Me with my natural hair at about age 5
My story is not the typical I-didn't-know-how-to-take-care-of-my-hair-so-after-I-got-a-relaxer-it-broke-off bit. For the most part all the damage/trimming/cutting I did was by choice.
I first got a relaxer at age 13. This was after begging my mother for quite sometime as I had the responsibility of taking care of my hair from around age 11 and I was FED UP! My natural hair is THICK. It would take me an entire weekend from Friday Night to Sunday night to unplait or untwist my hair, wash, let it dry, then re-twist it or plait it. I also of course wanted longer hair and I knew that once all my kinks and curls were straightened out my hair would be past my shoulders. Now I should mention that at this point my hair was already a few inches shorter than it was when I was a child for no apparent reason. Something I was confused by but not too concerned with.
From 13 to age 16 I learned how to take care of my hair and my hair flourished. I also really have to commend my first hairdresser as she made sure I had regular hot oil treatments, told me what to do between visits and always did rollersets..she was the last of a dying breed. My hair kept its thickness and was APL from age 14-16.
Then I bought my first flat iron and it all went downhill from there. I spent the summer experimenting with styles from crimping to flat ironing and boy o boy did my hair pay. It was dry and wiry and I really thought it was beyond the point of no return. At this point I had also switched hairdressers as my first one had retired. I was now being blown out and flat ironed every week which I'm sure didnt help matters. I just remember being home alone one day...staring into the mirror at my hair in frustration, grabbing a pair of scissors and chopping it off to above my shoulders lol.
My hair never really got a chance to bounce back as I started college soon after and lil Miss Go-To The Hairdresser every week could no longer do so and I had to learn how to wash, relax etc for myself. Needless to say my hair suffered for those first couple of years as any self administered trim inevitably turned into a shoulder length cut and my ineptness at relaxing also had its negative effects.
Then in 2009 I decided to go blonde and my hair began to shed and break REALLY badly, forcing me to keep cutting it back to bob length to maintain its thickness. All this time I'm still not that bothered by the length as no matter what my hair still grew to full SL with no real effort. There was however always this nagging question in my mind of how was it possible that my relaxed hair, even at its longest never surpassed the longest my hair had been while natural. I was pretty sure that I was entitled to at least a couple more inches, but had no idea how to get them.
Then one day I absentmindedly googled 'black girl with long hair' and up popped http://bglhonline.com/ I took a look at her website but I still wasn't convinced. I thought that she just had 'good hair' and probably just never took care of it properly. Then I found Hairlicious...which led to me to Hairlista..and I became a believer!
In just six months my hair is already back to a length it hasnt seen since 2003...things can only get better from here :)