I am black. I do not have any -chemicals in my hair to keep it straight. I have been ‘natural’ my entire life,
So, when I straighten my hair, it is a long, tedious and very hot process.
I wash and blow dry my hair in small sections, which means the 1875 Watt blow dryer is on and off from up to 30 minutes.
Then, once the room cools down a little, I straighten my hair…with a 400-degree temp flat iron. The process takes up to 2 hours if I want good results.
So yea it gets hot and there is nothing I can do about it.
I had to learn the hard way that sometimes people don’t like the smell of black blow-dried hair, or black pressed/flat ironed hair. I actually had someone come to my dorm room door, make a face and ask me “Why does it smell like that? Do you have to straighten it?”
My feelings were really hurt, because growing up, I had black friends who understood the struggle and the smell. It’s not like it smells bad but it smells like… hot? I wasn’t burning my hair or setting the smoke alarm off. I didn’t use chemicals in my hair or oils that would smell funny when heated. I even had my door halfway closed, the fan on high and the window all the way open, to minimize the smell of hot hair. That’s just the way it was and I didn’t straighten it often because of all the work it took. I was the only black girl (besides my roommate who is half black and half white), therefore, no one else had this problem. So, when this girl came by and insulted me…I had no idea what to do.
I stopped straightening my hair for a while because I didn’t want to ‘offend’ anyone. I wondered if anyone else in my dorm was offended by it and just didn’t want to say anything. I looked up ‘ways to wear your natural hair’ so that I wouldn’t have to straighten it. My hair started breaking off because I didn’t know how to handle it in its natural curly state. I didn’t have the money to buy products that I needed to take proper care of it. I left it in a wet bun on top of my head most days, and switched it up to a low curly wet ponytail when I started getting headaches from my hair sitting on top all day.
A month later I stopped one day and admitted to myself that I didn’t like my hair in a wet ponytail. It was so hard to manage and was tangled and falling out and breaking off. I felt so ugly.
I called my mother and cried, but she was more upset at the fact that I was crying over the fact that I let some girl control the way I lived my life. She had raised my stronger than that and told me “ *UCK HER Mik! She doesn’t know you. She has no say in your life, in your hair or in your confidence. If you want to straighten your hair, then you straighten it. She can leave if she doesn’t like the smell. They can’t ban you from the dorm for straightening your hair. They can’t kick you out the school for straightening your hair. Just because she can roll out a bed and run a brush through hers doesn’t mean that you should find a way to do the same. Do NOT conform to other people. Be yourself, Be confident. And if she has anything else to say. Tell her that she can go screw herself and clean her room because your ‘offended’ by the way it smells.”
Now it may seem like my mom was giving me tough love, but it all made sense. I was tired of trying to conform myself to appease some girl that I barely even knew. I told myself that I was not ok being compliant to some rule that another human being, with zero authority, placed on me to make herself happy.
I stopped crying, washed and straightened my hair… with the door wide open.
And I have never let anyone have that kind of control over me again.