Last week, Twitter was buzzing with the trending topic #ChildhoodMemories. As I was reminiscing on moments from my younger years, one reoccurrence I try hard to forget came to mind.

#ChildhoodMemories Getting my hair done as a young girl. The pain, the agony!

Every two weeks, it was time. My once freshly done braids were fuzzy, nappy and ready to be taken out. I tried to keep them up as best as possible in hopes to delay the inevitable. However, the moment always came.

Each time I would have to sit between my mother’s legs for that sole purpose, a feeling of dread would pass throughout my entire body. My mother would try to be gentle with my thick tresses, trying to comb lightly; but the pain never ceased from existing. Even with the use of hair sprays, detanglers and conditioners, the sting from the comb seemed deadly. There was nothing left for me to do but cry. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I screamed, I hollered, and I occasionally jumped away from my mother’s hands. “Momma, it hurts!” She would reply with “I’m Sorry,” only to bring me more pain seconds later.

Getting my hair done was such an emotional experience. It was emotional for me, just as it was emotional for my mother. She hated to see me in pain, and tried to do all that she could to prevent my cries and yelps. As time went on, her sympathy turned into aggravation. My constant outbursts were tiring and prevented her from finishing my hair. By the time my hair was done, I had run out of tears, and my mother had run out of patience. How could we put ourselves through all of that stress?

When I think back on the times my mother did my hair, I think about the future, where the roles will be reversed. One day, my daughter will be sitting between my thighs, and I will be doing her hair. Chances are she will inherit my thick curls and tender headedness, leaving me with the unfortunate task of having to manage it all.

I want to do my daughter’s hair, but I don’t want her to go through the same agony that I went through. Can this situation be avoided, or is this just another inevitable circumstance that black women have to face when it comes to our hair?

Let me know what you think!

– Chelsey Wilkins

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  • So cute

    I don’t comb my daughter’s hair often because she hurts so much when I do it. So I put it in two-strand twists, moisterize, seal with coconut oil and bun it. He hair is kinky and it is waist-length as a result. I don’t have time, nor the patience. But leaving it alone, works for us.

  • Vee

    I think that hair styling and maintenance is emotional for all of us women!I dont have good memories of getting my hair done as a child either. My mother couldn’t do hair-she still can’t to this day, So my grandmother did my hair when I was a child. It stayed neatly and tightly braided for two weeks. Then every 2nd Saturday Mom or Grandma would wash it, let it air-dry and braid it. That Sunday I was sitting on a (crock) pot in the kitchen getting my big thick hair straightened and my scalp greased. I HATED the process but loved the outcome. Still the feel of the intense heat coming off of that hot-comb, the smoke, the smell, and the anxiety of feeling that heat near my neck almost killed me EVERY-time I got my hair straightened. But looking back on it now, I gotta say my hair was healthy and full. I had nappy, super-short and weird hair as a toddler. By the time I was 9 yrs old it was in the middle of my back and all of my freinds marveled at it. Now that I’m grown and have done so much (chemical and weave) damage to it, m trying to regain that same healthy hair & length I had as a child–but minus the pain, heat and drama of my youth. If God blesses me with daughters I dont know what we’ll do but I know we WON’T do what was done to me: no pain, harsh heat, or super-tight braids. One problem in our community is that–at least in my day, adults controlled everything: they didn’t really listen to their kids’ input or asked how they felt, do you like this, does it hurt, what do you want, etc. I will be more willing to listen to my kids and their feedback–about everything including their hair.

  • passionate1

    Once I went natural and learned how to properly detangle my hair I realized that my mother (and other female family members) were doing it ALL WRONG. They combed my hair DRY (a big NO NO), and they didn’t use the proper products (and yes,the correct products existed). Water was often avoided and it could have helped TREMENDOUSLY. It wasn’t their fault really. Because of the prevalence of relaxers and, to some extent, the desire to fit in with the dominant culture, we have several generations of African-American women who don’t know how to handle the hair that comes out of their heads. A relaxer was seen as a chance to save time and anguish…but at what cost? Hopefully future generations will learn how to properly manage their tresses. Perhaps their childhood memories of hair care will be more pleasant than ours. :)

  • Jess

    My 2 year old daughter is the most tender headed child I have ever seen. She litearlly screams, wiggles, runs, or even stands on her head to avoid even getting her hair brushed. Yes, I said brushed! My first child was pretty much bald until she was two, so I was excited that my second child was born with a full head of hair. I was excited to braid, bow, and bead it up. LOL. Now Im lucky if I can get one puffy ponytail in. Im even ashamed sometimes when I take her out because people think Im just too lazy to do her hair. I can deal with crying, but this child just refuses to stay still. Ive gotten advice like doing it while she sleeps, loading up on conditioner, distracting her with tv or candy, popping her, or holding her down just dont work on my poor baby. I cant even imagine what its going to be like when she’s older. :/

  • minna k.

    I had a too hot blow dryer burn lines into my arm, when my mother accidentally dropped on me. It stayed there for years.