My love affair with braids started as a child. The routine my mother established with me and my two older sisters was wash, deep condition, and braid or plait up our hair. On Saturday she would usually straighten it or press it with the hot straightening comb. It wasn’t long before our mom then taught my sisters how to braid while they were young, and soon they became very good at braiding hair, better than our mom even! Shortly thereafter the job of braiding my hair became my sisters, and during this time putting beads in your hair was very popular. My sisters are some of the most creative hair braiders I know. I would be the envy of all the girls at my school because every couple of weeks I’d come to school with a new braided hair style with cool beads in it. Everyone wanted my sisters to do their hair like mine. Nope, my hair was one of a kind! “Have your own big sisters braid your hair” is what I wanted to say. I just smiled and reveled in the fact that I had TWO big sisters that were excellent at braiding hair and very creative with the styles.
Having my hair braided now reminds me of my life long love affair with braids. Women of all colors and backgrounds marvel at how long it takes to have my hair braided and that I WILLINGLY sit for hours to have it done. I can do nothing but laugh because I know first hand that beauty takes time. There’s a lot of sacrifice and patience involved, and I learned this at an early age. When my mother gave the directive to one of my sisters to braid my hair on a Saturday afternoon, I knew I had to sacrifice play time with my friends and the neighborhood kids. I knew it was going to take most of the afternoon to braid my hair AND put beads in it because my hair was thick and long. I was used to sitting while my sisters worked non stop on my hair. I was used to my butt getting numb from sitting for so long and asking to stand up and stretch or getting pillows to sit on. But I also knew the reward: Having beautiful braids with colorful beads hanging from the ends swinging down my back and in my eyes. I knew come Monday I’d be the envy of my friends at school because once again one of my sisters out did herself with her amazing braiding and beading skills.
No matter what we do to our hair it takes time, especially if we go to the shop. Coloring our hair takes time, relaxing or perming our hair takes time, cutting our hair takes time, and braiding our hair takes time. Some things take more time than others, but in the end it’s an investment, wouldn’t you agree? Sitting for six – eight hours to have my hair braided by skilled women is a huge investment for me, but an investment that is worth it. Depending on the style and how well you take care of your braids, they can last for months. You no longer have to get up early and fuss with your hair. In my case I get to sleep longer in the morning. Now all I have to worry about in the morning is figuring out what I’m going to wear to work and help my kids get ready for school. That is AWESOME to me! Also because my braids are long, I can flirt with putting a big bun on the top of my head or doing something else funky and sassy with them. The possibilities are endless.
Braids will always be a part of my life. I’ll never stop wearing them, I’ll never get too old for them. I don’t even think there’s a such thing as being too old for braids! Most importantly, braids are a great protective style for natural hair. Braids are also a great style accessory, a form of self expression. My braids have led to a lot of enlightening conversations for those of other cultures who don’t know how our hair is braided or how other hair is braided into our hair. It makes me happy that people are curious and want to learn. Being educated about other cultures is how one comes to understand, appreciate, and respect other cultures instead of listening to false sterotypes. Keep rocking your braids naturalistas and know that they are beautiful!
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