Maintaining Afro hair is not the easiest job, especially if its coarse hair and belongs to a child. Time, hard effort and a ritual of expensive hair creams and oils are needed to keep it looking its best… Then there’s washing it.
Not many little girls like having there hair washed, if they have afro hair, it’s pretty understandable. Unlike the lightness in weight of other nationalities hair who can shampoo their hair whilst having a quick shower, leave it to dry naturally whilst going about their daily business, black hair can be a lengthy hard slogging process.
Take my eleven year old daughter for instance; she has quite coarse hair (similar to the picture above) and it is like velcro. All dust and particles she comes into contact with embed in her hair, which leads to the need of regular washing, which she hates. As I constantly remind her… I’m the one who has to strain my back over the bath shampooing it out at least three times, towel blot it, add conditioner, break my back rinsing it out all before the drying process, which all can take up to four hours (if I use a masking treatment conditioner) and that’s all before giving the hair texture a helping hand with the straighteners, so I hate washing her hair more than she hates having it washed.
I was quite blessed to not have such coarse hair, but in my day as a child, there was no luxury of a fresh running shower to wash my locks. The fortunate may have had a rubber shower attachment for taps (above) but the unlucky ones, like me had their heads shoved into the bathroom basin, knocking the sides as our mums battled with the fro and the soap suds or had bowls or buckets of water thrown over their heads whilst clinging to the bath sides for mercy. Could we moan? Complain we couldn’t breathe as water filled up our nostrils? We wouldn’t even dare risk it unless we wanted our heads knocked off its shoulders.
Before the magnificent Wahl Powerpik hairdryer came on the market, we had the towel rub and the heat from the gas fire to dry our hair. Tears would stream frequently as my mother rubbed furiously against my skull before dragging out every kink and knot with a fine pik comb (- talk about a headache).
Back in my day we never had the grace of straighteners to help us out, there was just curling tongs which kept the hair smooth for all of five minutes before puffing out or many West Indian women would use the dreaded hot comb, hence severe burns, damaged smoky hair and a house smelling of a hair and hair oil barbecue. The black girls of today don’t know how privileged they are, and as I also remind my kid… She hates me washing it now, but when the time comes when she is old enough to maintain her hair herself (- I cannot wait), she’ll be begging for me to do it or she’d best find a good enough job to visit the hair salon every week.