Hello naturalista (or future naturalista), 17 years ago I decided to become natural again; that was the day I took my first step into learning who I was as a black woman. I’m so excited to share my natural hair journey and if you keep reading, I’ll share five tips that will help you embrace your natural journey.
I mention becoming natural again because I was natural years before that. My natural journey started the day I stormed into this world. We don’t think about us as babies being natural but we are! We’re glorious little black and brown girls with a natural crown on our heads.
I was the cutest little teeny weeny thing with a ball of fluff on my head.
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My mother never wanted her daughters to have straight hair. Maybe it was the way my parents raised us but I didn’t have a clue my hair was different. I knew my cousins got “the perm” but I didn’t comprehend what the big deal was. The only thing I understood was whenever I got my hair braided for the week it hurt and my relaxed cousins didn’t cry as much in comparison to me and my sister.
We suffered from people who didn’t know how to do handle natural hair. Our hair needs a soft touch, it needs that extra attention and what my hair got was a fine tooth comb and a raking motion.
When my cousins asked, “do you want to look like so and so – so pretty, and it won’t hurt…” of course I said yes.
I was 9 years old. All I heard was pretty and don’t hurt. After getting permission from my father (behind my mother’s back) I was fully relaxed and immersed in the world of chemicals and burning.
Let’s pause – instead of being a kid and enjoying a life of afro puffs, I endured a life with chemicals seeping into my scalp. Why do we do this to children? Children, who look up to us as parents, aunties, uncles and their fav cousins, who see us as the best friends – why do we abuse that trust and taint their innocence?
Our black history starts with us being afraid of our true selves and being afraid of embracing our unique beauty.
I never took to the permed life. I rebelled in the name of Kunta Kinte. When I had the opportunity to leave that world I never looked back.
Going natural again wasn’t easy
The second leg of my journey started in high school and back then being natural wasn’t trendy.
You can figure out what that meant; my ass got teased to kingdom come. I was one of about twenty girls in my entire high school that had curlies and kinkies. I don’t know why I didn’t give up…the vice principal asked why I cut my hair off, the principal asked why, the guidance counselor asked if I was going through things at home.
Still, I rocked my TWA (Teeny Weenie Afro) and eventually found friends who would braid my hair for me and helped me feel comfortable with the choice I made.
From there I went to college (uni) and my hair grew, grew and grew! After graduating I started creating my own hair products and my hair got healthier and stronger.
What made 16 year old me say I want to be “natural” was looking at my mommy. She had gone natural a few years prior and I just keep saying I want to be like this fearless queen – her hair was fierce, it was healthy and she was healthy. All I wanted was to be like my mommy (and dammit, I still do!).
How this journey helped me blossom
People think your hair journey is mainly about the growth of your hair, but for me it was also about the growth of my mind.
Originally, in college, the natural hair forums I visited mostly promoted the idea that being natural was the only way to love yourself. If you had a wig or weave you were mad at yourself and your blackness. Back then I ate that shit up.
I’m so happy I evolved from that frame of thought. I do believe the natural journey allows some people to tap into a part of them they never knew before and I also understand for others, it’s just hair. Going natural helped me define my blackness but I know it doesn’t make me better than anyone.
Presently, I’m only worried about my state of being and if I’m loving myself the way I need to. I have no right to run around declaring who’s a true natural or true black woman. Can you imagine?
I’m a black woman with black features boo…
Being natural allowed me to embrace my bare, basic self. I am comfortable with my Jackson 5 nostrils, I love my big lips, I have a relationship with every acne scar on my face and my skin is so beautiful to me.
I know this amount of love for the features that make up this black woman are all due to me going through that journey.
As a teen, I couldn’t hide behind a wig or even makeup so I learned to move forward. I pushed forward with my big lips, eyes and nose. I pushed forward with my kinks.
Can you imagine walking through halls and people pointing at your head as you walk by? Or being the only natural girl in a room all the time? Not some of the time but all the time. I learned very quickly to block the hate and believe in myself.
Even today, I know I might not be the prettiest but damn I’ma act like it.
Being natural, I got looks, I got tsks, people shook their heads at me but I had to learn to walk past that with a strut in my step. I refused to let anyone strip me down to the level they felt I should be at because of my hair.
That is my personal testimony.
In my years of afros, twists, twist outs, wigs, baldilocks, I’ve learned quite a few things about this natural life. If you’re ready to go natural here’s 5 tips to help move into that new state of being:
1. Build yourself up for feedback
At one point every woman in my house was natural! Many women do not have that support system. Women starting their journey face disapproval, face being made fun of and in some drastic cases are even cut off from family and friends.
Be prepared for a variety of reactions but if going natural means something to you, look past the negativity.
2. Be realistic about your texture
Natural hair comes in so many textures and you can have more than one texture on one head! A lot of newbie naturals think they’re going to get that “mixed chick” curly texture. You might and you might not.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting or achieving a curly look, when I want one I can do a twist out or I can pop a curly wig on.
At the same time I will not sit and pour a bunch of curly creme related products in my hair for it to constantly look the way “natural hair” is presented in the media. Forcing your hair into a specific type of texture is equivalent to relaxing it.
3. Don’t be afraid to wig/braid/weave it out
There are still some people who think if you have weave or wigs you are not natural. Screw that. These styles are a great way to grow out your hair underneath (transition) if you are not comfortable with cutting it off initially (the big chop).
They’re also good styles to protect your hair, especially during the colder months and they’re just fun to wear regardless. Be sure to let your hair rest in between and keep it moving. I personally have two wigs staring at me right now and I’ve been natural.
4. Learn how to take care of your hair
People love to say “natural hair is so strong” but our coils need just as much love as anyone else’s. Taking care of your new hair is going to be completely different from relaxed hair!
You’ll have to learn how to do everything differently. From combing your hair to learning how to wash it, everything will be different. Also, what works for one natural doesn’t work for another. My hair doesn’t take to heat at all while other naturals can straighten their hair without any problems. It’s all about learning what your hair likes. Ya’ll better click them YouTube links…!
5. Natural hair is for everyone
People will say someone is too ______ for natural hair. Shut. The. Hell. Up. Natural hair is for everyone!
A lot of times it comes down to that person not knowing how to care for their hair, which is why it’s so important to learn how to approach your hair.
I remember one of my aunt’s kept forcing her granddaughter’s hair into a kinky pattern using coily cremes and in the end, it just damaged her hair. My aunt kept complaining that natural hair was not meant for her grandchild. Nope, she wasn’t allowing her granddaughter’s texture to thrive and forcing her hair into what it wasn’t meant to be made the experience a negative one.
I can look at a woman and almost always know what the best style for her is but many women are still figuring out what natural means for them. That’s okay! That’s part of the journey. Don’t let anyone talk you out of embracing what grows out of your head.
Bonus Tip: It’s okay if you decide to leave the natural hair life behind. While I think it’s a healthier choice and it can be life-changing for some, I also understand it’s not for everyone. Don’t feel forced to stay natural if it’s not working for you.
I could go on and on but it’s a blog post, gotta cap it somewhere. Even after 17 years in the game, I’m still learning things about my hair.
We can still manage to be on trend and experiment with our beauty routines without tearing down our natural state in the process. May you rock your natural with all the powers of the ancestors this BHM!
Let’s chat! Would you go natural OR how many years have you been natural? Let me know below.
My 17 Year Natural Hair Journey Helped Me Love Myself More
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