Is Your Hair Choice a Form of Self Abuse?

Crazy really is doing the same thing and expecting different results!  Each week I am amazed at the number of women who tell me that their hair is thinning or falling out…but they decided to get another perm…before seeking a natural solution.  I have to be diplomatic…but I swear—I feel like screaming because of the sheer pain I feel from hearing these stories.   It’s beginning to seem like a mental illness with which we’re plagued.

It is amazing to me how extensive the stronghold of using relaxers is that seems to dominate so many sisters.  I mean…think about it:  You see your hair is falling out, you let it grow out for a few months and then whether it gets better or not…something in your mind tells you, “Try the perm just one more time to see how it goes”.    Lord, have mercy—what is the logic in this kind of thinking?   It’s down right abusive what we do to our hair and scalp.   And then we professionals have to try and work magic with so little to work with…

Just as I wouldn’t want to see you abuse any other part of your body, it saddens me to see and hear the way sisters are abusing their hair and scalp.  There is such thing as self-abuse that includes cutting oneself, flagging, and other forms of self-mutilation.   And if I were a psychotherapist, I would have to include relaxing one’s hair to the point of damage as another form of self-abuse.  And as we’ve all heard before—self-abuse is directly connected to self esteem, or the lack thereof.

Now some may say that I’m taking this too seriously or too far, but if they’d seen and heard what I’ve seen and heard as a decades-experienced hair artist and consultant—they wouldn’t think so.

I do have to applaud many sisters for finally coming through because there are some other women who will not seek alternative / natural methods regardless of the damage, they decide not to break their relationship with relaxers no matter what.

I’m just saying, “Sisters don’t wait until it’s too late.  Don’t even wait until you feel you have no other options.  See the light earlier and get to us sooner than later.”

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23 responses to this post.

  1. HI, My name is Tosha Langston and I have locs already and I would like them to be longer, would I be able to get sisterlocks?

    Reply

    • Dear Tosha,

      If you already have Locs, Sister Locks won’t make them longer, you’d have to get Loc Extensions to get them longer. However, depending on the size of your current Locs you can have your new growth tightened with the Sister Lock method.

      Reply

  2. Not having a natural hair style has more to do with how natural hair is being perceived by many; it’s not considered, sophisticated or beautiful. Let’s face it, most female black role models don’t have their natural hair. If they do, there often not considered ‘beautiful’ Have you asked these women why they let their hair suffer and why they don’t choose for a natural hair style?

    Reply

    • I hear what you’re saying and there’s a lot that I’m attempted to say. But I want to nurture these sisters and not point a finger at them. By the time they come to me they’re either resigned, ready, or have seen the light. So I don’t want to harp on their past “mistakes”. Instead, I focus on what can be done in the present and the future.

      Reply

      • Posted by Donna on February 8, 2010 at 9:51 am

        If I may chime in also, I think part of it is us giving into that perception, the more people that do the more acceptable it becomes for every on looker to think the way that they do. We didn’t (as black people) begin to see ourselves as unattractive until someone told us we were, we started to believe what the majority had to say.

        Feeding into that perception has caused (many of) us to lose the ability to accept and love our own beauty. I’ve read comments from girls who has decided to go natural saying that their boyfriends broke up with them because of it or they didn’t leave but prefer their hair long and straight. But you’re a black male with the same hair texture how could you not love it on her as well? Yet although these are black men saying this, they’ve seen more black woman with perms, weaves, etc. than natural hair so it’s like what do you expect. I saw a video where this woman shared how weave secrets,she pays a ton of money for it, said she wouldn’t go without it and that her husband doesn’t even know it’s not her real hair.

        Yet on another note I have locs and I get more male attention than I’ve ever gotten in my life! Same thing when I had my TWA it always surprises me. I say may have some to do with my location and natural hair is just more accepting now than in later times I’m not sure but there are men who like women natural and it can be a fight but have to forget those that don’t and the more of us that are natural the more the mindset will change.

        And not knocking weaves and things of that nature I can’t condone perms any more for the same reasons Anu brought up this topic but essentially saying I don’t see it as an issue if a woman decides to change up her natural hair and I think it’s a beautiful option that we have. However I think it’s important to break away from it being a permanent part of our identity and allowing others to define us in that way.

        Reply

  3. As a retired hairstylist of over eleven years, it’s amazing to me how many women want to wear their hair in certain styles KNOWING the damage it will cause.

    I think people need to remember that they should never short-change the health of their hair for short-term goals.

    I noticed your blog from another favorite blog of mine, and I love it!

