Interview with Skya
When I think about “natural hair”, specifically MY natural hair, I think about me as 6 year old, getting my hair hot combed, braided, and whatever other technique put my hair into “that-one-look”. You know you’ve seen it. All little black girls wear at some point: 4 sections, each pulled into these cute, chubby braids with cute little barrettes that lay flat at first, but eventually look like antennae trying to tune your head into the local FM pop music station.
My memories of these processes are less than pleasant, but with age I have let them go. That said, I was really jazzed to be able to talk to my six-year old sister, Skya Grace, about her hair, so that she could give us a realtime glimpse of what its like to get your hair done at that age and see if it was, to put it lightly, as challenging as I remember.
Going into the interview, I had heard from my mom and my Nana that Skya is particularly tenderheaded, and exhibited all the behaviors I expected to hear about: crying, shouting, scowling, doing everything one can to avoid the process.
Welp. I was wrong. The kid couldn’t have described her hair experiences more pleasantly. She described how she “liked” getting her hair and that it “feels good to have her hair done”. I decided to stop muckraking and try to figure out how and why Skya likes having her hair done. I the process I discovered that Skya’s friend who was joining us for the interview would provide the key to unlocking these secrets.
Her friend is Christy. Christy is Skya’s new American Girl Doll, part of their “Look Alike” series, meaning that Christy was purchased with brown skin and curly hair to resemble my sister Skya. When we talked about how Skya liked to do Christy’s curly hair, she became frustrated and told me that she just wanted to take Christy to the American Girl Salon (!) and get her hair straightened, because then Skya “would be able to do more things with her hair”.
Charging unsuspecting parents these days to hot comb a dolly’s hair. These people really have thought of everything!
I came to the conclusion that Skya preferred to not only Christy’s hair straight, but also her own, because of the perceived increase styling options. This is a sentiment that I can definitely sympathize with because when I was younger, I was obsessed with playing with hair, specifically straight hair, of my dolls and friends. Their was easier to brush, did not require hours of prep work, products, and tools. Not that my curly headed dolls and friends were exempt from my fingers—eventually required straightening tools and their hair was made straight and I believe once a friend and I blew up a Barbie head with a blow dryer trying to get her kinks out. Not to mention, there was no such thing as just “playing with my hair” at that age. To play with a head of hair that had just been worked on for a total of 8 hours for over 2 days was to play with fire and I certainly was not going to even go there.
For the six-year old, I guess the bottom line is that is all about play; whatever hair is easiest to play with and what ever allows you to play more. As it should be.
Read on for the full interview transcript:
Me: What’s your name?
Me: And how old are you?
SG: 6 and one half
Me: Now the purpose of this interview is for me to learn a little bit more about you and hour hair. How are you wearing your hair right now?
SG: My hair is French braided.
Me: Oh, and who did your braids?
SG: My sister Cassidy
Me: What?? Dude, you cant lie in your interview. OH, you’re right, I did do the braid on the side. Now who did your longer braids?
SG: Um. [pause] My friend Cassandra did it.
Me: And who is your friend who is sitting with you right now?
SG: My friend Christy.
Me: Got it, you and your friend Christy look a lot alike. Now, do you like having your hair done?
Me: It feels good to have your hair done?
Me: Now when you don’t have your hair in braids like that, what do you do with your hair?
SG: My mom puts my hair up like hers.
Me: Yea? Now does that feel good?
Me: Hmm. Ok you like it? Do you have your hair straightened ever?
SG: Like its straightened like my mom’s. She like makes my hair like hers.
Me: And tell me how she does it?
SG: She like takes out these braids, she washes it, and then she like flat irons it. And like hers it gets curled at the bottom.
Me: Yea? And does it take a long time?
Me: How long?
SG: All the way to ten o’clock.
Me: Ten o’clock at night?
Me: Wow. And how long does it usually stay like that?
SG: Like, a few days. Like, 20 or 30 days.
Me: And you can wear it to school like that?
SG: Yes. BUT you cant get it wet. Or it gets all soggy and it crumples up.
Me: Crumbles up? What do you mean?
SG: Like it gets really really dry. And then it gets really really fuzzy. And it just gets crumbled up.
Me: Ohhh. So do you avoid getting it wet then?
Me: So what do you do? What do you have to miss out on?
Me: Do you have a lot of friends that go swimming?
SG: Not really. No.
Me: But can you go swimming with your hair like that? (points to her cornrows)
Me: Do you like that ‘cause its easier?.
Me: Got it. Now earlier you were telling me about your dolly, Christy, and you said you wished her hair was straight.
SG: Oh yes.
Me: Why do you wish that?
SG: ‘Cause you can do more things. You can put it up in ponyies and you can French braid it, but with curls you can’t do any of that.
Me: Really? And what can you do with curls?
SG: You can just put it like this [gestures to how doll is wearing it down], you can put it in a pony for a little while. And then it just ends up like this. [points to dolls hair is again, just down]
Me: Like what? That looks cute!
SG: Yea, but…it is cute, but….I just want to go her her hair done at the American Girl doll shop.
Me: And what do they do there?
SG: They can put it up in all different ways.
Me: How? What are you going to have done with her hair?
SG: I wanna try to get her hair like unbraided.
Me: Unbraided? You mean get it straightened?
Me: How do they straighten her hair?
SG: Like they take a brush and like straighten it.
Me: Did her hair come curly?
Me: And they’re able to straighten it? Do you know how long it takes?
SG: An hour.
Me: An hour? And it costs money?
SG: Yes. Everything there costs money!
Me: [Laughing] that’s probably very true. Well this doll looks a lot like you in how shes dressed right now, right?
SG: Yea! But theres dolls that REALLY look like you and theyre called “Look Alikes”!
Me: Oh, is she a look alike?
Me: Yea! She does look like you! But if you have curly hair, and she has curly hair, don’t you think she will look more like you?
Me: Then why do you want her to have straight hair?
SG: Because. I just want her to have straight hair. You can do anything with straight hair.
Me: Anything? What do you mean?
SG: Like you can brush it. You can put it in ponies. You can braid it, you can get it wet.
Me: You can do all that with your hair now.
SG: I know. But I want my hair straight too.
Me: How straight? I mean, didn’t you say that Mommy straightens it?
SG: Yes. I want my as straight as Mommy’s.
Me: Any why do you want your hair so straight?
SG: Because. I like straight. I don’t like braids.
Me: Why don’t you like braids? They look beautiful on you.
SG: I know, but I don’t like having braids so long. Sometimes, but not like this long.
SG: I just feel like I have braids for a long time. And they look all messy here; they’re like sticking out.
Me: Hmm. How long have you had braids in?
SG: At least a year 100 days.
Me: But what if you had them done more often so that it didn’t get messy, would that be better for you or would you rather just have straight hair.
SG: Yea. But I don’t like when you first get them, cause when you put your head down it like pulls and it hurts!
Me: Oh no. Does it hurt to have it done when you get braids?
SG: [Nods yes.]
Me: Yea? And what do you do?
SG: I just wait and watch tv.
Me: But when mommy straightens your hair does that hurt?
SG: No, not really.
Me: Ok, well do you have anything else to add about your hair?
SG: No, not really.
Me: Ok, Sky. Thank you for talking with me about your hair!