Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Another Hair Scare

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 9:00 AM

I'm now convinced something is seriously wrong with me. Only Fadda knows why every summer I have some kind of life-threatening encounter with false hair. Last year, it was eyelash extensions. This year, folks, I put in braids.... and is only by the grace of God why I'm living to tell the tale.

I've been having an identity crisis of sorts. For the past couple of months, my feelings for hairdryers have plummeted from dislike to hate. I've never been too fond of the chemical burns from relaxing my hair every month, either, so I upped and made the decision that I was going Team Natural.

It was a process that scared me, however. The transition from straight, smooth, silky tresses to my natural state would take a long time. The Internet was ripe with information and the literature suggested two ways I could approach the change: Either just grow my hair out until the creamed ends fell off over a couple of years, or grow it out for a few months and then 'big chop' the creamed ends off.

I didn't want to go straight to the big chop too early, convinced that super-short hair would make me look like a butch lesbian.

I also had fears about what my natural hair would look like. I haven't seen it since I got my first perm at seven or eight years old. Not remembering what the texture was like originally, my fear was that my hair would be too coarse. Too tough. Too, well, Negro. And I didn't think I could manage (or look pretty) with really 'Negro' hair.

It's a fear I expressed on social media, and between Facebook and Twitter almost 100 women came to my rescue with advice and encouragement that my hair - whatever the texture - was good enough.

Many also suggested I do protective hairstyles to help with the transition from cream to natural, and one that came up frequently was crochet braids.

The process required that I braid my own hair in big sections and crochet in pre-twisted plaits. This style was to have been much quicker to install than the traditional individual braids that could take anywhere between six hours and a whole day. Ain't nobody got time for that.

I watched about 50 videos online before I decided this was the way to go. It seemed pretty painless and I wouldn't have to worry about combing my hair for a good two months. I also had an upcoming five-week trip to the States for the Young Leaders of the Americas and needed a hairstyle that was maintenance-free. Crochet braids seemed like the 'lick'.

I got a recommendation for the best braids place in town and they instructed that I buy seven packs of hair. That seemed excessive to me, but hey, they were the experts.

To my horror, the cost of the seven packs of hair could feed a family of four until December. When the lady told me my bill, I had to ask if she was sure she was correct; and if the hair had super powers, like if it repelled mosquitoes or made a wicked chocolate tea.

I left the store clutching the hair bag tighter than my purse because, by then, it was my most valuable possession.

 

HELL BROKE LOOSE

 

I got to the famed braid store, they shampooed my hair and then all hell broke loose.

The chick began to braid my hair and I began screaming bloody murder. Mi mean mi call dung crowd. It felt like the woman was braiding my scalp. My actual scalp! I asked her how this was intended to be a protective hairstyle if she already was tearing my hair out with every plait. I told her, clearly, she didn't know what she was doing because she wasn't doing it like the people on YouTube.

The shop laughed. I did not.

I documented the torture in a Facebook video, because I was planning to sue and would need evidence to build my case. I endured two hours and 15 minutes of hell. And I hated the end result. It looked so fake.

That Friday, I cried real tears.

The hair was so tight, for the entire weekend I looked surprised. I looked like I was gonna say 'Ta Da Da' any minute now. And it was heavy. I felt like I was carrying around the weight of a small child from my scalp.

This hairstyle intended for two months, I wore as long as I could. By day four, it had to go! All of it. Not only did I remove the braids, but I braved butch lesbian and did the big chop after only four weeks of new growth.

I went from hating to even clip my shoulder-length hair to having near nothing on my head.

And I love it.

It's so easy. I simply wash it when I shower and head on out the door. It's worry-free and maintenance-free, and even thought it's coarse, I love it. There's a renewed self-confidence I feel with my new look, and I've never felt more myself. And mi head shape good.

For any other lady considering the natural move, it's a lot less scary on your head than in your head.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.