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply

    • Thank you Katrina,

      I would love to hear Dr. Joy DeGruy’s (formally known as Dr. Joy Leary) take on this from her perspective of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, and how it still manifests itself in our lives today. Because clearly this is a form of self abuse, low self esteem and a lack of appreciation of one’s own heritage and culture.

      Reply

      • Posted by Shay on February 8, 2010 at 11:40 pm

        I completely and whole heartedly agree with you and would love to hear someone speak on this matter. It’s a topic that needs to be discussed and something black folks should hear. Most black women believe that relaxing has nothing to do with self hate but I know it does. Honestly who changes something that they love or are satisfied with? This is not to say we can’t every now and then straighten our hair. That’s called style. Now when it comes down to “I perfer straight hair” then there is a problem. Now I’m not saying afro curly hair doesn’t have its ups and downs but honestly what hair doesn’t? The point is that if you love something enough you take the good with the bad and deal with it.

        We have been relaxing out of (a self dislike) habit for so many decades that WE think (even black men) it’s what you’re supposed to do. We have failed to realize that it started out from the need to fit in and appear more so like “the man” (at the time) . This is where that “you won’t be able to get a job” line comes from. Our ancestors spent their lives trying to please, appease, and fit in. Its only logical that the slave mentality was passed down to us and without us even realizing so.

        OT- I have a question for you Anu. I want to buy a hair steamer to condition with only. Will the cheaper steamers NOT condition my hair just as good as the more expensive ones (pibbs) or is all steam the same no matter how much the unit cost???

        Oh and I love love love the khamit kinks website! The styles on there are to drool for! I WILL be getting a Tshirt and my hair DONE at your salon someday. Those sideways comb coils are the BUSINESS! Made me wish I had a twa for a hot minute. The small pixies in a bob. Hot hot hot!!! the chaka khan… the micro flat twist. Ahhh…I could go on and on and on. lol

        Reply

        • Hi Shay,
          Sounds like right knowledge! In terms of a steamer, most of them are good. A more expensive steamer is necessary for professionals because of the volume, the number of clients using the steamer. For at home use, I don’t think it’s necessary to invest in an expensive steamer.

          Glad to know you like our styles and appreciate the website. We look forward to seeing you when you make it in to us.

          Take care,
          ~Anu

          Reply

  4. When I think of all the damaging styles, bad weaves, too frequent perms and all the ill-informed stylists of my past, I would agree..I was crazy!! For most of my late teens and early twenties, getting “something” done to my hair every week was norm for me.

    At 21, by the persuasion of my beautician, I went to the dermatologist to inquire about a small bald spot in my crown. Not knowing what to expect, it was terrifying when I learned a biopsy needed to be performed. I remember lying on the hospital bed and feeling the pressure of the scapel on my scalp-it was too intense and I never went back, not even to have the stiches removed!

    Ten years later, I found out that I had been diagnoised with scarring alopecia and that small spot had spread to the size of my palm-which is akin to a scarring alopecia named CCCA. I have been natural six of the past ten years and have learned so much about hair care and about myself. With the help of a great dermatologist, my crown has partially grown in-I am believing God for the rest!

    If you notice thinning or balding of any porportion please STOP THE INSANITY and get some help from a professional ASAP–you are worth it 🙂

    Reply

  5. Posted by Lake Fisher on January 19, 2010 at 11:15 am

    I wore weaves and perms for many years as a teen. It was pushed on me as a “requirement” even though my hairline was breaking and my hair was falling out!

    Thankfully, I made the decision to go natural in college and couldn’t be happier. I look at my natural, kinky hair and, at times, cry at how beautiful I feel. Especially, when I was made to feel so ugly for it growing up. I’m 26 now and want to get the hairstyle I see on Tracie Thoms but I live in Texas =( lol

    Question! What make up/foundation are you wearing in photos? Your skin looks amazing! This site is really helpful. Thanks! =)

    Reply

  6. Hi Anu,
    As a sister in Atlanta, and finally seeing the light light. I have chosen to be relaxer free for 5 months now on my way to being natural. Is there anything I can do to stop so much breakage and What happened to Khamit Kinks here in Atlanta?
    Thnak you for your response
    Wanda

    Reply

    • Hi Wanda,
      One way to stop the breakage is to wear styles that don’t require daily grooming. This could be braids, twists, sets, like a straw set or even weaves. Trying to groom to distinctively different textures, each requiring its own methodology for thriving is tricky.

      Khamit Kinks in Atlanta closed many years. The owner Ruth Sinclair, relocated to Miami.

      Reply

  7. Posted by Cyndi on January 28, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I have had thin locks for about 3 years. I have always colored my hair. I believe that my locks should be longer than they are. Lately, I have noticed that locks have been getting thin about 1 inch from the bottom and then that inch just eventually breaks off. Is it from the color? I exercise and sweat heavily in my hair (hair is dripping wet) My edges are fine, I do not have any breakage there. Do you have any suggestions.

