At a certain point in my life, I was still getting relaxers but questioning myself about why I was subjecting myself to the process. As I’ve mentioned before, hair is linked to femininity and attractiveness. I remember I was at a local DC club (Zei Club in Zei Alley…yes, I’m showing my age as I’ve heard the club has long since been gone). I had just gotten my hair relaxed that morning but it had come out too straight so I put on a cute hat. I met a handsome guy and after talking, dancing, and exchanging numbers he reached up uninvited and pulled my hat off of my head. He then said something to express his relief that I didn’t have a knotty head of hair. I was stunned. I mean, “REALLY!? REALLY?!” The nerve! Anyone who knows me (especially my guy friends I grew up with), is probably waiting for me to say that I clocked him in the head right on the spot. I didn’t. Instead, I was relieved that I’d gotten my hair relaxed because if he’d seen my hair, oh, 14 hours earlier, he’d likely have ripped up my phone number and walked away.
Perhaps I continued to get relaxers because I thought that I’d be unattractive to Black men if they saw me in my natural state? I’m NOT saying that all Black men want women with straight hair. I am saying that in the mid-1990s when I was dating, it seemed like the “in look” was long straight hair. Hits like “Bump and Grind”, “That’s the Way Love Goes”, “Weak” and “Whoomp There it Is” filled the air waves and the women dancing in the videos had weaves down their backs. It was only a matter of time before I noticed more and more women wearing similar styles. My girlfriends and I lamented the fact that we were single despite being attractive, educated, kind people. It felt like there were eight Black women for every one Black man because almost every woman I knew was single while every guy I knew had two, three or even ten “girlfriends”. When I reflect back and think about the high demand for men and the sense that my natural hair might put me out of the “running” (not to mention perceived convenience, style, family input, etc.), it is understandable why I continued to get relaxers. Not making excuses, just trying to understand my thinking at the time.
Yet, my hair continued to fall out. This was a time when I was grateful for thick, thick hair because I just had to style my hair in a certain way and the alopecia bald spot was covered. After a while though, the insanity of the situation made me rethink my relationship with my hair. Heck, my relationship with ME.