Without Asking Me
by Kadian Pow of whatgetsonmytits.blogspot.com

When I was eight years old, my mother relaxed my hair without asking me. I can’t say that
it was totally out of the blue as the clues were there. Tugging my hair in resentment, her
frustration with my hair—and me by extension—was palpable each time she put her hands in
it. Sadly, my story is not unique.

Between the ages of seven and twelve, I had little control over my hair, which in some ways is
a good thing. A child who has had a relaxer forced on them has no business trying to take
care of their own hair. I lived with my grandmother and saw my mom every couple of weeks.
With my grandmother, it was thick blue or green grease, barrettes and plaits. When my mom
would see my hair like this, she thought it unacceptable and would promptly deliver me to
her favorite salon du jour.

I was eight years old on one of these salon trips when she left me under a hooded dryer to
run an errand. I had already been at the salon for hours and my hair was still not done. By the
time I climbed up into the stylist’s chair I was struggling to stay asleep. I remember muttering
something about my bangs before drifting off to sleep. I woke up to the stylist patting me on
my shoulder and shoving a hand mirror in front of my face. I looked in the mirror, my eyes
quickly bulging in disbelief. My bangs! My beautiful, beautiful side swept bangs. What had
she done to them?! They were several inches above my eyebrows and greased to an inch
of their lives. This was 1987, so 1940s Betty Page bangs were not in. I had to go to school
like this for several weeks until they grew to a reasonable length. In addition to my lingering
Jamaican accent, this was yet another thing the kids at school would make fun of. I could feel
the blood rushing to my face as I felt a mix of rage, sadness and disappointment. I was eight,
dammit. How could she do this to me?!

I turned to meet the expectant gaze of the stylist. She wanted feedback and I wanted to
strangle her. Barely managing my disdain for her, I quickly muttered “it’s fine,” as I leapt out
of her chair to go sit and wait for my mom. I sat fuming in anger and holding back tears as I
waited for my mom for half an hour. When she finally arrived, she looked questionably at my
hair. I told her what happened, expecting her to tear the stylist a new one. To my chagrin, she
blamed me for falling asleep. Me for not standing watch over a professional to ensure that she
cut a child’s bangs to a reasonable length. Me for looking like someone she didn’t want to be
seen with. On the way home, the anger subsided, but the disappointment lingered even after
my bangs had grown back.

I started transitioning back to natural when I was fourteen, but it wasn’t until much later
that I understood what my mother was trying to tell me by blaming me for the bang debacle.
Sure, she may have been a little tough on me (did I mention I was eight?!), but her point was
sound. She taught me that just because someone is a licensed professional, my own common
sense and intuition should not go out the door. Whether it is a haircut or chemical treatment,
it is I who am ultimately responsible for the way I present myself to world. It has taken me
many mistakes to finally be able to say that with confidence. But in all things, the journey is
just as important as the destination.

About the Author: Kadian Pow was born in Jamaica and grew up in Washington, DC. She has recently moved to Birmingham, UK, with her partner where she enjoys writing, travelling, being obsessed with technology and experimenting with hair products. You can find her on Twitter (@whtgetsonmyt__s), YouTube (whatgetsonmytits), and her part-time blog (whatgetsonmytits.blogspot.com).

Can you relate? Do you have any similar childhood memories?