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Curly Nikki

Nicole- A Story of Transition

By January 27th, 202125 Comments

Nicole- A Story of Transition
CN: Were you a long-term or short-term transitioner, and why?
N: I was a NO term transitioner. I was living in Japan when I chopped and was completely unaware of the natural hair “movement” happening in the States. I chopped because of my daughters.

In the summer of 2008, my oldest daughter, who was 3 at the time, came home from a play date crying and saying she wanted straight yellow hair. She was inconsolable, and my husband and I were in total shock. I was heartbroken. I figured that, like many women of color, my daughters might eventually struggle with their hair. I had no idea it would begin so soon! I kept thinking to myself, “How is it that my beautiful little girl has already found something in herself that she feels isn’t good enough and needs to be fixed?” My husband and I immediately went online looking for books about absolute self-love and acceptance. They are hard to find for 3-year-olds and even harder for 3-year-olds who looked like mine. Shortly afterwards, we moved to Japan. In 2009, I still hadn’t found what I was looking for. So I took matters into my own hands and wrote, illustrated and published a children’s book. It was entitled, “I LOVE my Cotton Candy Hair!” One day while working on my illustrations, I looked over at my daughters, and it hit me that I can tell my girls that their cotton candy hair is beautiful. However, the example that Mommy sets by chemically straightening her own hair will speak louder to them than anything I could ever say. So without a word to my husband or my daughters, I went into my bathroom and started cutting. I happened to have braids in at the time, and I just cut them off. My hubby came in and caught me. He said, “What the heck are you doing?!” I blurted out my reasoning, and that was the end of the conversation.

CN: When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
N: My chop happened in the spring of 2009. Again, I didn’t put any thought into it. I didn’t mentally prepare, and when I looked in the mirror, I hated it. I thought I looked like a boy. I immediately put braids back in my hair. After about 4 months, I was ready to wear it short.

Nicole- A Story of Transition
CN: How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
N: Everyone was very supportive. I’m super blessed that I have wonderful family and friends. They already knew about the book I was writing. So, when I told them I cut my hair off, it made sense. I can’t be the author of a book entitled, “I LOVE my Cotton Candy Hair!” if I can’t even go 4 weeks without touching up my new growth. In fact, after I chopped, one of my friends told me what was going on in the States and suggested I Google “Natural Hair” to figure out what to do with it. That’s how I found you!

April 2010

Nicole- A Story of Transition

CN: Why did you choose to go natural?
N: I’ve worn my hair a million different ways. I say if you want to rock it in a fro, braids, weave, or wear it straight, curly, or bald, then do it!

For me, the decision was about laying a foundation of self-esteem and self-love for my girls that couldn’t be shaken. At age 12, I went from an all Black elementary school in my all Black area to being bused to a “gifted” middle school in an all White area. I remember a little girl turning to me one day and asking, “So is that what nappy hair looks like?” Some kids laughed. I remember how I felt inside. I had a flood of emotions and wanted to hit her. I had no idea how to respond and don’t even remember how I eventually did respond. Looking back, I don’t even think she was trying to be nasty. She was just a little White girl who’d never known a Black girl before and thought that question was okay to ask. I won’t say that her question was the thing that did it, but shortly after that, I started begging my mom for a relaxer. When I was 16, she finally said yes.

If someone were ever to ask my girls if their hair is what “nappy hair” looks like, I want their response to be, “Well I don’t know about nappy, but my hair is fabulous!” I also want them to believe it! My decision was to tell my girls that the way God intended for them to be is beautiful and perfect. They don’t have to be or do anything else to be better. There IS nothing better! My girls are so young that I could only make that clear to them by living it. I can’t say that it was a piece of cake for me. There were times I left my home feeling more self conscious than I care to admit. That insecurity was short-lived but it WAS there. I just faked it until I made it! Now I’ve been natural for a year and a half. I am absolutely in love with my hair and can’t believe there was ever a time when I thought it was less than fabulous. I’m never going back!!

Oct 2010

Nicole- A Story of Transition
New Years 2010

Nicole- A Story of Transition


  • Anonymous says:

    I must buy this book for my 2 year old. I can totally relate to your story. I'm transitioning right now because of my daughter. She was upset when she couldn't twist my hair like hers and I realized then that she definitely notices the differences between our hair. I don't want her to think mine is good and hers is bad because mine is straight and hers is actually like cotton candy. Natural hair is gorgeous and I want her to know it and feel it, therefore I am going to lead by example. Thanks for sharing your story….and your hair is fab!!

  • MommieDearest says:

    What a wonderful story! It made me feel all gooey inside, LOL! You and your hair are simply gorgeous. I know your daughters are beautiful as well. I'm going to buy your book for my neices.

  • Nicole Updegraff says:

    Wow! First let me just say thank you!! I am almost emotional over here reading all of your kind words :).
    The best part of it all for me is that I was not only able to help my daughters see beauty in their hair but, like Anon#1 points out, this book has done the same for other people's daughters. As a parent that means so much to me, seriously, I can't ask for more than that :).

    @ Joyzcurlz & Anon #3- the Oct 2010 style is a 3 day old twisted, bantu-knot out. This is my go to style for when I want big hair. After a wash or co-wash I put about 12-13 twists in my hair. Then I take each twist and make a bantu-knot. I have to do this to stretch the hair cause my curl pattern is extremely tight. At night I use my fingers (no comb) to re-twist and knot for the next day. It takes about 3 days for my hair to get as big as I like it.

