to say that I’m writing this to express some firm opinion or piece of advice that can help guide the rest of you along. But I’m pretty sure I’m writing this to stop myself from doing any more stupid things to my hair. And maybe get a little bit of support and help.


Lauren About Lauren
The creator of the site. Read her posts and comment so that she doesn't cry or something.

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