by Bennii of Benniiblast.com

Over the last few months, I have scrolled through countless posts where transitioning women have shared their stories of mothers, sisters, boyfriends/husbands etc being less than encouraging about their decision to go natural. As a transitioner myself, I understand what it takes for someone to make the decision to change a habit of what seems like a lifetime, by letting go of those ‘beloved’ relaxers. So, when I hear the worries of a first month transitioner contemplating on going back on the lye because of the negative views of others, it really gets under my skin…

For the longest time, we have had it instilled in us that ‘God loves us no matter what we look like’, by our mother’s and father’s. If this is the case, why are some relatives quick to tell us things like; ‘it’s time for you to get a relaxer’ or, ‘curly hair doesn’t look good on you’? Is this a sad case of hypocrisy perhaps? It seems that maybe God only loves us in their eyes if we are not going against the grain and fitting a particular image. I understand that yes, it may be hard for those around you who are accustom to seeing you look one way to see this change, but to completely refuse to support someone whom you love in wanting to do what makes them happy is a real shame.

One thing that really gets to me is the cheek some people have in believing that they should be the one to make a decision like this for you. For example, you decide where you work, what clothes you wear, and what kind of food you eat because they were YOUR decisions to make. YOUR hair is growing from YOUR head so why should someone else make the decision about what you do with it? In my eyes, it shouldn’t effect our relatives lives in any way whatsoever, whether your hair is natural, relaxed or bright pink with orange highlights. It doesn’t stop you from being a good sister, girlfriend/wife or daughter, so I cannot imagine what justifiable reason there could be for this kind of behaviour.

I know how hard this journey can be sometimes and having to deal with negative remarks from family can make it 10 times harder, so here are a few suggestions that may help:

Educate and Inform:

Sit down with your family members and explain to them how damaging relaxers are to not just your hair, but also your health. Visit your favourite natural hair communities (blogs, forums etc) and allow them to see the bigger picture – they may have been misinformed which have caused false preconceptions.

Reassurance:

Let your relative know that you are the same person you were before you started your journey, and that your hair is only accountable for a small part of who you are.

Dig further when negative comments are made:

If someone in your family is constantly making negative comments about your hair, sit down with them and encourage them to explain to you why they are behaving like this, knowing how it makes you feel – try to get to the root of where this negativity is coming from

Try to ignore comments:

If comments are made – don’t rise to them. Sometimes all people want is to know they can get a reaction out of you, so don’t give them the satisfaction

Surround yourself with like-minded people:

When you feel that the lack of support from your family is really getting to you, jump on to your favourite hair blogs and read stories about successful transitioners. It will give you the boost you need. Hang out with people who you know will discuss other things than hair and will hopefully take your mind off of things. You could also avoid being around negative family members at times when you are feeling particularly vulnerable about your hair.

It takes someone who is strong and not afraid of change to make the decision to transition. You have already shown that you believe you have what it takes to go on this journey by actually starting it – so don’t start doubting yourself now. At the end of the day, we are the same people we were before we started this journey. Selfishness and pride should not stop someone from supporting someone they love in doing what makes them happy.

What we look like should not unsettle our relationships with those who truly love us.