I began my natural hair journey about 4 months ago, joining a long line of sisters who are doing the same thing. If you ask them why they did it, you’ll get as many reasons as the people that you ask, because the motivation is not the same for everyone. Some do it because their relaxed hair is damaged and they need a fresh start. Others begin the journey because they find themselves in a locale where access to black hairstylists is limited, while others do it because it is the trendy thing to do. There is no judgement from me either way. However, I am 100% clear about the fact that for me, it is UNEQUIVOCALLY a political statement.
While I don’t subscribe at all to the notion that women who choose to relax their hair hate themselves or their culture, for me, going back to my roots is the physical manifestation of my internal and external rejection of any and everything that I associate with white supremacy, especially in today’s political and social climate. And yes, beauty standards fall into that category, in my opinion. However, as “woke” as I may be, this journey has not been without struggle…the biggest for me being that I had to face the fact that, I, like so many of us, have been indoctrinated with a culturally disaffirming notion of beauty. For me, learning to love what I see in the mirror is just as much about embracing and affirming my #blackgirlmagic as it is about rejecting the contrary.
Although I am still in the beginning stages of this journey, here are a few things that I have learned so far:
- If you are not 100% comfortable in the skin that you’re in when you begin this journey, the process is going to be that much harder. As I stated above, my natural transition has less to do with not liking relaxers and more about making a political statement. As someone who is unapologetically black, I was eager to embrace my naturalness…or so I thought. What I wasn’t prepared for (and nobody told me) was that the hardest part of this natural hair journey is getting used to seeing (and ultimately loving) myself in my natural state. It pains me to even admit that I struggle with not feeling “polished” enough, as if “fried, dyed, and laid to the side” equals polished. Initially, I found myself wanting to slick my edges and wear more blowouts than protective styles. However, I am learning that no amount of edge control, makeup, or even the most expensive flat-iron can bridge the gap between loving what you see in the mirror in your natural state and loving the “made up” you. Don’t get me wrong. There is NOTHING wrong with makeup, earrings, or blowouts, but if you don’t love your naked-faced self with your hair all over your head, you are not where you need to be, sis.
- “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again” (Aaliyah, 2001). This is my third attempt at natural hair just this year alone. After getting a relaxer in December 2016, I decided that I would be natural in 2017. I made it to March before caving to the creamy crack again. My rationale was that if I had a little more length, it would be easier. The second try was after that March relaxer. Once summer hit, and having a little more length from the March relaxer, I was excited about being able to wear protective styles (braids, twists, etc.). In fact, so excited that I was certain that I wouldn’t find myself sneaking to Sally’s early one Sunday morning (when I was sure that I wouldn’t run into anyone who would talk me out it) to purchase a Soft and Beautiful. Wrong. After the Atlanta humidity wreaked havoc on my hair during my family reunion in June, I couldn’t get to Sally’s fast enough when I got back home. So I am now on Attempt #3, 17 weeks post-relaxer. The difference is, this time I know for a fact that I’m not going back.
- Pinterest is a great resource…but you have to know your hair type. Just because you saw a cute natural hairstyle on someone else does not mean that style with look the same on you. Your hair texture is your hair texture and you have to be ok with that. I don’t have a clear understanding of what a 4B, 4C or anything of that is, but I know that my personal #hairgoals idols always have very thick full hair…and I have recently had to accept the fact that my natural hair may not be as full and thick as I had hoped.
- The natural hair journey is expensive. Don’t think that by not getting relaxers, you will save money. Finding the right natural hair care product line is a matter of trial and error. I have tried so many different lines and combinations of different lines. After spending an exorbitant amount of money on products, I have finally settled on a mix and match of Shea Moisture and Cantu…for now. As I continue the journey, I am sure that I will try and like others.
- Your natural hair journey is YOUR natural hair journey. Just because the big chop worked for someone else doesn’t mean that you have to go that route. On the flip side, just because someone else chose to transition gradually doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the big chop. Your BFF may swear by a certain product but it may not work for you. Some people co-wash, some don’t. Some slick their edges, others don’t. Some don’t ever straighten their hair, while others get weekly silk presses. Always be ok with doing what works best for YOU.
If you are like me, there will be times during this journey where you will want to throw in the towel. Don’t do it. Stick it out. If you have already been through the journey and are already fully natural, what advice would you give to those who are in the struggle?Also, what are some of the things that you have learned about yourself as a result of your natural hair journey?
Pic: My natural hair after a wash at week 16…