Aug 16, 2009

Adoption Adjustment: the Hair issue

Hair does have an capital H in this case. It is soooo important to know how to care for African hair, not only for health reasons, but cultural reasons. Here in the US, hair is a BIG deal when it comes to African American culture and standards of beauty.

It seems to me, after the research that I have done, that there are a 2 camps (probably more, I'm probably overgeneralizing). The standard procedure seems to be braiding and oiling and slicking while girls are young, and then when they get to be pre-teen or teenage, applying relaxers (called "Creamy Crack" by some because of their cyclical nature... once you start it's hard to stop) and/or hotcombing and straight ironing to get the curl looser and more managable, and more "conventional" looking by general American standards

The other camp is the "natural hair" camp. You do your kids' hair in the cute hairstyles when they are little, but no relaxers. Embrace the curl you're born with. Some people will wear their hair free. You have to understand that African hair, like any other hair, varies hugely. There's looser curls, there's tighter curls. There's softer hair and denser hair, there's relatively untextured hair and hair that is very textured.

My two girls have different hair types, completely. The older's hair is a very tight wave, I'd call it. She has a WHOLE LOT of gorgeous, healthy hair that has a wave/curl pattern a little smaller than a pencil diameter. I can put her hair in a style because it is long enough, but it doesn't stay for long, and I don't think it will unless I put it in very small cornrows or twists. But her hair is also easy and quick to comb out, and doesn't break easily, so this works out.

The younger has hair that has a more wooly texture; more wiry and cloudy and soft and amazing to touch and feel. It is short, about 2 inches when stretched as far as it can go. I've tried cornrows and twists, but her hair is so short, and she has some large bald patches here and there because of ringworm, and so cornrows don't actually look that nice and they stay in only a few hours, literally. So right now, I'm washing it about once a week, applying moisturizer to it every day and giving it a comb-out in the mornings and after naptime. I cover both girls' heads with sleep caps and have them on satin pillowcases to keep rubbing and snarling to a minimum. Right now I do styles on the fringe of MayMay's hair around her face; mostly just a line of hanging twists to frame her pretty eyes. I put clips on the ends. She's sad she can't have beads yet like her sister. I tell her when her hair gets a little more "teleg" (tall or big) She can definitely have beads, too. But she still gets so sad. :(

Dang that ringworm.

Anyway, the hair thing is going all right. I am SOOOOO Glad I practiced, because I've been able to keep Bellarina's styles in for a couple days, and I don't think I've spent more than an hour in a sitting yet. I've been doing simple stuff like 4-parts-into-twists, but this week I tried cornrowing the top and putting the back in boxbraids and my hands knew what they were doing! I did it! And it stayed in for almost 4 days... the most I've gotten out of any style so far.

We'll be experimenting a bit more with gels that will hopefully keep some of the fuzzies down, in future... but I'm going to wait a bit before putting bunches of goop in their hair. I want to clear up the ringworm situation first.

Anyway, after all the buildup, I thought I'd let you all know how the hair was going. If I get time in the next few days, I'll post some pics to show off. :)


Rachel said...

Good for you for putting so much care, research, and thought into your girls hair! I can't wait to see the pictures. (jeremy's wife)

Heather said...

Wow with a capital W! I hope everything is going well.

Putz said...

oh do i remember your hair concerns a year or maybe two ago and now to fruitation

Allison said...

Their hair was adorable when I was there, and I kept sniffing at Meaza's becuase it smelled so good (I'm a weird grandma...) Your practise and research beforehand really helped!

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