My mother was not the most supportive of my initial decision to stop getting relaxers. “Are you sure Ashley?” she would cautiously warn me as she watched my curls grow in. “Yes mom, I’m sure,” I’d respond confidently, slightly hurt that she didn’t see what I chose to do as a great, positive thing. My mother is the reason I’d had a relaxer for so long anyway. When I was merely 3 years old, she walked me into a salon and permitted a texturizer in my hair. On my next visit, the texturizer was upgraded to a relaxer. From that point on, I received relaxers every 2-3 months until I was 23.5 years old.
That’s a LONG time to be brainwashed! My mother had raised me to believe the straighter my hair was, the better. If I saw a slight wave near my roots I would freak out and reach for the flat iron. It’s taken me awhile to get to the point that I prefer my curls over straightened hair so last night when I attempted my first roller set and my mother saw the fine-textured yet still curly results, she was sold on the “natural” idea.
I don’t understand why my mother gets relaxers in the first place. She has thin, extremely fine, hair. I would say her hair type is mainly 3A with a little 3B yet she’s sworn by mild-strength relaxers. I believe it’s a result of her conservative upbringing. She’s always believed in having finely coiffed hair, perfectly groomed eyebrows and an overall very put-together physical look. She views “natural” hair as being unkempt and unruly. I recently heard her refer to a woman with tight coils as having “nappy” hair.
So while my mother is now ready to attempt a roller set on her fine strands, my younger sister has also agreed to give relaxers a rest as well. For my sister, I believe she’s looking for a healthier option to maintain her hair length. A few years ago she began asking my mother, “Why doesn’t my hair lay down and move like yours and Ashley’s?” She’s since developed a “good” and “bad” hair mentality and it’s so important for her to understand that her hair is just as good as anyone else’s. I’ve begun showing her pictures of other women with a similar texture as hers (my sister’s hair texture closely resembles 4A and 4B whereas mine is around a 3C) and she now has begun experimenting with braid-outs which she loves.
Overall I’m so proud and happy for my mother and little sister for setting forth in this new endeavor. My first year definitely wasn’t the easiest, but with my knowledge and their own ideas on what works best for them I’m sure they will prove successful.