My first perm

Black Girl Experiences

My First Perm.

Thursday, November 18, 2004. At 5:33 pm.

“Melissa, stop moving around like that! What’s wrong with you?” my mom said as she was detangling my hair while we were waiting for Julia to finish with her other client. I was so excited. I was going to get my first perm. I could not wait to see what my hair would look like afterward. I always had a lot of hair. It was my thing. People remembered me as the girl with a lot of hair and I took a lot of pride in it. My cousin had a very light skin complexion but I had way more hair than her which compensate for my darker skin complexion. My mom decided that it was time for me to get a perm because she was no longer capable of dealing with my hair. I had a “mauvais terrain”; it was too kinky, too black.

So, it was now 6:07 pm and Julia just finished styling her first client’s hair. It was my turn. I was really excited because at the time, every woman that I knew had a perm. It was kind of a rite of passage. For me, it was like becoming a woman. I could not believe I was going to get myself a perm. What I didn’t know was how much it was going to hurt and to be honest I was not ready for it. It burned! My scalp was itching so bad, but there was no way my mom was going to let me touch my head with my bare hands which is funny now that I think about it because I had no problem putting a product so toxic that it cannot be touch with my bare hands on my hair. It doesn’t make any sense. But it did for me then.

It was 6: 42pm and my head was burning even more and the burning sensation kept getting stronger and deeper every minute but I stayed there and said nothing. I knew that the longer the product stayed in my hair, the straighter my hair was going to be and the more beautiful I would end up to be. At that moment, as my mother saw me struggling with that terrible burning sensation, she said: “Il faut souffrir pour ȇtre belle”.


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