In Ghana, where I grew up, school age girls were expected to have a hair cut with hair no longer than an inch or so. The only ones exempt were the one or two mixed girls in the school. This meant that during our senior year, all of us girls would start growing out our little ‘fros (but we’d tie them down overnight so as not to alert the teachers that it was longer than the 1 inch maximum allowed) in preparation for graduation because that’s when the magic happens! Many of us get to relax our hair for the first time! We get to have straight hair that swang in the wind.
So, as expected, I graduated and dove head first into the world of relaxers and braids and wigs and weaves and every iteration of it. It wasn’t until 2008, in the midst of the new natural hair movement that was sweeping the US did I stop to investigate what my hair as it grew out of my scalp looked like. I promptly did the “big chop” as it’s known. I.e., I cut off all my relaxed hair and went back to less than an inch of hair. I embarked on a journey of discovering curls I hadn’t known existed in my 23 years of life.