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I have curls that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil:
(For more close up pictures of the size of my curls, check out Hair Shots.) As my hair has grown, the ends weigh down the rest of my hair. However, if I were to cut it short again, I’d have a tight afro (and I spent many years of my life with one).
This is how my hair used to look before I figured out what it needed.
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Ever since I was a child I wanted long flowing hair to toss dramatically over my shoulders. I’d stare at girls with long hair and wonder how it was they could get theirs so long, and so effortlessly, when it seemed my family struggled for every inch of growth on mine.
Throughout adolescence I relaxed my hair, and it broke off in thousands of little pieces over my shoulders. I was so frustrated and jealous of people with their straight hair. It seemed they could do anything and just run a comb through theirs. Mine on the other hand, even chemically straightened to the point it was breaking off, still took hours to comb and put up in curlers after washing it. I ended up in tears nearly every time I had to wash it.
The problem was that I kept trying to force my hair to look like everyone else’s hair. And it didn’t help that I was living in an all white family, in an all white neighborhood, in a 98% white school. My hair made me acutely aware that I was "other", and it felt like I had a nest on my head while those around me got to have hair. I felt such deep shame because of it.
Because I felt that my hair was my enemy, I punished it viciously. I relaxed it frequently, and had scabs all over my head. At one point I managed to dissolve it. I’ve had my hair in every color and about every style, including straight, very short, weaves, braids, extensions and texturized. Still, nothing I did would get it to grow, and it was always unpredictable and broken.
I felt I’d tried everything and nothing had worked. Then one day I found Lonnice Brittinum Bonners book: Good Hair. If she could grow out her hair (though she still used a texturizer), I knew I should give it a try. And I did. It finally grew long, but was still unpredictable. In wind, rain and humidity, it turned into a large dark cloud. But I was encouraged by the length, and I loved how it felt. It was soft instead of crunchy. So I kept experimenting, and found the techniques I want to share with any other very curly person.
Now I love my hair. People come up to me all the time to tell me they haven’t seen hair like mine. I finally got my long hair to throw over my shoulders.
On the site I have my main tips. The book will have lots more in-depth instructions, tips, styles, photos and original illustrations.
Please feel free to send in
any before and after photos if you try the techniques--they may end up on the site, or in the book.