17 years ago I “out grew” my long chemically relaxed tresses. For 25 years I was a slave to hair that practically shouted that I ascribed to the traditional image of “black beauty”, long straight, wind blown flowing hair, that revealed no trace of its kinky roots, sequestered the moment that rebellious new growth started to appear by a “standing” appointment that was never ever missed–it was as important as paying the mortgage. It told you I could walk in the San Francisco fog or jump into the sea, the only consequence was my processed locks would just lie limp, flat and close to my head no hint of any volume. It told you that I came about during a time when the “pressing comb” was considered a barbaric method of straightening, and a revlon relaxer would give you hair that could be blow dried with a round brush, just like my caucasian sisters–somehow making this method “better”.
Fast forward, I now rock my full, unpredictable kinky sometimes curly, highlighted, low porosity, WnG, deva cut, coconut oiled, pine-appled at night, satin pillow case only, “do” 99% of the time. No longer regulated as the casual summer hair style, the one that was not wore at black tie functions, due to subconscious thoughts, like–hmmmm this is a conservative group, better wear “it” straight, big kinky hair might offend somebody or cause to much attention or I’m going to wear it straight for the holidays- we are taking family pictures.
Saturday I attended a meet up hosted by LA Curly Girls, a group founded by Lydia Boyd a few years ago. A private facebook group, where curlies can exchange information, and learn more about “being natural” and attend meet ups throughout the year . It was empowering to socialize with a group of women embracing their natural hair, there were so many different textures, lengths, colors, curl patterns, all uniquely beautiful. It was especially refreshing to see young women with natural hair that were not sporting long hair weaves. I’m not here to critique the “wearing a weave” movement, I get it, it is just another approach to hair as well, my problem is women who never ever wear their own hair, almost as if they have developed a disdain for their own hair.
I know it is not easy to change, historically we are so jacked up about our “hair”, there have been books written on this topic. It is important to have a good support system when you are transitioning to sporting a “natural” style. There are so many more options than when I started my journey 17 years ago, back then there was Quidad, Bedhead and Paul Mitchell the conditioner, now every line has a natural curly hair product line. I recall dealing with so many comments that well meaning friends and family would say to me…here are the top 10–
1. “You need to get a relaxer a few times a year-so your hair can contiue grow” hairstylist
2. “Are you “mad” why aren’t you getting your hair “done?” confused husband
3. “Everything OK? Things must be tight, you stopped getting your hair done.” concerned friend
4. “Don’t mention my “relaxer” it’s our secret-my husband does not know I get my hair permed” confused friend
5. “Your hair would be so long and pretty if you straightened it” frenemy
6.”She has a husband…you can’t afford to be going around with your hair like that-not if you want to meet someone.” friend’s mom
7. “I know somebody who could do your “type” of hair.” non-black co-worker
8. “Never go to long between your relaxers, because with your features no one would know you even had a relaxer-you could pass for a girl from the islands, just don’t let the edges come in” hairstylist
9. “Don’t EVER cut your hair, because you would just be “a regular black girl” like Oprah” hairstylist
10. “Does your husband like your hair like that?” frenemy
bonus 11. “You should get your hair “done” for the party” friend
Yes. I dealt with lots of critical comments, but I have never looked back. Being “natural” does not mean perfect hair days, I certainly have my share of bad hair days, nor does it mean effortless care–natural hair is work, but I am still happy to be part of this natural society of goddesses all over world.