I remember sitting in my grandma’s kitchen waiting for the hot comb to heat up. As it began to get hotter, I could smell the burnt hair and product fumes rising from the teeth of the comb. It was nearly impossible for me to sit still as the piercing hot comb hovered centimeters away from my tender scalp. A few years later, my mom decided that I should start getting relaxers. I could never resist scratching my head, so every time she applied the relaxers, they burned. I learned that my hair was something that needed to be straight and tamed by any means necessary, even if that meant chemical and heat burns.
By the time I was 20, my hair had seen its fair share of relaxers, weaves, flat irons, and drawstring ponytails. She was dry, lifeless, and desperately in need of some love. At this point in my life, I was just hiding her under sew-in weaves. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to go completely natural and stop getting chemical relaxers. I envisioned that, as I got my hair cut, I would feel a sense of liberation. I felt cutting my hair was going to bring some sense of peace into my life. I felt as though I would be cutting all of the toxic notions surrounding beauty standards and black femininity out of my life.