My mom always did my hair. Mostly because she knows how and it’s free- $50-200 dollars is a lot to drop on braids or a press for a 12 year old. I like to think she also did my hair, and sometimes still does, for the quality time, the shared mother-daughter experience. There were the epic ten hour braiding sessions, her rushing to beat the sun, both of us struggling to stay awake, fussing about how far my neck is capable of twisting, laughing about about the latest crazy thing my aunt said. And there was the stove top rendezvous, smells of Blue Magic and singed hair wafting through the air, my mom trying to convince me that the big cast iron comb hadn’t burnt me, repeating “Baby girl… it was the STEAM,’ over and over, a smile spreading across my face as she brushed it up and put a plastic ponytail on top so I could bounce off to picture day or baccalaureate or whatever. It was old-school styling based on the premise that to be acceptable kinky black hair must be processed chemically or physically, manipulated, or constrained in some way, but I loved it.