I AM hair verskrik. I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately but people, particularly women, have shoals of hair, big fat locks, sometimes down to the waist. I mean is Kate Middleton’s hair even real? Do people really get born with hair like Meghan Markle?
When Style magazine was taken to court for an article I wrote on Reeva Forman in 1985, I said to the editor: “Of course she will win, look at her hair.”
A colleague with stunning hair tells me she gives up a whole day, usually Saturday, to get her lush hair to look like it does.
Taylordene thinks of her hair as a disability, something like chronic migraine. It has to be medicated, treated, taken on mini breaks, stroked, chemically advanced, tranquillised, sedated and spanked.
“Hair for a coloured girl,” says Taylordene, “is an issue. And let me tell you, not only coloured girls. If it rains you see all those white girls look like they’re plugged into an electric socket. They can learn a lot from coloured girls.”
Hair causes divorce, arguments, even murder. “When a baby is born all the neighbours come around to look at the baby and let me tell you, girlfriend, they’re not looking at the colour of its eyes. Oh no, they’re looking at the hair. They’re looking for kroes.” This is a word that electrifies the coloured community. In the white community curls have always been admired. My mother used to say: “As usual the boy got the curls.”
Taylordene admits being hostage to her curls but feels that in the world of hairarchy she is fortunate.
“Luckily,” she says, “I was born with a combination of curls and gladde (straight). Let me tell you, mense, some hair is so curly it can cut your hands.”
Taylordene doesn’t gym. She does her hair. She has bulging biceps from blow-drying. The routine starts around a spa bath with gold taps like cherubs. There is an army of shampoo bottles, straighteners, conditioners, softeners, a platoon of frizz fighters.
Taylordene’s mantra is: refresh, rejuvenate, replenish. Or put more simply, eff off frizz.
“No girl from my community,” she tells me, “goes to the beach without conditioner because when the hair gets wet it looks like you’ve been touched by lightning.”
Every three weeks Taylordene has a “hair day”. She selects from the bathroom shelf a jeroboam of bright pink shampoo. “I go through three of these a month, R900 a time. They’re imported.”
She washes, shampoos and conditions, washes, shampoos and conditions. Three times. Then she scrolls back her hair like the screen on a smartphone and smothers her face and neck in Vaseline.
“It stops the burn.”
Then she pulls on a pair of vermilion gloves and paints each root with a relaxer using a tiny flat brush. The smell is wicked. Then the hair is neutralised with special shampoo — after action, relaxation — and rinsed five times. “You have to make sure all the stuff is completely gone or otherwise your hair will be gone.”
Then it’s time for rollers. “Friend, rollers isn’t simple. You got to know them.” Taylordene goes for huge ones that are as big as hamster cages.
“Now work carefully, you have to pull that hair. If you allow slack, you get kroes. It is like the devil, just looking for a space to get into you. You tug that strand until you know that one more pull will dislodge it from your scalp.”
After this ouching experience, Taylordene sits under her standing hairdryer in the lounge for an hour, testing her hair every five minutes. “If you take it out half dry, it minces (the colloquial word for frizz).”
“Pass me the hairdryer,” she commands. This is a weapon of mass destruction, 200W with a nozzle like a bird’s beak. “This thing could somme' kill me,” she says cheerfully as she blow-dries, using a brush that guarantees “intense shine".
At the end Taylordene’s little face peers out of her tarpaulin of hair like a mouse caught in a bear’s paw. “If you have too much volume you get vet hair,” she tells me. “You want it to gooi, to swing.”
It is now time for the flat iron. No girl should be without a GHD (good hair day), the best ceramic hair straightener. Taylordene has a new pink limited edition with non-slip ergonomically designed handles and 360° swivel mechanism.
“It cost R3,000 and comes with its own little bag with a special number and certificate and a two-year guarantee. Just like Vuitton.” A last shine is added with a tiny tube of silicone that resembles superglue.
The final bout involves a pair of cut-off pantyhose, known as a swirlkous, a bandana and finally the bottom part of one of those bright orange mesh bags you buy vegetables in. “When you sleep, it’s got to be tight, tight. I don’t even let my husband touch me.”
In the morning when she takes off the pantyhose, the bandana and the cut-off vegetable bag, the hair looks genetically modified, as glossy and sleek as a bird’s wing.
All I can say is: don’t try this at home. I ended up nearly bald. As Taylordene says: “Girlfriend, you need strong roots.”
I knew I was in for trouble when a friend at school drew a picture of me and when it came to the hair she said: “Pass the ruler.”
♦ VWB ♦
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