9 August 2011

Relaxers, just another black girl problem?

Over the last few weeks I have been discussing more and more , my reasons for going natural and listening to women discuss the pros and cons of natural hair versus relaxed hair. I often avoid talking about the topic on my blog as I'm not really into the whole “them versus us natural Nazi” tags.That is not really what this post is about, rather it's about why so many women have had bad relaxer experiences but continue to relax even with all the advancements in hair straightening to keep your hair smoother and sleeker without chemicals (if you so choose to want that).

I haven't had a relaxer in my hair since 2007, I can't remember the exact date of said 'last relaxer', but I know it wasn't off the back of some great epiphany or relaxer disaster.
However that doesn't mean that I have not had a relaxer disaster, I have had a few, none of which put me off getting several relaxers afterwards.
After scalp burns and and over processing I still relaxed, as that is just part and parcel of the relaxer experience, right?
Sitting in the chair head tingling, one should be thinking this s**t hurts, instead I'm thinking great! my hair is going to be super straight.
The worst experience I ever had with a relaxer was when I was 15, I went to a salon that my mother knew, she used a dark and lovely product, it was not a kiddie perm (like that makes a difference) it was a regular perm, all was well, my scalp was burning away, my hair was getting straighter and straighter (yippee!...) my hair was cut and finished into a style that was too old for my tender age and I went home swinging my locks, two hours later my entire body blew up, my face neck and back began to weep, I was having a major allergic reaction to the relaxer. Over the next week the top layer of my skin began to crack and peel, I was flaking dead skin all over the place (attractive!).
Instead of shunning relaxers my mother suggested I wait a while and switch brands (bless her!) from them on I avoided Dark and Lovely like the plague and switched to Affirm I  relaxed my hair regularly until I was 18 when I did my first big chop in my first year of university.
This stage lasted until 2006 when I decided bangs/a fringe would really benefit my look (it did not). It wasn't until early 2008 that I shunned relaxers for good, my scalp was dead and I really didn't like the look of straight hair on me. 
But recently I wonder if I hadn't found the natural hair community, with all the information I have learned to keep me on my journey, would I have relaxed my hair again...because that is just 'what we do'?
Regardless of the harm relaxers can cause, and the caustic ingredients used to make up this product we knowingly put onto our heads, even when we have a bad reaction many of us go right back and repeat the pattern. Many knowledgeable black women will not eat anything that isn't organic but will quite happily apply this harsh mix of chemicals to their scalp.

I'm not claiming that relaxed hair can not appear healthy, and when administered by qualified stylist problems can be minimised. I'm debating the reality of these chemicals effects over time, and why so many of us knowingly burn ourselves, literally.
So tell me is it just a lack of information? or habit that keeps a lot of women addicted to the creamy crack?

I must add I'm not saying that women should not get relaxer (ok well I kind of am) I'm just questioning why when we have a bad experience we do not learn from it?

Over to you......


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