When I was a young girl, I remember dreading Sundays in my home. Sundays are usually known as the Lord's Day or a day of rest, but in my Bronx apartment, it was known as "Wash Day". That's right, my mother took it upon herself to designate this particular day each week to wash my super long, thick hair, set it with "rolos", and sit me under the dryer for an hour and half. When she took the "rolos" off, my hair would puff up so she would wrap it in a "doobie"(wrapping your hair in a circular pattern with bobby pins). She would say, "para que te quede lindo el pelo" (so that your hair looks good). I hated that I had to go through so much just so that my hair could look good, whatever looking good meant! Why couldn't I just wash my hair and not have to go through hours of heat hell? I would often ask myself this question, but there was no answer. There was no solution at the time, or at least it seemed that way.
Growing up in a Puerto Rican household meant continuously getting your hair done for every holiday and special occasion. Having your hair "done" actually meant not allowing it to be in it's natural form. It wasn't until I went away to college that I was able to experiment with my naturally curly hair. I first "practiced" the summer before I left just to see how it would look. I washed, applied mousse and proudly showed my mother. She did not approve of my new look but I was excited to try it out. However, my excitement was short lived a few months into my dorm life, when one of my girlfriends relaxed my hair for the first time before we headed out to a party. A small chunk of hair actually fell out that afternoon! However, that didn't stop me from continuing to use the toxic relaxers because I loved how straight it kept my hair. I didn't realize that these chemicals were causing irreparable and permanent damage.
As I became older, I realized that my hair was not responding well to relaxers. It was broken, thinning, and dry. So I stopped using them. But then foolishly turned to Keratin treatments which were supposed to be a healthier way to straighten hair (still caused thinning and fallout). Lastly I tried a Botox treatment a few years ago which didn't seem to cause harm to my hair, but didn't really help it either. At that point, I finally made a decision to no longer apply harsh chemicals to my hair. I was tired of spending money on unnecessary treatments that only caused irreversible damage. I began to love my hair they way it was meant to be.
Currently, I still blow out my hair, but have slowly been weening myself from those weekly salon blowouts since we have been in quarantine. I have allowed my hair to be free even though it doesn't fully curl like it used to anymore. I am thankful for the numerous curly girl platforms that have inspired me to feel beautiful, regardless of how my hair looks. I also love the versatility of being able to wear my hair straight or curly, depending on my mood. It has taken many many years, but I have finally learned to enjoy my Sundays again.