CN: Were you a short-term or long-term transitioner, and why?
E: I was definitely a long-term transitioner. The last time I used a relaxer was in September of 2008, and I transitioned for 16 months. I have always had long hair. So, I couldn’t fathom walking around in public with short hair. My long hair was pretty much my identity. As crazy as it sounds, I was one of the few dark-skinned girls that I knew with long hair. Before going natural I didn’t have much confidence in myself. I thought my hair was one of the few things that made me beautiful.
CN: When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
E: I never really BC’d. I did two mini-chops. The first was in July of 2009, and the second was at the end of January 2010. The first time I cut my hair, I was slightly mortified. I had never cut my hair, and now I was going to cut off 4 inches. However, after my first mini-chop I realized my hair was curling a lot better after cutting off the relaxed ends. To my surprise, no one even realized that I had cut my hair. After my last mini-chop, I felt a sense of relief. Now I was finally all natural, but I was slightly disappointed. I had totally different expectations about what my hair would look like when I was finally natural. Watching some of the YouTube “greats” made me hope that my hair texture would be similar to theirs. Now I’ve just learned to accept the hair that God has given me.
CN: How did your family and friends react to the new you? What was your reaction to them?
E: Well, when I first told my mother I was going natural, she told me that I wouldn’t do it. She had been giving me a relaxer since I was about 5, and I had no clue how to deal with my natural hair. As I transitioned, my family, mother and grandmother especially, would always make comments to let me know that they didn’t like my hair. Sometimes my hair probably didn’t look the best. It was often trial and error. It was similar to learning how to do your hair as a child. I had to go through that process all over again. But now, everyone loves my hair. My mother has been natural much of her adult life, but she has always worn a very low cut. She would just put some gel on it. I never really considered her natural for some reason. I guess it’s because she gave it no thought. Now, she has decided to let her hair grow out and called me the other week to tell me she was doing a twist out. My 13-year-old little sister has decided that she is going natural now as well. It feels great to have inspired others to accept their true selves.
CN: How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the growth line?
E: Looking back, I really don’t think I took special precautions to make sure my hair didn’t break. Until the summer of 2009, I was flat ironing my hair multiple times a week to try to disguise my new growth. I’m still trying to grow out the heat damaged hair as a result, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever flat iron my hair again. I guess I was just lucky to have very resilient hair. I’m still working on properly moisturizing my hair.
CN: Why did you choose to go natural?
E: My choice to go natural was months and months after I got my last relaxer. To be honest, I would still have a relaxer today if I didn’t have a stylist who would discourage me from getting a relaxer when I thought I needed it. I was always told that you should get a relaxer every 8 weeks, but my stylist prolonged it for 12 weeks. At that point, I decided to see how long I could go without a relaxer. It turned into 5 or 6 months. Then, I knew I needed to decide what I was going to do. I think your blog was the first thing I found which led me to YouTube. I remember spending hours and hours on YouTube watching stories of transition. It was at that point, in the summer of 2009, that I decided to finally commit to going natural. Going natural was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself. It has encouraged me to lose weight and overall increase my confidence. My confidence has not just increased because of my weight loss, but because I have truly learned to accept and love myself. Thanks so much for reading my story.