Holding On When All Goes Wrong

I used to bask in the thick silkiness of my hair after a relaxer. I absolutely loved it, and was totally addicted to the crack. I would walk out of the beauty shop feeling like one of those girls on the hair commercials. Switching my head from side to side, smiling, and waiting for that fine man to come hand me a rose (the last part never happened). I would go out with my friends, feeling like I looked fabulous; and knowing that the entire world agreed. Skip 7 months ahead, and that hair commercial girl has vanished—and there’s just me.

So what happened to that fabulous chick? Well, truth is I’m finding her somewhere inside. The fabulous chick is in me, I’m just learning to express it in another way. I’ve been transitioning for 7 months now. The road has been bumpy for me because my hair health took a dive for the worst. I’m trying to get my hair back on track now, but holding on to the hope of one day having a head full of natural hair is difficult. It’s especially difficult when your hair is behaving strangely, is unhealthy, or is just difficult to style—mine is all three. Here’s the story.

My Story

I graduated from college May 2009, right in the middle of the recession. I’ve always been an ambitious girl, with dreams bigger than my body. But needless to say, I had a very difficult time finding a job. I searched for months on end, and eventually landed a position, but I hated every minute of it. I was extremely unfulfilled. So here I am, in one of the most difficult times of my life, and I’m thinking, “at least I still have my lovely healthy hair”—NOT!!!! I started to notice that my hair was very thin in the front. And then my hairdresser told me it was thin all over. Nobody, in my entire life, has ever called my hair thin.

That was my breaking point. I decided then that I would go natural, because it would be the healthiest thing for my hair. Plus, I was getting bored with relaxed hairstyles, and I wanted something new. But I couldn’t shake the crummy feeling I had every morning when I would look at my hair, and see the thinning. At this point, I wanted to rock some of the natural styles I see on curlynikki.com—but my hair was so dead that I was even starting to hate it.

Hair Envy

With the drastic change in my hair, my confidence was shaky. I would see other naturals with huge afros and my insides would turn with envy. I wanted it so bad, but I was nowhere close and making very little progress. I would count the months since my last relaxer, and I would try to gauge where my hair should be compared to where it was. That only increased my hair depression and hair envy. I felt like I was back in grade school trying to be friends with the long hair girls.

Where I Am Now

I’m 7 months into my transition, and things are not looking much better. I have very little new growth, and my hair is still thin in places. Sometimes I feel like I hate my hair, and I feel horrible about it. But I realize that I have to stop thinking about hair as my central being—I am so much more. If I had my way, my hair would tell the world that I am bold, sophisticated, and not afraid to be my true self. But right now, my hair isn’t saying any of that. Right now, it needs to be nursed back to health and I may get a scalp biopsy soon (pending a current treatment from my dermatologist).

I feel like I have every reason in the world to get a relaxer—just to get that old confident feeling back. But I won’t, for so many reasons. Black women have so much of their identity built on their hair. Whether it’s straight, curly, long, or non-exsistant—our hair styles tell the world something about us. And I want my hair to reflect how I am building an identity outside of fabulous hair (relaxed or natural). I am finding a me that I initially couldn’t see—the fabulous chick is making a comeback.