One of the biggest debates among black hair is whether relaxing a child’s hair is considered to be ok. For me, I personally had my hair first relaxed when I was 5 years old. I was enrolled in a dance company and had a photo session one day and the recital the next.
While my mother had my natural curly hair hot combed for the photos, the next day it didn’t look so great. The end result after she consulted her stylist was to use a Just For Me Relaxer, a gentle at home relaxer that is safe for kids. Since that day there was no turning back for the next 19 years before I decided to revert back to my natural state.
Because relaxers were what we considered to be normal within my household of 4 women, it seemed to come natural that we would relax my niece’s hair once it became too unmanageable.
My niece, Mikayla, had thick hair ever since she was born. We often styled her hair in poofs and pony tails for her first few years. It wasn’t until she hit 5 and the comb wasn’t making its way through her tresses easily that we grew frustrated and made the ultimate decision to put a relaxer in and permanently straighten her hair. 5 was the magic number and my mother had chemically treated mine and my sister’s hair at that age so it only seemed right.
Truth is, we just gave up trying to do the whole natural thing. We gave up on her hair. In hindsight I realize it was more of an ignorance thing. We just didn’t know how to deal with her course 4b/4c natural hair and it was easier to just keep it straight.
If only I had taken the time to do the research and know what I know now about products, techniques and tools I believe we could have stuck it out and figured out how to care for her hair.
Mikayla is now 8 years old and my sister, who is also relaxed, still makes it a habit to chemically process her hair every 8 weeks. Now that I’m natural, what makes me most guilty is that I’m the one who performed the actual relaxer on her hair the first time. It was me. Maybe I’ll get my wish and convince my sister to give Mikayla’s natural hair another shot but until then I’ll make sure I won’t make the same mistake on my other two niece’s hair.