I spent many years hiding my natural hair texture behind chemicals (relaxers). Like many women, I got my first relaxer at a young age.
Natural hair was something I never considered because, quite frankly, I never had the confidence to rock it.
I would always say things like…
1) I don’t have the right texture (We need to drop the mentality that you have to have a certain kind of texture to go natural. I don’t have shiny, defined, bouncy curls, but dern it, I’m going to learn to embrace whatever hair grows from my scalp!)
2) My hair is too thick (Some people would kill for thicker hair. After my hair thinned so much from relaxing I’ve learned to appreciate my thickness.)
3) I don’t have the right head shape (Hmm…. What’s the official head shape qualification for wearing natural hair anyway? How come no one ever says that about relaxed hair? I guess everyone has the right head shape for straight hair… even though that’s not how our hair grows naturally. It was just another excuse I made out of fear!)
4) I don’t have time to style my hair (Natural hair does take time to style, but it takes way more time if you plan to wear it straight everyday or you try to fight what your texture wants to do naturally. What’s interesting is now that I’m all natural, I actually spend LESS time on my hair overall.
Yes, wash days take several hours, but I can get two strand twists to last 2 weeks and then stretch the style another week with a twist out (see this video). So that’s 3 weeks with hardly any manipulation.
When I was relaxed I had to flat iron my hair everyday and wrap it up at night. So overall, I’m spending less time on my hair.)
Also, check out my wash-and-go puff that took me all of 15 minutes out of the shower.
Natural hair is more time-consuming if you are constantly trying to alter your texture. If I need a break, I wear my hair in its afro state. It’s so freeing to be able to accept my texture and not feel I always have to wear twists or a certain style that is more “attractive” to society.
5) Relaxed hair is just easier to manage. (That could be true depending on how you plan to wear your hair, but I don’t mind taking the extra time and learning something new if it means having healthier hair. Also, products have evolved so much over the years to help with manageability.)
So I was really just making excuses because I was afraid of how I’d look and what other people would think. And I know I’m not alone. I’ve had women tell me they won’t go natural because they are afraid of rejection by men.
What’s so interesting about that is I’ve actually had more men approach me since I’ve been natural because those that like it go out of their way to pay a compliment.
You can’t spend your life worrying about who is NOT going to like you because there will always be people who appreciate you for you.
We Need to Stop the Excuses, Ladies!
Let’s face it. We have been conditioned to believe that our hair is ugly. I know it’s hard to admit, but we make excuses because we’re afraid and we think our natural hair is unattractive. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but I made a lot of excuses out of fear.
And who could blame us? We live in a society where straighter hair is seen as “more beautiful” than kinky hair. Unfortunately history and society have taught many of “us” to be ashamed of our hair’s natural texture. Natural hair is often labeled with adjectives like “unkempt”, “ugly”, “unprofessional”, etc.
Speaking of natural hair being unprofessional, check out this conversation in the forums about natural hair in the workplace.
Imagine the impact those words have on children like me who hear this at a very young age. It really shaped the attitude I had about my own hair. To this day, I’m working to shed the wrong thinking.
Thank goodness times are changing (slowly but surely.) I know so many more natural ladies than I did ten years ago, and they inspire me. I’ve also noticed that commercials are now featuring more African American women wearing textured styles.
This is Bigger Than a New Hairstyle
This is much more than a journey about my hair. It’s a journey of confidence and setting my own standards for beauty. It sounds so cliché, I know, but it’s the truth.
It’s time for me to stop letting society dictate how I should look. My hair does not need to be fixed. It’s fine the way it is. I just have to learn how to take care of it.
Yes, there are people who don’t like my “new look”, but I am becoming less and less concerned with what other people think. Having said that though, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
In any event, here are some benefits of wearing natural hair…
1) No More Relaxer Countdowns
I am so excited that I no longer have to try and remember when my last relaxer was or wonder if I’ve scratched too much and have to postpone my relax day for fear of scalp burn.
2) I Can Embrace New Growth
With relaxers, it was like a catch 22. Of course I wanted my hair to grow, but at the same time, the new growth would hinder certain hair styles because of the two textures.
Usually around the 4th week post relaxer I would start not liking my hair as much because of the new growth. Now I embrace new growth 100%! Beautiful!
3) I Enjoy Wash Days
As a self-proclaimed product junky I am loving the exploration of new products and seeing what they do in my hair.
Having a good detangler is also key. The Knot Today Conditioner (Leave-In and Detangler) has made combing and detangling a breeze and minimized breakage.
4) The Textured Ponytail
I hardly ever wore my hair in a ponytail when my hair was relaxed. Even though my hair was often long, my hair typically thinned out as it grew. So my ponytails would look skinny and lifeless unless I curled them.
With natural hair, I can get a textured/curly, full ponytail with little effort now that I am discovering products like the Kinky Curly Curling Custard and other curl defining products.
5) Long, Healthy Hair
My hair has always grown fast and long. I can hardly wait to see what it will do with no chemicals! By the end of my 18 month transition, the back of my hair was longer than my relaxed hair had ever been.
Natural hair shrinks up so much it’s hard to tell, but I was thrilled when I realized that. I’m retaining much more length because my ends aren’t constantly being combed and heated.
I always hear people say their hair doesn’t grow. That’s not true. Everyone’s hair grows, it’s about retaining length by preserving your ends. If you take care of your natural hair, you may find that your hair retains more length thus making it look as if it’s growing faster.
Read more tips about growing long, black hair.
6) New Style Options
I would always hear naturals say that you have more options with natural hair. At first I wasn’t sure I bought that statement because when I would think of natural hair, I would mainly think of wearing an afro.
Nothing wrong with afros if that’s the style you’re after. I’m sure I will wear them from time to time myself. But I certainly want to do more with my hair than just rock an afro everyday.
But thanks to YouTube, I have learned so much about styling and have more confidence that I will be able to do a number of things with my hair once it’s in its natural state. I plan to grow my hair long so I’m looking forward to the options.
7) No More Scalp Dryness
My dry scalp problem has improved tremendously! I was having some flaking near the edges, but found out it was product build up! Now that I clarify often with Kinky Curly’s Come Clean Shampoo my scalp is much happier.
Take a trip down memory lane and watch this video of my relaxer days.