September 20, 2012
As a person of mixed race, I always looked at my white mother's beautiful curly hair with envy and wondered how I got stuck with this kinky, messy, birds nest of an excuse for hair. My aunts, cousins, grandmother and even great-grandmother all had these manageable manes that seemed to glow in my eyes. And because I didn't have my father or his family in my life, my gullible but well-intentioned white family fell to the mercy and "expertise" of hair stylists. And after 17 long years of depending on relaxers, I decided to go natural.
Were you a long term or short term transitioner and why?
No. I did not have the luxury of transitioning. My hair was so horrendous that It was big chop or bust! I Big Chopped on December 17th, 2007.
There were a lot of reasons that I decided to go natural, but they all eventually led to and stemmed from one traumatic event. My aunt hooked me up with a stylist in Union City, NJ. Her name was Phyllis and her shop was typical of a black hair salon. There was a barber named Kofi who kept everyone laughing, and someone was always walking in and trying to sell you food or bootleg DVDs. I went there every other Saturday to have my roots touched up and have my hair pressed so good that people NEEDED to run their hands through it. I went to her one weekend and she took my halfway-to-my-bra-length-hair and cut it below my shoulders without my permission. I should've ran then. But, no ladies, I didn't and it did not end there! I went to her still, with my mother who spent about $150 every two weeks, to finally give me the hair I always wanted. And in one visit, Phyllis ruined my day, my year and my social life. She put a relaxer on me that not only will I NEVER forget, but it would be the last one I'd ever have. She applied it, like every other time, and let it sit for the allotted time, like every other time. However, this time it hurt. I said several times that it burned, and asked if we could take it off. She kept saying no, no it is supposed to burn, that means it's working. She rinsed me off and the water made my scalp feel like hot lava was being poured on it. She had burned sores into my scalp. And to put the icing on the already burned cake, she proceeded to spray said sores with rubbing alcohol, all while insisting it would help. I cried myself to sleep that night. The next day my head was completely crusted over in blood. I couldn't brush my own hair. From then on my hair deteriorated, matted, and became completely unfixable. I was brushing my hair for work one day and my bangs broke off at my new growth. I was devastated. I decided then to go natural!
What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
I loved it. I loved what it meant. I felt free and real. And oh my God! With my new hair EVERYONE thought I was a model! The attention was a real pick-me-up from the trauma I had lived with through the last months of high school. Not only that but I had a physical reaction to it. After my Big Chop I left the salon and felt the cool December breeze on my scalp for the first time in my life. THAT is a feeling I will never forget. I may cut all of my hair off just for that feeling again.. Naah!
How did family and friends react to the new you?
My family always pushed for me to have short hair. My aunt made it a special day for me. I was picked up in a town car, brought to my stylist, and we all had dinner in New York City. They ranted and raved. They loved it. They loved my second BC more because it was more of a style with my hightop fade.
I loved that they supported me, and although I didn't have their kind of hair, I felt like I could let my figurative hair down, and stop freaking out about why I don't have what they have.
What was your initial routine?
In the beginning, nothing. I was naive and didn't put in the work to make my hair flourish, which is why I BC'd a second time. After that, I used only olive oil, raw shea butter, and Garnier Fructis' sleek shine conditioner only. I only co-wash. And MAYONNAISE treatments. Like real mayo. Like I'm done putting this on my sandwich, now I'm gonna put it in my hair, mayo.
In the beginning I relied heavily on a headband, even though I had no hair. After a few months my hair went through some crazy stages. And I tried to hide that with ribbons and bobby pins.
Anything else to add?
At the end of the day, you gotta love yourself,right? That includes your hair girls!