There is one thing that most of us with afro-textured hair all have in common, whether you are relaxed, in weave, or wearing it natural: You were born into a lifetime commitment of wrapping your hair every single night or facing serious hair consequences. Trust me, I have plenty of gripes about being a Black American and most of them — from being underpaid to being a more likely victim of police brutality — are systematic. For this gripe, however, I can only blame genetics.
Let me be very clear: I love every single thing about my hair. I love the texture, I love the curls, I love the versatility, and I love the color. But that does not prevent the occasional temper tantrum that happens right before I realize how late it's gotten... and that I still have to wrap my hair. In those moments? I hate my hair. I long for a shaved head. I wonder how long I can keep this up. This feeling immediately goes away the next time I let my tresses flow freely, but dayyyyyum, wrapping my hair every single night forever is a bigger commitment than marriage.
As my hair grows, the daunting task of wrapping my hair each night builds, keeping me in protective styles longer to avoid the dreaded task. The whole reason why so many of us faithfully wrap our hair each night is obviously because even if it feels like it takes a lifetime, we are more likely to have a lifetime of good hair because of it. Still, that didn't stop me from coming up with a list of reasons why this important task sucks that anyone who wraps their hair nightly will understand.
1. The Fear Of Time
Whenever my hair is looking its finest, I'm feeling my finest, but that starts to change as the clock strikes 11 p.m. Suddenly, I'm very concerned about how much time it's going to take to wrap my hair. My mind starts racing to plan out the rest of my evening: Let's see, it's already 11:30 p.m. and I could be home around midnight, but after wrapping my hair and getting ready for bed... suddenly it's not an early night at all because I'll be up until 1 a.m.
2. Sexy Sleepovers Come At An Unsexy Cost
In these scenarios, you have three options, all of which come with uncertain results. 1) Wrap your hair before you get into bed, knowing that regardless of the type of wrap, you've definitely looked sexier. 2) Wrap your hair after sex, so at least your hair can enjoy the ride as well, but knowing that you really just want to fall asleep afterwards and are likely to do so. 3) Forget the wrap, let those sexy tresses flow freely, and chance how tangled or matted it will look in the morning. These are all annoying options when you're just trying to be a normal sexually active adult.
3. Having A Night Out Becomes Even Riskier
Hangovers are the worst. Consuming too much alcohol usually shows up all over my face the next morning, but what has really made me watchful of the amount of booze I'm consuming on a night out the inevitable truth of Tipsy Kristin. I know that there is no way I'll wrap my hair when I get home. Waking up with a hangover, puffy eyes, and slightly poorer is bad enough. Adding tangled knots in my hair is just a recipe for a teary morning.
4. Those Random Terrible Morning Results
Too frequently, I'll wrap my hair in the exact same way as I always do and find that when I take it out it's totally jacked up. I was so good and responsible with my hair and now I'm rewarded with this mess? This was a weekly struggle of mine when I had relaxed hair. Often, it's not really the art of wrapping hair that keeps results varying, it's my unconscious rolling around in my sleep, unknowingly ruining all my hard work. Now, your plan to wake up, unravel beautiful hair, and head to work or class is a complete fail.
5. The Tighter The Wrap, The Bigger The Headache
Related to the previous struggle, tying that wrap too tight in attempts to keep everything in place almost always results in a headache that I can feel immediately. I've never been one to get headaches, they exclusively occur when I am wearing a do-rag of sorts.
6. Hot Summer Nights Of Sweaty Scalps
It's definitely occurred to me that I wouldn't be sweating so much in my sleep if it weren't for that extra layer of satin I've tightly wrapped around my head. Not only is it uncomfortable to sleep when you're overheated, but that sweat is likely to kink up your curls. Another terrible struggle of mine when I had relaxed hair was the constant concern that I was sweating out a relaxer I just got only a few days ago. Yet, even with natural hair, I find only twist outs will keep my hair from tangling up during a particularly sweaty night of sleep.
7. The Millions Of Excuses To Skip Wrapping
I've found that giving my scalp room to breathe promotes a healthy environment for healthy hair. It's freshly washed (or relaxed), so it will look fine in the morning. I'm going to wash my hair tomorrow anyways, so I'm not going to worry about it tonight. I have satin pillow cases, so I don't actually need to wrap my hair anymore. These are just a few of the things I tell myself when I flop on my bed and decide that I'd rather spend my time sleeping than wrapping my hair. While there is some validity to all those excuses, I know that it feels so good to abandon wrapping my hair that it's highly addictive and a recipe for a future of bad hair days.
8. The Fact That No One Wraps Their Hair On TV
Afro-textured hair on television is about as misrepresented as romance in an animated fairy tale. The more I see women of color waking up with perfect hair sans head wrap, the more I wonder if it's slightly counterintuitive. While I'm enjoying seeing more women of color in prime time roles, I don't actually think it's helpful to completely misrepresent a large part of our identity. And it certainly doesn't encourage me to give my hair the TLC it deserves if they aren't doing it.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (2); Giphy