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.
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!
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!!
New Years 2010