I AM: Natural

i-am-naturalIn 2013 I made the decision to go natural with my hair. However, since I was attending President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball in Washington, DC I decided to relax my hair one more time because I wanted it to be perfect. I wasn’t at the point yet where I thought it would be perfect without it. I started reading natural hair care blogs. I was (and still am) grateful for the hair care tips. Many of the blogs are focused on healthy hair whether it be relaxed, natural, colored, etc. I was about six months into my journey when I came across a post asking people why they decided to become natural. The answers were surprising. There are people who frequent these sites who are referred to as “natural hair snobs”. They weren’t necessarily talking about their journey rather they were putting others down for starting theirs. They said things along the lines of they’ve always been natural and everyone else was doing it because it’s a fad. These folks are also the first the throw shade for any reason. As if Black women need another reason to hate on each other. I had to make a conscious decision to ignore these group of people. For the most part, there are plenty of women who share their secrets and give great advice.

Why I Decided To Go Natural

Frankly, I haven’t seen my natural hair since I was in the single digits of my life. I always had my hair pressed. When I was a freshman in high school I was on the swim team and relentlessly begged for a relaxer. It was the at-home kind, which I was happy with. When I was a freshman in college, however, my friends did a hair intervention and begged me to go to a salon. In 2012, years and years later I was just tired of my hair. I hadn’t changed my hair style since college. I had colored it but it was still basically the same. I wasn’t sure what I wanted. During the same time I was reducing the amount of chemicals I exposed myself to in my home and on my skin. I changed my laundry detergent, soap, lotion, cleaning supplies, etc. Then it dawned on me, why not remove the relaxer. While there are no long term studies on the effects of relaxer I did notice that my hair just wasn’t the same and my scalp was irritated. A healthy scalp is the root of healthy hair and perhaps I was doing myself a great deal of harm. Also, my hair is fine though it’s thick in volume, and it was dry and breaking off no matter what I did to it. So I decided going natural would address all of these issues.

What I Discovered About My Hair

I started looking back over childhood photos. My hair was always pressed or at least straightened with a blow dryer and in braids. This is understandable. With as much hair as I had (have) this was the easiest method for dealing with it. But it also meant I had no record of what my hair looks like in its natural state. I decided to transition versus big chop. The hair snob community will tell you to big chop is better and it’s just hair and it will grow back. But as my hair started to grow out it was unruly. My curl pattern is very strong. I needed the length of my hair to create weight so I could still work with it. I was very careful to keep it moisturized, especially the line where the natural and chemically-treated hair met. I discovered that my natural hair is comprised of two different curl patterns. The back is springy tight coils while the top and sides are loser waves. My hair is also very thirsty. It absorbs water like a sponge and I need to feed it twice a day every day.

My Journey Is Just Beginning

Collage 2015-04-09 17_57_41Even though I have been natural for two years and three months I feel like I’m just getting started. My goal is bra strap length hair. I scour the natural hair sites for tips and tricks and new ways to style my hair. I get a trim once every 4 months, which is the only time I apply heat. I still go to a salon for the best maintenance care available. I get to see my hair’s progress once it’s straight. I’m looking to branch out into new styles such as bantu knots. I’m also considering a weave and I occasionally wear a wig. Let’s face it, natural hair is a lot of work. I know many people who went back to relaxed hair. As for me and the foreseeable future – I am natural. I’m enjoying watching my hair flourish. And it turns out I look better with full curly hair. Everyone who has seen both, including white people, have said I should never go back to straight hair. I love my hair. I loved it before. But now I think my hair loves me back!

Is natural hair a fad? Maybe, but so what. Lots of things are fads. The recent trend with super thick drawn-in eyebrows are a fad. Women straighten their hair for many reasons. Black women in Corporate America have done it to make White people feel comfortable. Some have done it their whole lives because their mothers and grandmothers did it before them and they didn’t know any different. Women go natural for many reasons. Some want to go natural but fear doing so as Black women are still being persecuted at work and in society in general for being different and it’s easier to just go along. If that’s the case, look around. The walls are coming down. I remember a day at my workplace where there was one black woman with natural hair, now I see them increasing in number exponentially.

I AM.

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