    Reply

    • Hi Cyndi,
      Yes, coloring your hair is an excellent recipe for dryness and breakage. Locs are naturally dry; and chemically processing your hair robs the moisture from your hair all the more. So when dying Locs you increase their chances of them breaking off from being too dry. The older hair that has been dyed the most and has the least amount of moisture is at the ends of your hair and that is why the ends are popping off. I would recommend giving the color thing an indefinite break.

      Reply

  8. Posted by Yolanda Lenzy on January 30, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Hello Anu,

    I am a dermatology resident in Boston with a special interest in ethnic hair and scalp disorders and I am a sister! I treat the clients that you likely see for medical treatments from hair loss which has developed as a result of years of relaxers, prolonged traction (from braids, locs) and other hair care practices. While viewing your gallery of pics, I see that your salon does very beautiful work. I am very interested in partnering with stylists like yourself with a passion to see sisters achieve healthy hair and stop the practices which sabatoge this. My question to you is are you seeing Traction Alopecia (bitemporal hair loss) present in your clients given that some of the loc and braided styles appear to be placing the follicles under tremendous tension?

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Reply

    • Dear Yolanda,
      Because of our policy of caring for the health of our client’s hair and scalp, we haven’t had any problems with traction alopecia except with those who don’t follow our instructions, hence the blog post.

      I wish you all the best.

      Reply

  9. Posted by Laurae on February 1, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Greetings, Anu!
    Very well written. Very powerful words. I can relate to each sentence in more ways than you could ever imagine.
    I’ve recently journeyed “from relaxed to natural.” It’s been almost a year with no relaxer. Indeed, it has been both a physical and an emotional journey. I recall my parents telling me, “You had such pretty hair; we shouldn’t have relaxed it, but it was just too thick. We couldn’t do anything with it.”
    As far back as I can remember I had a relaxer. For the first time, I am all natural and I had no idea how my hair texture would change! I never knew my hair could be so soft, so thick, but also so very wooly. My hair is now a soft, thick, medium fro, but I have no clue how to take care of it and it’s so very frustrating! It almost feels like a soft wooly rug. Feels great to the touch, but not so great when it comes to upkeep/styling. I’d like to grow my fro out and wear it in one big puff on top of my head (a trendy, but also professional look). Can I achieve this without wearing the twists and/or cornrows?
    Moreover, is there any way you could refer me to someone in the Memphis, TN area who is as skilled and experienced as you? I have no intent to return to a relaxer, however, I could really use some hands on help with my afro when it comes to products specific to my hair type and how to properly maintain my fro (i.e.: trimming, styling, etc).
    Oh, how I wish you were local! Since you are not local, any assistance you can provide me would be very much appreciated! 🙂
    Again, thank you for the wonderful article.
    Sincerely,
    “From Relaxed to Natural.”

    Reply

    • Dear Laurae,
      Thank you for the compliments and for sharing your natural hair journey with us all. Yes, it is definitely a pleasurable experience to feel the complex, soft and cushy texture of your own naturally kinky hair. More and more I’m finding that folks just want to reach out and touch my hair. It’s magnetic and naturally beautiful. You are going to have to do your homework to find the Stylist who is right for you, understands your vision for your hair and has the skill set to create what you are trying to achieve.

      If your hair is long enough you can wear it in an Afro puff without twist and or cornrows. In terms of a referral I did see two natural hair Stylist listed on The Coil Review salon directory.

      Best of luck and let me know how it goes.

      Reply

  10. Posted by Venita on February 8, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this post. Anu, I learn so much from you.

    Recently, I have seen several commercials showing African American women with natural hairstyles. I don’t see it as much in the movies. Hollywood still needs to be educated.

    The way we wear our hair also depends on where we live. The big cities have several natural hair salons, but many of the smaller towns do not have as many options. I’ve been wearing twist extensions for years. I do them myself. I don’t have trouble with Alopecia, though. I’m not that great of a braider, so I can’t get them tight enough to do any damage:-) I do have thinning hair and have considered locs, but I don’t believe I have enough hair to have a full head of locs. I may look into loc extensions.

    Reply

    • Dear Venita,
      Advertisers are much more savvy with tuning in to who their audience is and capitalizing on that audience. Hollywood is another story…

      I have seen your question many times and it’s really a misunderstanding to think that adding Loc extensions to thinning hair will properly address the situation. This usually exacerbates the condition. It’s challenging for me to assess the situation without seeing your hair, because every situation is different. You can send me some photos of your hair and we can go from there. Send the photos to info@khamitkinks.com

      Reply

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