I LOVE YOU
Be you a size 14 or a 4
Light, brown, or dark
Long hair or short…
I AM BEAUTIFUL!”
I decided to begin this with the first couple of lines from a poem that I wrote entitled “In Transition.” I think it is fitting for this occasion as it describes issues I was facing with self-esteem and purpose and it flows right into my natural hair journey. In retrospect, it’s funny that I actually wrote this before embarking upon the natural process.
I have been natural for 1 year and 3 months now. My purpose for doing so was to achieve thicker and healthier hair, but it’s been an emotional and spiritual process altogether. I am one of many who grew up getting relaxers because it was something you “had” to get done to your hair every 6-8 weeks. I never really knew how to treat my hair because it was always referred to as a “good grade of hair.” However, I never liked the fact that my hair did not have any volume to it. It was always thin and limp.
I had my last relaxer in September 2008 and after about two months I had made a conscious effort from that point on to transition naturally by growing my hair out. At the time, I could not fathom cutting off my hair. During my first couple of months, I would flat iron or rod my hair. I also wore my favorite beanie hat, A LOT (I didn’t always know what to do with my hair). In December 2008, I decided that for my 25th birthday I was going to get 2-strand/kinky twists done. I only kept those in for 1 month because the dye in the hair was irritating my skin. I had these hideous rashes and bumps around my neck.
So, in the following months I went back to straightening, wet and wavy styles, retro up-dos and rod sets (when I felt like it), but ultimately I was getting tired of having two textures. I would cover up with my beanie hats or wear scarves. The most frustrating factor in dealing with two textures is that you have new growth meshed with straight hair. I was beginning to lose my patience with the entire process. By the summer, I was ready for a change and was contemplating the BC (big chop).
In July 2009, I went to my stylist and even as I approached the chair I was still indefinite about my decision (to cut or not to cut). My stylist finally asked me what we were going to do that day and I replied to her “cut it”. Before I could even change my mind, she made the first cut. Once I saw the hair hit the floor, I knew there was no turning back at that point! What did kind of help me was the fact that she was also natural and we have similar textures so she was able to style my hair like hers (mousse and go).
It was an adjustment initially because I always had been accustomed to long hair. Nonetheless, my BC and natural hair journey has been such a liberating experience. Had I done it any sooner I probably would not have appreciated it as much – there are so many stereotypes when it comes to women with long hair vs. short hair. You have to really be comfortable with yourself and love you no matter what. For me, it felt like I had finally ARRIVED to that point. I had heard it all… I had people who told me “it’s not going to look right on you,” “you’ll look like a boy” or “you’ll look like a lesbian” (no offense). My boyfriend’s grandmother had a fit that I cut off my “glory” as she coins the term for long hair; although he liked it and went along with it (he didn’t have a choice because I didn’t tell him I was cutting it). When it came down to my girls, they showed me love! A few of them were already natural. Even my BFF decided to go natural so we’ve been a support system for each other.
If you are thinking about going natural, in the transitioning process, or even considering the BC set realistic goals for yourself and your hair. If you do it for yourself you are more apt to stick with it and save you and your hair the time, money, and frustration. Surround yourself with people who will support you throughout the process. You are a direct reflection of you, so how you react to your hair is how others will react to it.
There is no right or wrong way to transition, you get in where you fit in and move at your own pace. People will either hate it or love it (love it mostly), but what matters most is that you LOVE IT and LOVE YOU!
I’m only now getting into what works and doesn’t work for my hair and reading labels.
Prior to my BC, I was using Sunsilk products. After my BC, I started using Tresemme’ Natural shampoo with Sunsilk conditioner. My stylist uses Redken products. Currently, I’m using Organix Shampoo and Conditioner (coconut milk). I like how it makes my hair feel and it smells delightful! I also moisturize my hair with a little olive oil. My goal is to begin the Henna regimen (after my chemical dye grows out – I have a little ways to go though…)