by Chai of Back to Curly

It’s been a few years since words from a stranger or even a loved one have made an impact when it comes to addressing my natural hair. Call it a right of passage, but if you’ve ever doubted the use of the armored shield that tends to develop over the years once you embark on this journey, now is the time to pick it up, dust it off & put it to some use – it’s the Holiday Season! With Drumstick Day fast approaching and Christmas looming on its tail, I know many of us are heading towards the homes of family or even long time friends in the hopes of sharing in the joys of the season.

But before you pack your bags, remember that the “New You” has potential to be viewed by others as curious, odd, crazy, lacking poor judgement, maybe even threatening. Yeah, all the adjectives meant to initiate a few eye rolls. Now, the easiest advice to dish would be to throw up the defensive gloves and tell folks to stand in line, but believe it or not there is an incredible opportunity to both learn and teach. If you are fresh from the BIG CHOP chair, and perhaps semi- anxious to share with the world the New version of You, remember that the aim is to “be you,” and not “aim to please.” Easy, right? Okay, to put it more bluntly, “abstain from having to explain.”

The truth is you can’t eradicate every ignorant comment disguised as a halo, but what you can do is show them the authentic version of you, the person who’s grown on this journey…who’s embarked upon those months of transitioning and BC’ing to arrive at a place of great purpose.

It’s important to believe that the choice you made months, perhaps even years ago to go natural, can continue to have a profound impact on those around you. Now, whether it’s a positive impact or not is another lesson altogether. In the end, we cannot be held responsible for the reactions of others. What remains constant is the way in which we choose to react and learn from those lessons.

Unexpected change can often strike fear in those close to us and in some cases it can disguise itself as a loving gesture. You really do have to remain grounded in your own self assurance and disregard the perception of others as truth. So the best way to address the overly concerned looks of both Aunt Doris & Uncle Frank who haven’t seen an Afro or twist-out since 1978, is to be their teacher rather than your own constant defender.

But in the end, if it feels as if you’re beating a tired & senseless horse with explanations as to why you went natural in the first place, simply grab that last piece of pumpkin pie and let the masses figure it out for themselves.