TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Do a quick internet search and you're likely to find complaints from women about our hair. It's even more frustrating for women of color.
Back in the 1960's and 1970's, African American women across the country were embracing their natural beauty, and a simpler look. The days of hot combs and flat irons that burned scalps and stretched hair to the limit were gone.
Then, something changed. Earthy and ethnic was out, and relaxers were back.
At Mimie's House of Beauty in Tampa, I spoke to three generations of African American women who revealed the psychological effects of straightening their hair with relaxers.
"Years ago, we wanted to look like other people and not ourselves," Mimie said.
All seemed to agree that it was mostly an emotional thing, when it came to dealing with their hair.
"It messes with your mind because you think you're doing the best you can, and you're trying to make your hair look straight to be accepted into Corporate America," Mimie explained.
Tammie Pickett, a former model who now works in the corporate world, said her reason for straightening hits closer to home.
"I literally started relaxing my hair when I was about 4 or 5 because I am mixed. My mother is Japanese, and I really wanted that same bone-straight, jet-black hair my mom had," she recalled.
But years later, a devastating diagnosis forced her to reexamine her look.
"I was diagnosed with Lupus, and I also noticed I was having very bad side effects from the relaxer.
What happened was the relaxer was actually flaring up my Lupus, which was causing my hair to literally fall out,” Tammie continued.
Loren Jean-Felix, the youngest of the group, is a high school student who'll soon be heading off to college. She explained why social pressures, pushed her to straighten.
"My school was not diverse in middle school, so I felt like I didn't really fit in with my curly hair. That was the reason why I started processing it," Loren said.
But what she said next, was something quite a few African American women would find very familiar.
"When my hair was straight and chemically processed, I would see it's raining and I wouldn't go anywhere if I had the choice," she said.
Tampa dermatologist Thomas Taylor has seen all the twists and turns women go through with their hair.
"If you put chemicals in your hair, it changes the anatomy and physiology of the hair. So they get a lot of structural hair damage from things that people put in their hair," he warned.
And that damage can look different for each person. "If they come in for scalp damage, you initially treat the skin, or the scalp. But if they come in because their hair is breaking off or thinning, then you have to stop the product, reevaluate what they're doing and then do something different."
As for the three women I spoke to? They've all returned to the natural look, and feel more self-assured and empowered than ever.
"A lot of times it could be medical reasons, a lot of times it could be 'I want to embrace my own look, I'm ready now,'" Mimie offered.
"After a while I felt like, 'Why am I hiding myself just to please other people?’ So I made the change for myself," Loren said.
And Tammie seemed to sum it up for the trio. "Relaxing your hair is something that you actually changed to fit in with society. Don't do that. You're an individual, your hair is your crown. It's your beauty!"