The first time I BC’d I was headed off to college in Atlanta and my scissor-happy hairstylist mother and I compulsively chopped off my APL relaxed hair to less than an inch. Growing up with her has resulted in frequent dramatic hair cuts (flashback to the texturized Shari Belafonte ‘do she gave me at age 7), but this was the first time I wore my natural texture. When I walked on campus for orientation, the first girl I saw had the most beautiful head of hair- raven, thick, BIG, and super curly. I definitely had a major crush on her hair (shout-out Sienna!), and I dreamed of having something similar with time. To style my TWA, I would apply conditioner liberally and do single strand twists all over. EVERY. DAY. Eventually that got old and I began to wear it picked out in a fro sometimes. Either way, I had to drench my hair everyday and apply conditioner, it was the only way I knew how to deal with it. While I received compliments frequently, I didn’t get as much attention from guys as I had been used to when I was relaxed. Sadly, a year after BC’ing I caved to insecurities and relaxed again.
During a short stop in Jamaica my senior year, I had waist length Senegalese twist put in, left them in too long and my roots started to loc. I had the bright idea to comb them out using a bottle of conditioner and a fine tooth comb. Needless to say, I ended up with thin wispy NL hair that looked a lot like cotton candy! I guess you could say that was the beginning of the end. I became a slave to a mad cycle of weave reliance.
I lived in Houston for a year after graduating, and struggled regularly with blending weaves with my hair. None the less, believe me when I tell you, I EARNED the name “unbe-weave-able”! I rocked so many styles, helped along by the fact that my boyfriend’s(now husband) mother is the Queen of Weaving, and she hooked me up on the regular. It isn’t hard to figure out why there was no end in site for my addiction…
I moved to L.A. to start grad school. I didn’t know anyone, and didn’t feel like looking for a stylist to maintain the weave. I finally just removed the weave and cut off enough hair to have a somewhat “healthy” chin length bob. Although my hair was relaxed, it still had enough texture that I could wear it “natural like”. Of course I had a few stringy straight pieces in the front that I had to curl after blow drying. Ironically, “natural like” is pretty high maintenance, so wearing my hair this way was rare. At some point I over-processed my hair and all of it became stick straight, “natural like” was no longer even an option.
Eventually I became a grad school drop-out and lived aimlessly in L.A. for a little over a year. I took odd jobs here and there, one of which was a receptionist position at an upscale hair salon. This is when I had a huge “Aha” moment. One of the stylists with a large black client base would frequently blow out natural hair (type 3-4) and it would be absolutely GORGEOUS! Full of body, volume and silky straight! On top of that, his clients maintained these blow-outs throughout the week and they looked great, better than relaxed hair. Granted, I grew up in a hair salon, but all of my mothers clients wore their hair relaxed, so I had no idea this was even possible. I was mesmerized and most definitely taking notes. I immediately began transitioning and blowing out my own hair, meticulously copying everything he did.
A few months later, I took another random job as a property manager. This job required I spend hours sitting in the leasing office. I surfed the web A LOT. After a random google search one day, I fell head first into a world of natural hair blogs and forums that rendered me wondered, intrigued, and obsessive… I fantasized daily about BC’ing. However, the insecurity I felt in undergrad still lingered. The war between the desire for long flowing hair and the desire to BC raged within…
Around this time, I found out I was pregnant. This exciting HUGE life change definitely gave me the push to (again) compulsively cut off my relaxed ends. I used a pair of office scissors while at work stalking a hair blog, lol! I had about 4 inches of natural hair when I was done cutting. I had several somewhat loose pieces in the front, maybe 2b? The rest of my hair was a mix of 3c/4a so I struggled with an acceptable looking wash and go and for the most part continued to blow-out my hair.
Then I moved to Texas, got married, and had a son. For the record, Southeast Texas humidity and my straightened hair have always been bitter enemies. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that my straightened NATURAL hair faired extremely well. My biggest straightened hair problem came 4 months postpartum when my edges thinned dramatically and didn’t have enough weight or length to stay smooth and straight, and even when they did get straight, they would stick up crazily “Alfafa” style. Gradually I started wearing my hair natural more and more, and sometime at the end of 2009, I started wearing it natural exclusively. I don’t see myself straightening regularly again, maybe once or twice a year. Wearing my natural hair has introduced a new element of fun in my life. It is kind of like a mini hobby. My grandmother and two of my cousins have stopped relaxing their hair with me and I LOVE playing in their hair. It goes unsaid that every time we see each other, a styling session will be in order.
all natural blow-out
Growing up in a salon, I really internalized the feminine rituals of beauty. I found comfort in the automatic bonding and communion between women fostered by these rituals. On the flip side, listening to beauty shop talk and advice from my mother led me to believe that the results of these rituals was intrinsically linked to how one was perceived and treated by men, and somehow this should be validating. I’ve grown up over the years, and thankfully realized that I don’t need or want to be validated- not by my hair, not by male attention, not by other people’s approval. Accepting my hair then learning to love it has been a process and a byproduct of my spiritual journey. Sometimes I want to get all preachy to those friends and family who are not natural (specifically the 2 who have relaxer induced bald spots and disappearing edges), but then I have to remember that I have been through a lot to get where I am at, and my story is my own.
2 day old twist-out