Protective styles are damaging?

Protective styles are damaging?

For the last couple of years, the natural hair community has broadened immensely because of the natural hair movement. It’s become one of the most compelling ways that a black woman can use to declare her independence and individuality. Within this community, women exchange their tips, hair hacks, and methods with one another. One particularly trendy technique is protective styling. They are said to promote hair growth because of low manipulation. But Goddess braids, Senegalese twists, weaves, etc., are still tension wearing styles which very well can cause hair loss.

Wearers of these styles leave the hair salons or braiding boutiques after being promised the pain will subside in 72 hours. This is a classic case where the idea that beauty is pain is brought to attention. But we all recall having our hair in tight plats as children and the almost unbearable pain. Don’t even get me started on the barrettes, balls, and bows that definitely contributed to those restless and sleepless nights.

Nevertheless I cut my hair short and became frustrated after a few weeks, not being used to the length. So I decided to have braids installed. If you didn't already know, I am originally from West Africa, so I am very familiar with the concept of tight braids. I made an appointment to have micro minis, bought my hair as recommended, and excitedly went to the braiding parlor to get my new do.

Binta and Fanta (not their real names ) immediately got to work and as I sat there while my head was being pulled in two different directions, I wondered how much longer the torture would last. I tried to smile through the process and make eye contact to indicate that I was still present. As they continued to speak over me in their native dialect, oblivious of what I was going through, I finally exasperatedly said: "Oh my goodness, my head hurts." They simply told me that it'd go away and to take some Tylenol when I got home.

After I left, I continued to look in the mirror as I was driving home and noticed the tightness and tension across my forehead. I had tried to smile and found that even to be painful. That night was one of the worst. I'd tossed and turned endlessly and only managed to get about four hours of sleep. You are told not to shampoo your hair for a few weeks so as not to "loosen" the braids. But seeing as I was in so much pain, I co-washed with the Diva by Cindy stimulating conditioner. For three days the peppermint soothed my painful and then, itchy scalp. I started to feel exhausted from the lack of sleep and after just three weeks, removed them. I was in heaven taking those braids out.

I cut them to the shortest length of my hair and saturated every braid with the Diva By Cindy wrapping lotion. And when I tapped them, they came right out! I had those tentacles out in less than an hour.
 For some of us, hair is about expressing our individuality. But if a style is affecting your comfort and peace of mind, then you should reevaluate whether it's really worth it.  In the end, when our bodies have worn away and our charms have escaped us, we'll be left with our minds and souls. And when one can be happy with oneself, truly happy and content, that is when they become beautiful.

Love and Light,


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