I am 40 years old and my hair has been relaxed for 34 years of my life. Even as a 3 year old, I was sporting a shoulder length pressed flip as I held my baby sister in a family picture.
In my family, relaxing is not a process that is given much thought. It just “is”. There was never a consideration of wearing hair in its natural state when I was growing up. It was more of a consideration of when we could move from the hot comb to the mild relaxer (Vigorol) to the real thing (Gentle Treatment). As my sister and I grew older, our radical moves involved trying new relaxers ourselves instead of going to professional hairstylists. Fortunately, we knew enough to
keep our hair clean, conditioned, and moisturized and it managed to flourish and grow long. Unfortunately, the hot NC climate was not conducive to maintaining a relaxed style.
Fast forward through grade school to college. I attended UNC-Chapel Hill and all of my friends had relaxed hair (except for the select few that had “good” hair). The only African American girls who dared to sport their natural hair were those who were heavily involved with the Black Student Movement or who were mature enough not to care what the masses thought. I was not one of those girls.
Fast forward through two graduate degrees, corporate America, stay at home motherhood and now entrepreneurship. About a year ago, one of my closest friends transitioned to natural. Her hair was and continues to be absolutely gorgeous. However, her hair is curlier and finer than mine so I never really felt that I could achieve the same results. But then I had an epiphany! The same results were not about hair texture and curl pattern. But instead, the results were about self-love and embracing my God-given beauty. So on a flight on the way back home from visiting her (and getting a $125 cut on my relaxed hair in NY!), I decided to transition.
I must admit that my 8-year daughter was the biggest factor in my decision. Her hair is beautiful and versatile. She embraces it because it is all she knows and also because my husband and I have emphasized its beauty since she sprouted her first curls. She is probably the most stylish 2nd grader in her class with her flat twists, twist-outs, braids, and curly fros. Her teachers regularly inquire about who does her hair.
But back to me…So my younger sister (who loved long, full bodied hair) joined me on my natural journey. Both she and I have been surprised and ecstatic over our natural textures and the accompanying self-confidence it has brought. I thought that I would be afraid to leave the house with my kinky hair but just the opposite happened. My husband marveled over the new “swagger” in my step, my daughter loved that our hair was now “the same”, and I love my hair and love me!