Hair memories and my first relaxer

Originally published 23 August 2010

When I was little I had quite long hair. I have memories of me sitting, waiting impatiently wriggling around whilst my mother struggled to do my hair. I remember when she got annoyed at me she used give me a hard tap in the back head with the hair brush to get me to sit still. Even though she was a working single mother (who had relaxed hair herself), she would still take the time out to braid or cornrow my young natural hair. And as result of time spent looking after my hair, it grew long thick and strong.

My mum didn't believe (and still doesn't) in putting relaxer in to young heads, no matter what it said on the box. I think one situation that made her come to that decision; is when she went to get her hair relaxed when she was pregnant with me and the hairdresser refused to process her hair for 'health and safety' reasons. Which I guess should send alarm bells ringing...

I've only realised recently how many black girls get their hair relaxed when they're still very young and their hair follicles are still in developement stages. A lot of mothers say they chose the relaxed route for their child hair because it's 'easier', 'quicker' or 'more manageable'. However, from my knowledge of relaxers, I'd say it require the same amount of care/time and that natural hair is manageable if you have the knowledge. In fact I remember spending more time on my relaxed hair, finding ailments for all the problem that it caused - dry scalp, dandruff, breakage, thinning, itchy scalp, chemical burns, etc. Others say it's because their little girls ask for them.

I was only when I was 15 I had my first relaxer, my mum never allowed it before that age. I had wanted the relaxer because I wanted to look cool like the girls in the magazines and I thought my natural hair looked too childish. I was happy with relaxed hair which allowed me to fit in with everyone else. Now I wish I continued to grow my natural hair, just imagine how long it could've been by now (my relaxed had terminal length of shoulder length, it would break off before it would get longer).

Here are some more photos I dug up from around my house...

So I just wanted to ask; What age did you get your first relaxer? Did you ask for your first relaxer as a child? How do you feel about kiddie perms?

By the way check out this article;When Kiddie Perms Go Wrong: A Little Girl's Hair Trauma (

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