Actually, Braids are a Protective Hairstyle.
My hair is over 3 months old today. Yes, I know I said I would pack it in a hundred and one different hairstyles before I take them out and I know I said I’d take so many instagram worthy pictures with these braids but I did not exactly have the strength to do those things. My friends love to tease me about how I keep my hair for too long and when I loosen whatever braids I have at that time I get a sound chorus of ‘Finally’.
I always jokingly defend my stance with the fact that braids are a protective and versatile hairstyle anyways (which is completely true) and I can carry it till Thy kingdom come if I pleased and I never forget to add that I do not like anything that has to do with my hair and so loosening and getting a new hairstyle seems like so much work to me.
Despite the overall greatness of braids, I do not like to loosen them at all. Cutting the tips, a bit lower each time because I want to believe firmly my hair has grown, so I do not want to dull my own shine by mistakenly cutting the new length. And then using a pen, broomstick or tooth comb to poke into the heart of the braids to get them out without tangling my hair. I made loose knotless braids this time so it fairly easy actually but it still felt like hell.
Having my arms hurt in different places throughout the day because I want to change the look, perception and idea of me. It does not seem very worth it since I end up not liking any of those things at the end of the day anyways.
Full disclaimer; I have relaxed hair. Another obvious pointer that I truly could not be bothered about my hair. My mother relaxed my hair since I was a child old enough to relax my hair and then we cut it when I was 9 for boarding school, I must add that I cried hot tears that were not even worth it since I left the school after the first year.
After a while of relaxing my hair again I tried transitioning into natural hair a few years after and it actually almost took my life. I cried constantly when it was being combed or even touched at the roots because of how strong and full my hair was.
I wasn’t old enough or rather exposed enough to know the proper way to care for the forest that was on my head. I didn’t know about deep conditioning, detanglers, I didn’t even know the texture of my hair and to be honest I didn’t even want to know. I just wanted the pain in my hair to subside and subside fast. There was no amount of ancestoral validation enough for me to keep my natural hair and bear the awful pain. They would just have to continue to roll on their graves unfortunately as I cried my way back into the toxic European scheme of forcing my hair into straightness every single time.
I guess you could say it would have been easier to just cut my hair and start over but unfortunately length was very important to me at that time, my hair must touch my nose otherwise I was convinced I mistakenly cut it till I got my bairds in again. You can take the colonialists out of the country but their effects will still be scar deep. For years I checked the length ferociously, I didn’t even cut my split ends cause that would reduce the length, it was that bad.
This went on until I stopped caring all together — about the length, color, texture. I was very unbothered and only truly enjoyed my hair when it was made, braids with attachments or just normal twists, I am not a huge fan of wigs to be frank but I have a few which make this hair thing so much easier because all I needed were proper cornrows and I was good to go.
The childish truth is I felt like whenever my hair was undone someone was doing devious deeds in it especially while I was asleep and only braids could somehow stop whatever evil that could be. A protective hairstyle indeed.
At this very moment my hair is in big twists that I made for myself, this is the first time I am making my hair myself because I’ve been learning at a salon close to my grandma’s house so this hair I have on as I type this is actually a big win for me, they’re not perfect twists but they’re okay enough for me.
This might be because I don’t hate my hair as much as I used to and I have big and non-mother sanctioned plans for it. There’s a big chop somewhere in there and bleaching my brows red too. I’ve let go of length and have accepted the texture of my hair and it feels really good, my hair feels really good too.
I’m going to get a ponytail after these twists later in April and when I get my braids again I might actually just keep them till Thy kingdom come this time around.