CN: Were you a long-term or short-term transitioner, and why?
LL: I was a short-term transitioner because I am impatient, and I didn’t plan on going natural. I just decided to do it one day when I was a few weeks away from my touch up schedule. I contemplated for about another month after that, then “jumped out the window.” I don’t remember the exact date, but my last relaxer was mid-November of 2010. If I had planned, I probably would have done it long-term with braids, etc. However, I just grew so tired of my long, damaged hair. Keeping it healthy had become such a time-consuming ordeal that I had basically given up. I loved the length but knew this was not what healthy hair really looked like. I just wanted to be rid of it.
CN: When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
LL: I did the BC on Super Bowl Sunday on February 6, 2011. My first reaction was, “Wow!” I wanted to do it for so long but didn’t have the guts. When I finally did it, I felt so free. No more dry, relaxed ends to worry about anymore, I just had to love and care for a TWA. It was strange seeing my hair so short. After a few hours in the mirror, I grew accustomed to it. It was refreshing to see that I was still the same person. Long or short hair, my face was the same face that always stared back at me from the mirror. As the months passed, I loved it even more. I now suffer from HIH syndrome, but I just consider it mini-scalp massages.
CN: How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
LL: Shock and awe would best describe my family’s reaction. Aside from a bob in high school, my hair had been shoulder length or longer all of my life. My mother, who is natural and has rocked a TWA for a few years now, pretty much ignored me in the weeks leading up to the BC every time I told her I would do it. She even went so far as to say that she couldn’t see me with natural hair. All of my friends suggested I do a long-term transition because they said, “Everybody doesn’t look good with short hair.” I agreed until one day I was at the mall with my daughter. I don’t know if it was a sign, but I saw dozens of natural ladies who looked as though they had BC’d in recent months. They were tall, short, fat, skinny, light, dark, beautiful, and not so beautiful, but they all looked great with their short hair. That was when I decided to do it, and nobody expected it. I called my boyfriend, who also does hair, and told him I wanted to cut it that night! He made me wait a day to make sure I wasn’t having a breakdown, and the next day it was cut off. When I finally sent pictures to people and they saw it in person, everyone loved it. They couldn’t believe I did it, but they thought it looked great. My friends on Facebook had so many wonderful comments, and my coworkers loved it too. Even the guys who thought I was crazy for cutting off “all that pretty hair” had to admit it looked pretty “dope.” To date, I don’t think I’ve received one negative comment. So either everyone loves it, or they’re just keeping the negative comments to themselves which is all good with me!
CN: What was your transition routine?
LL: Since I didn’t plan to go natural, I didn’t have much of a routine. I had been co-washing with Herbal Essences shampoo and a salon brand my boyfriend gave me. In the past 2 years, I’ve probably shampooed my hair 5 times. My hair likes the water. So that was enough. For moisture, Doo Grow was my go to. At first, I used coconut oil sometimes, but now I use it all of the time. I used it on my body and figured my hair would like it to. I was right!
CN: What was your staple hair style during the transition?
LL: Twist-out, twist-out, and ponytail. I understand the logic behind protective styles for both relaxed and natural hair, but I love length. I figure what’s the point of having it if nobody gets to see it. So I wore my “texlaxed” hair in a twist-out whenever possible. I would occasionally do a WNG, but the results weren’t as pleasing to the eye. Of course, when all else failed, I would rock my ponytail or a high bun. I love high buns.
CN: How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
LL: Again, this whole not planning to go natural left me without any, well, plans. I used Doo Grow on my scalp and hair after co-washes, but that was it. Most of my time was spent waiting for the next touch up. So I didn’t take a whole lot of care of my hair. Looking back, I realized some of the breakage I had was due to the fact that I was so lax about it.
CN: Why did you choose to go natural?
LL: I’ve wanted to go natural for years. I always loved the funky, curly big hair look. I’ve had a relaxer since I can remember. Chopping off all of my hair was never an option. I loved my length and thought I looked better with long hair. So that was that. Then, it happened. My 8 year old daughter, whose hair I had been texturizing, decided she had enough. She told me it burned, and she didn’t want to do it anymore. Thinking I would change her mind, I told her we’d have to cut off all of the ends, and start over. Her response was, “Okay.” Fast forward to a week later, and there she was in front of the mirror with scissors in hand. I really didn’t believe she would do it. I told her to chop the first chop, and if she was serious, I’d finish it for her. Twenty minutes later, my baby was rocking a TWA. I couldn’t believe the courage she had at 8! Her school is very diverse. Needless to say, a lot of the kids had comments to make that were both good and bad. She handled it all with such grace. Between her own confidence and a few pep talks from mommy, she was good to go. After watching her for a year and researching different natural sites to learn how to care for her hair, something clicked. I’ve always wanted natural hair. Here are hundreds, if not thousands, of women online who had the courage to cut off their long tresses and go for it. The most shining example was sitting on my living room floor watching Nickelodeon. The final straw was when her hair started growing out. She would often comment about my pretty hair. I knew her hair was beautiful, but I wasn’t setting an example. I began to feel bad for not taking this journey with her even though I wanted to deep down. I realized what a slave I was to this ideal hair image. I preferred the natural hair look but had pretty much become addicted to having long, straight hair. Unless I could wake up with curls down my back, I couldn’t see it happening for me. It was so sad. So one evening, as I was browsing the natural sites, I just decided it was time to “man up.” The total time between my epiphany and BC was no more than 3 months. I went back and forth and back and forth again before I just couldn’t stand my hair anymore. I couldn’t resist crossing over to the curly side. That day in the mall was the final straw. I cut it all off and haven’t looked back since.
I would just like to add that to all of my sisters out there thinking about going natural not to hesitate. It is the best thing you will ever do for your hair, body, and mind. You will see yourself in a way you never have before. The courage, freedom, confidence, lack of harsh damaging chemicals, compliments, and time saved will come together and make you reconsider your old views of what is beautiful. For some, the process will truly be a journey, but you will come out in the end with a new respect for yourself and your beauty. It doesn’t come in a box or a bag, ladies. It comes from within.
2 days post Big Chop