    @Abstract- my NYE style is actually a tutorial that I found just before New Year's Eve on this site. It's the Natural Updo with Jamaican Braiding Hair by MsVaughn and it was posted on CN ~ the first week of December 2010.

  • Rayna says:


    My daughter (now 7)used to dislike her hair. She constantly compared it to her white friends' hair that was long and "moved." When I decided to go natural, I told her that I was cutting my hair off to be like her. She was uber excited when I told her that when it got long enough we could wear puffs together. I knew we had come full circle when she told me the week after I cut mine off (very short) that she wanted hers cut too. I know that being natural has made me a better hair handler. I try new things with her hair in order to "practice" for when mine grows. She loves it and is much happier with her hair. When I asked her if she was happy she adamantly told me, "yes!"

    Thank goodness we are passed the hair that "moves" stage…with the help of a mother who learned that showing is better than preaching.

  • Anonymous says:

    Your hair came out so pretty, and it grows at a really good rate. So happy to hear that you did this to show what having healthy hair can be for a little black girl. I'm sure that your little girl is very proud of her mommie. YOur picturer for the Oct. 2010 is so fluffy and lite that it makes me want to play in it. My hair is so thick that I wouldn't dare have someone do that to me, w/o bringing back some knubs for fingers lol….

  • Anonymous says:

    Just a Great Story Nicky! And because of you i finally ut mine OCTOBER 2010! I am rocking the afro now but I found an excellent stylest that can do me! I love it and you know what i dont care if people look at my ID 5 times to see if its really me! And I enjoy being an ass when people act away to me because of my unkept hair! Girl Power Rocks!

  • Abstract says:

    What a great story! I too am excited about a new generation who is actually TAUGHT how to both CARE for and LOVE their hair. Btw, I love your NYE hair!! How did you achieve the look?

  • Alta Angel says:

    It is so wonderful that our daughters have served as inspiration for us to embrace what God has gifted us naturally!

  • Anonymous says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to see this new generation of black women who were taught from a young age that there's nothing wrong with the way God made them. Just what I needed to start my morning 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Love this. Talk about charity begins at home. I will definitely look to purchase this book as personal encouragement.

  • bonni says:

    Wonderful story!!!

  • Erica Price says:

    Awesome story! I had a similar experience which led me to my current journey of transitioning to natural hair. My little girl (5 years old) told me last July that she wanted "flat hair like the other girls at the pool". My heart broke, and that was the day I vowed to never put another relaxer in my head. I couldn't very well expect her to believe that her hair is beautiful if I was straightening my hair every 6 weeks to make it "flat"! We are going to buy your book tomorrow after school/work!! THANK YOU 🙂

  • mimismom says:

    Good for you Nicole! I BC'd in July 2010 after my 7 y.o. daughter told me she wanted "flat" hair like mommy. That broke my heart and was all the motivation I needed to get rid of my relaxed hair. I'm now 8 months post BC and I'm loving my hair (except that damn frizz). BTW, love your October 2010 hair. Beautiful!

  • Anonymous says:

    your october 2010 hair = fierce…love it!

  • Anonymous says:

    I've heard good reviews about your book! Congrats! You are beautiful and so are your curls!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great story. I have been telling my daughter (she's 11) that she can't have a relaxer for about 3 years now. I have to lead by example.

    Your hair is the BIZ-NASS, especially Oct 10. I would like to know how you achieved that look.

  • Yirssi says:

    I love this story. I don't have children yet, but I was thinking just the other day that if God blesses me with any girls that I want them to look at me and know that they are beautiful just as they are. When that time comes I'll def be checking out your books!

  • Anonymous says:

    Im buying that book! I dont have any kids yet….But Im preggo with my first and its a girl. Im gonna read it to her as soon as I can. Thanks for this story of transition!

  • Nikki Aimee says:

    YAY! Nicole, I just purchased "I Love My Cotton Candy Hair" about a month ago for my 2 year old niece. It was her Valentine's Day gift from me and my sister-in-law says she absolutely loves the book and wants to read every nite for bedtime. 🙂

    I remember checking out your blog (which is how I found out about the book) when I would read your friend, Brianna's blog. You look FAB in your natural curls! Your curls are beautiful, Nicole.

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG!!! That is one of the best Natural Hair stories I have read…We always say what we will do for our kids but you not only said it..YOU DID IT!!!. You sacrificed what you perceived at the time to be your “beauty” and found your true essence in the process… No matter what accomplishments mommy attains in the future your daughters, friends and fans will always put your unselfish act number one on their list!!! By the way, I love the title.. Every kid, big and small (me), loves cotton candy and now a ton of your readers with similar hair textures will equate their hair to something “GOOD” and loved by all!!! Parenting at its best!!

  • joyzcurlz says:

    Your hair is absolutely fabulous! I especially like the Oct 2010 pic. Please share your process for achieving this look.

  • PhenomenallyMe says:

    Beautiful story! Great step serving as an example to your daughters. It is heartbreaking to see a young child dealing with self image issues and that was a very very amazing gesture you made for you baby girl! I hope to be half of a great mother as you seem to be!

  • Tahlove says:

    Beautiful story. You are serving as an awesome role model for not only your girls but little girls everywhere. Awesome!

  • Luscious Mahogany says:

    I love your story and the fact that your girls motivated you to write your book!! I think it is so hard for some kids to embrace their hair textures and sometimes to be accepted by their peers. I love your natural and the styles are very fitting for your face!!

  • Bitty Boss says:

    You and your hair are just gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your story 🙂

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