Hi my name is Lee-Anne
I was addicted to the creamy crack and I probably still am.
Despite not indulging for over three years the choice to go completely natural was not totally my own.
Yes, I had considered it and had even started stretching out my relaxers and was slowly going on my
own kind of hair journey, which included protective styling and generally taking better care of my
hair by taking more notice of the products I was using.
However, the choice was ultimately made by
me living with an autoimmune diseases called Lupus, and had been put on steroids to combat it.
Suddenly my hair was coming out in clumps and I was advised to avoid relaxers until my condition
I can’t remember quite when my relationship with relaxers stared but I think that it started before I
was 8, as I can remember dreading Sundays, as that is when my hair would have to be washed and
braided. I hated having my hair done!
A combination of lack of understanding of how to maintain my hair coupled with a distinct lack of
time and patience my from my single black mother culminated in my ‘hair day’ being akin to being
Tears were shed, combs were hidden in VCR and licks were given.
I also remember being told that my hair was picky, tough (I think I told a few people that too) and
coarse not long shiny and silky like my dolls or the white women on the TV, but that’s what I wanted.
One day after a particularly stressful session of getting my hair done (For both my mother and
myself) a broken wide tooth come was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
You’re getting a relaxer she angrily shouted at me!
Thinking this was some kind of punishment I simply cried. The following week she came home with
a box of PCJ relaxer for girls. The American models looked so trendy to me with their silky hair in
fashionable styles and better still they were black like me!
“Is my hair going to look like that Mum” I asked hopefully to which she replied “yes”.
I don’t think anyone forgets their first perm I defiantly didn’t.
Oh I was feeling myself it was shiny soft and the comb ran right through it yes! I was feeling myself.
From then it was a blur of hairstyles throughout my adolescence and adulthood; braids, weaves
bobs you name it I did it.
How did you grow your hair so long? My white colleagues would often ask in amazement when I
sashayed into the office with hair down to my back.
Shrinkage, shedding, breakage, dry scalp and chemicals burns I experienced it.
Saunas, steam rooms and swimming pools I avoided it
All to have what I considered being beautiful hair.
Here I am three years deep and I am still learning about how to properly maintain and appreciate
and love my African hair.
Deep conditions, co-wash, moisturise and seal and of course protective styles, oh yes I am learning.
The more that I am learning is the more that I am becoming comfortable with my hair in its natural
The question is would I relax my hair again in the future?
The politics of hair has been well discussed: perm verses natural making a symbolic play on your
I refuse to belong to any particular camp but am fully aware that knowledge of
self is a delicious power and choice and fashion is not a thing that can be politically determined or