Her Hair Story: Olive

Her Hair Story: Olive

I have two distinct memories of childhood and hair. Mama was basically in charge of doing what needed to be done with our hair. So up until about 8 or 9, she would actually shave me bald with a razor. There are so many pictures of me with not a lick of hair, like a shiny scalp. I think she did it because it just was easier with that many children, she was also a full time teacher and did lots of other things around the household so I think it was just like all the children get their heads shaved once a month. And it used to be really frustrating because there was this notion that shaved hair was for boys and girls couldn’t be walking around with no hair. So I would get teased. And then when I hit about 10 or so, I remember she started to plait our hair on Sundays. She was really good at everything: doing hair, knitting and cooking and baking. She took a lot of pride in making whatever our hairstyle was for that week look good. So I used to look forward to that time, also there are lots of children, that was our time with our mom, when we were sitting there getting our hair done. But I remember she also used to pull it really tight so for the first day or two my whole scalp was on fire it was pulled so tight. I felt like it was changing how my face looked for the first two days. But I would go to school and everybody would be complimenting my hair and all that. So, both grown out hair and it being shaved are experiences from my childhood of the different hair looks you could have. And I will say that even when I had it short I was told I looked like a boy but, so what? So then I went through the teen years. We never really relaxed hair or anything and actually the way to get it to have a less tight curl was to plait it with wool. That was really common. So that would stretch it out. I remember that mama did used to stretch her own hair with a hot comb but she wouldn’t do it with us because it wasn’t safe. So we never got our hair straightened. There was some kind of product that softened it a little but smelled really ugly and only every once in a while. So, I grew up with natural hair and then once I got to high school years is when I started to go to a salon and get my hair relaxed and I got into all the different possible looks with hair. So much so that sometimes I would change hairstyles in the middle of the school day. Like I would leave the house with a half ponytail, half down look and then go home at lunchtime and come back with two ponytails, in the same day. That was my, you know, obsession with it. But I guess I understood even at that point just how much you can express yourself in different ways with your hair. So I feel as though, you know, when I was that age I preferred to wear it long and I never really wore it short and then, the first time I saw locks on a woman, it was on my friend Florentia who was African American and living in Botswana. So I had my hair short and then when I got pregnant with my first child, it starts to lock and I left it and you know I got some remarks and some comments but I didn’t care. I really loved that look becuase it just was. And even before you could manicure or train the locks in anyway so they were just sort of how they are when you don’t comb your hair. So I think I wor locks for about the next 15 years. I’m losing all sense of time. But it was a long, long time. And I was worrying about twisting it and that eventually it might fall out because I have fine hair. So at some point I thought I’m going to give my hair a break and maybe I will come back to them at some point down the road. So I cut them off and I love the feeling of short hair. Just like I usd to fl when Mama would shave it with a razor blade. You just get this sense of being renewed when you take off all your hair. I’ve worn it short since. I feel good this way. I love my hair short. I get a lot of compliments. Often people will say “I would wear my hair short if I had your shape of head” and I always say “Anyone can wear their hair short if that’s what they want to do.” Jim loves it this way, which also helps. Part of what I love about short hair is that it’s so easy. I barely have to do anything. On of the best things you can do with this look is to find a good barber, someone you know that you can just sit there and thy will take care of it. I have had this guy for the last couple of years now. In between the cuts I just try to put a little moisturizer on it. It’s very easy maintenance wis. It was so hard to find my barber. To begin with w showed up in the US in a town whr thr we hardly any black people. I didn’t know where to go to get my haircut. When I got my first job hr, I asked a coworker who hgos to get his haircut. HE told m e barbershop. I was so nw hr, at the time, I didn't understand that there was a culture to barbershops and who typically goes there. I would go and oftentimes I would be sitting there waiting for someone to attend to m and this guys would all be talking to each other and people would walk in and go and sit in the chair and lav and thr was all this chattr and I would just sit there until somebody took pity on me because I didn’t have a barber thr. Eventually I want to this woman who did pixie cuts on women. I figured if she did that then she was good with short hair. And so I would go to hr and my current barber had a station not far from where she was in the shop and sometimes he'd just b looking ovr in our direction and I think he was thinking “why doesn't she just let me cut her hair?” So, this on day, I want inthe looking for hr and they told me “She's not longer hr” and I was like “Ah, what am I going to do now?” and they said, well “Bob’s free!” and I was like “Ok, I guess.” and so I go and I sit in the chair and he swivels me around, puts the thing on and as soon as he went to put the clippers in my hair I just felt like “this feels good already.” We’re at a point now where there really isn’t much conversation about what I want. I just say hi and jump on the chair and he does his thing. It’s all about finding a look that you like and a look that you can keep because you have someone that helps you keep it that way. With hair, it’s one of these things where it’s whatever it takes to make you feel good. This is what makes me feel good.


I love what hair, in all its forms, can do for women. However we choose to wear our hair, that’s part of what makes us beautiful.


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