Meet Charrish F.…this Caribbean curly shares what it was like being natural in high school.

CN: How long have you been natural and what was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
I went back to my natural self when I was sixteen in 2001. So that’s 9 years of natural love.
I did the Big Chop (back then I didn’t even know it was called a BC) the summer that I was sixteen. I had stopped relaxing my hair on my birthday in April and boy did it grow. My mother cut my hair for me but she cut it too low in my opinion. Man I had a fro and she cut all of that! Lol, but even though it was lower than I wanted I still loved it. I thought I looked like an African princess.

CN: How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
My family is super supportive of natural hair. All the women in my family have been natural at one point. My mother and my aunt are natural and they were giving me tips, told me I was pretty, all of that. The guys in my family were just happy that I was happy.

Outside of the home was another story. Being a teenager and being natural in high school was brutal. The first day of school with my new hair everyone just stared at me, some kids would run up to me and laugh and run away. The guidance counselor asked me if I was a rasta and if that’s why I went natural. She had this “intervention” with me. She brought in these popular girls with relaxed hair and asked me why I didn’t want to be like them. One day I just had enough and I broke down in tears, ran to the only natural haired teacher and just fell into her arms and cried. She didn’t say a word but held me. But I am proud to say I never once wanted to go back to relaxers during those years and my true friends stuck by me with my new style. It’s crazy cause now I have people from high school days admit they want to go natural and ask me for advice. I should charge them a fee.

CN: What is your current routine?
I don’t feel like I have a routine. I probably wash my hair every two or three weeks and I use natural oils on my hair. I am beyond insane when it comes to putting anything with petroleum in my hair. My mother chases me with hair grease all the time and I have to find ways to avoid her. I like to make my own hair conditioners, moisturizers and even shampoos on occasions. Living in the Caribbean (I’m from the Turks and Caicos Islands!) we have a lot of “down home” or local hair remedies and I might do some of them from time to time. I also go into the sea and shake my hair. A lot of natural sisters down here, especially the ones who have dreadlocs, like using sea water on their hair. The one thing I am sure about is twisting my hair at night because it keeps my hair nice and soft and using a bonnet or scarf at night.

CN: What are your go to styles?
Twists, twist outs and my fro are my styles of choice. I’m not an experimenter with my hair but whatever style I wear I wear it proudly.

CN: Why did you choose to go natural?
The biggest reason why I went natural when I did was because I didn’t know how to handle relaxed hair. It’s so funny everyone says that they don’t know how to handle natural hair but I couldn’t deal with relaxed hair at all! Plus I started looking at women I looked up to, especially my mother and my aunt, women like E. Badu and Lauryn Hill and I saw how these women were super sexy and confident. Also being natural just seemed to fit my personality. I’m an artist, I have this calm mellow vibe, I am always speaking out against something and the hair seems to go with all of those things. It adds to my sexy.

I’d like to encourage any woman trying to go natural; remember your hair texture might not be the same as the next girl’s but embrace whatever your new texture will be and embrace the new you. Going natural will change you. I got tough going natural in my teens but it also helped me discover me at an earlier age. It has been a blessing and never a curse, my hair is sent from God and my hair is me. Don’t let anyone discourage you.

And on the days when it gets tough and you start to doubt, you start to get crazy looks and people ask you what’s going on with that nest on your head just ask them “You jealous?” and move on. Cause you’re natural and that’s how you roll.