I wanted to get someone to write a post on adults considering getting a perm for the first time. I was in that perm-or-not-to-perm boat about three years ago and I am happy today that I didn't go down that road for various reasons. I thought I could provide some personal insight into this decision-making process through a series of Facebook message with my cousin. Cousin 11/26/2009: Your mom was telling me you're getting tired of dealing with your hair and are thinking about perming it and this is my attempt to stop you lol! Your hair is beautiful. I've only been natural for 4 years and boy has that been an emotionally challenging journey! I never realized how much my of my self-esteem was wrapped up in my hair! But I think it's especially hard for black women because we're made to feel that our hair is naturally unruly and unmanageable- hence the prevalence of perms, weaves, wigs and just the millions of $ we spend on hair products period. I feel like the process of learning how to work with hair as vivacious (lol that's the best word I can come up with) as ours is a life-long journey. I learned many things along my own journey: namely the life-saving power of a wide-toothed comb and the art of cowashing (using conditioner and natural homemade cleansers rather than shampoo) for retaining moisture...the list goes on and on. You could also just want to try something new- but I just wanted to let you know that your hair is lovely and you inspire me!
Me 12/4/2009: happy extra belated thanksgiving! thanks for the email and the support man. my decision to possibly perm my hair was so it could be more manageable and to make it this curly look without the break and tear i have to put up with when i comb it out every three weeks or so. the only manageable hair doo for me to do by myself is believe it or not the twists and i have been rockin that since 4th grade. so i kind of got tired of it after a while and i was playing with the idea of getting a perm to try something different. i thought straight perm would be too boring but i realized the curly ideal perm look i was going for was not translating either. im happy to say that i have been natural forever and to perm i actually didnt see it as anything that would go against what i stood for since I believe black women can do so many creative things with their hair. however, i do agree, i become somewhat worried when black women place so much of their lives, their finances, and even their self esteem when it comes to their hair. not to mention it can be restricting! (cant swim, running away from rain, etc etc). nonetheless, long as you see your hair as something apart of you, not something that defines you, i am happy with whatever women decide to do with their i am happy with whatever women decide to do with their hair. I respect and admire women who even take the chance to go from perm to natural hair which is a long and arduous process and even when it is all over you are at square one with how to manage this new grade of hair! so im more so proud of you than anything cuz, seriously.
Cousin 1/14/2010: Happy Belated Christmas & New Years! I'm glad you are working through the hair issues- and that you're not letting anyone influence you. I have nothing against perms (ok, maybe I have a lil something against them- being that they consist of a burning scalp and harmful chemicals coating ur head) but I can understand wanting one b/c I had one. But I'm really happy u've decided not to do it for now but are still open to many options. You are def. right about the black woman hair versatility thing!
If you are ever considering a perm definitely talk it over with friends and family (same as I did when I was considering a weave) and also consult websites and books (including the ones I have listed on this site) that give advice and recommendations on how to maintain and care for a perm if you do end up getting one.