What I Learned From: “Going Natural” (And Why I’m Back on the Creamy Crack)

I don’t regret “going natural” 4 years ago. I mainly did so to teach my daughter to love herself as she is.

She’s worn her natural hair all her life. I started “relaxing” since about age 13 for manageability, independent styling (Mom was no longer braiding me as a teen), and to fit in.  20+ years later, I bravely did the big chop.

When I took my daughter to the airport to visit other family members for the summer of ’13, she sternly told me not to cut my hair while she was gone. “You should let it grow back and get long the way it used to be,” she said.

She missed my long straight hair, and honestly, I did too.

She had long received and understood my teachings about being ok with yourself as you look, and loving who you are.  She is 11 now, and loves the versatility of her natural hair. Her hair is always soft, and it remains curly whether wet or dry.

But her texture is not like mine.

 

In the Meantime and In-Between Time

 

Salon visit in May 2014, no chemicals
Salon visit in May 2014, no chemicals

With a Caesar-style haircut, my hair looks nice, as I have a perfectly round head shape. As my natural hair grows in a few weeks later, it’s wavy and pretty, needing only a little gel to prep me when leaving the house. But as I approach months 3 to4 post-haircut, my hair gets very coarse and hard.

Wigs, weaves and braids were suggested for me to deal with the rough in-between growth stages so that I could avoid relaxing/perming my hair again. I used scarves, wigs and braids to cover my hair during the cold months, but once it got hot, I straightened my hair with a flat iron only–no perm (see photo at right).

It was hot outside, and I’m an active person. I skipped my runs for a few days, knowing I wouldn’t be able to maintain the sleek, straight style without chemicals.

 

Epiphany

Just as I did when I started my natural hair journey, I turned to YouTube.  I found that I was not alone in my frustrations.  I found a popular hair vlogger/blogger, Lauren Mechelle, and she said something that resonated with me (emphasis added):

“I think the problem, besides having a lot of hair to manage while natural, was that you wanted your natural hair to ‘behave’ like straight hair. But it was not meant to be straight, it was meant to be curly. So it would not give smooth edges if you put it into a pony tail. It was meant to be worn out to show its thick, curly glory. So I guess if a person does mean to go natural they need to program this into their mind, ‘My hair is not going to behave the way it did when it was relaxed’.

I think what was key for me was realizing that I prefer straight hair the majority of the time , and it’s easier for me to maintain straight styles when I’m relaxed.”

BOOM. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I find it easiest to have natural hair only when it’s short.  So long story short, I went back to the “creamy crack,” aka lye, aka perm.  And I’m ok with that.

 

I learned not to hate my hair, but to embrace my own beauty.  I learned that I could do something different from my daughter and not be a hypocrite. It’s about my true preferences, and  –no pun intended– it’s a process to make such a drastic change to your outerward appearance when your emotions tell you otherwise. When you feel resistance (literally and figuratively).

The way you choose to wear your hair is your choice.  No one does my hair but me, so others’ opinions of what I should do with it don’t affect me. And likewise, I don’t judge them for their style choices and preferences.

 

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2 thoughts on “What I Learned From: “Going Natural” (And Why I’m Back on the Creamy Crack)

  1. Good for you! It is all about self acceptance and self love. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum from you when it comes to hair. Mine is straight and I spent my whole life wishing it was curly and full of natural body. Then I started coloring when I started going grey. This year I’ve let it all go, the curling, the color, I barely drag my fingers through it to brush it these days and guess what? I like the way I look. I’m comfortable with it. Sometimes I may look a little scraggly, LOL, but I’m ok with that and that’s all that matters. I’m glad you found the place where you can be a good role model for your daughter and have the look that makes you feel best without feeling hypocritical. You aren’t. You’re you and that’s the best role model your daughter can have.

    BTW found you on NaBloPoMo

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Stacie! We have to do what works. 🙂
      Side note- I have had grays since I was 22. They are in one main spot so when natural, it’s a circle and when straightened it’s a line of gray. I’ve been told over the years to color it so I’ll look younger but the gray doesn’t bother me at all–I shut them down!

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