‘If I wanna shave it close or if I wanna rock locks…that don’t take a bit away
from the soul that I got’…India.Arie
So from the last post (which was a decade ago), I’m sure y’all got the gist…I wasn’t in love with my new hair. I kinda smiled with myself for my bravery and stepping out my comfort zone, sure that with every step out of the salon I’d feel better…Embrace it…Walk into my melanin magic. A few ‘texture shots’ and I left the salon but every progressive step felt like dread.
Now I don’t know about you guys but my go to for feeling better is a chat with my best friend. Nothing like a little gas up and reassurance for the soul..except when it backfires. I called my best friend telling her about my big chop yadda yadda and of course her next request was to switch to FaceTime Video. No matter how I felt I switched to video ready for some validation; what I heard next was laughter, not like a chuckle, a full-bodied laugh. Now between us we make our jabs and legit there are never hard feelings involved but I was already feeling super sensitive and self conscious and there I got off the phone dejected.
I immediately ran to the mirror and took a full look at my ‘new’ hair. For the first time in forever I felt ugly…just not beautiful at all. Now what had changed since I left home that morning? I was wearing the same outfit that I thought was cute, my smile was the same, except for a little food baby my body was the same and surely my character hadn’t changed; more importantly when I left home that morning I felt beautiful. So…if with one hair ‘change’ I was feeling unattractive, the only conclusion was that I attached my beauty to my hair. Could that be right?
Now I’ve always believed that you’re never fully dressed until your hair is done but this was different. What was my definition of hair being ‘done’? What did I classify as beauty in hair? How did I classify my own beauty? I’ve kept using quotations in when saying ‘new hair’ and ‘hair change’ because in a way, it wasn’t. This was my hair, my natural curls, my birthright and it was the version of myself that I felt most uncomfortable and unrecognizable.
I also had to confront if I was a hypocrite. I’ve had several friends who had gone on the natural hair journey and I was supportive, I loved their curls, I loved their representation but now that I had now started on this journey, that ‘ugly’ word creeped in. The irony that I wanted Mr.Man to ‘accept me in all my black girl magic glory’ (see Part I of this post), when apparently the biggest struggle was going to be for me to do the same.
Man I cried and in between tears rotated which friend had to hear about my hair and revelations about myself. My friends really are some VIPs. They know that once I’m on a topic there is no way I’m going to shut up about it, yet they not only tolerate me but are there for me in meaningful ways (in both the big and small matters) and for that I’m so appreciative.
One of my rocks reminded me of what my natural hair was. After I expressed that it was bringing me to an understanding of my prejudices against my own hair and concerns that everyone would ask why I did it, he said to me:
And I felt ok. Those words gave me the courage to not make a weave appointment or the next day and to try to navigate my spaces confidently. Fake it til you make it and all that good stuff.
I made a promise to myself that until I felt just as beautiful with my natural hair as I did with all other variations, natural hair was going to be here to stay.
Hold up, I haven’t shown you guys pics yet!
First on my road to acceptance, finding my angles. 💁🏾♀️
So remember I did this before travelling. Big mistake. I washed my hair five times in the space of three days. I’m still learning but there are a few lessons this particular journey is teaching me.
My first lesson: Do some research
My best friend will tell you that I’m one of the most methodical people. I live on pro/con lists and risk/benefit ratio. Did I ever reseach natural hair or caring for it though? Nooooooo. Now for anyone thinking about big chopping or transitioning…don’t be like me. I legit thought wash and go meant wash annnddddd go! The lie detector determined that was a lie. I got on a flight with a small jar of Eco Styler Gel after using it the night before. 10/10 would not recommend. My saving grace was that I was in a foreign country and that allowed me a sliver of anonymity.
Lack of preparation aside, I still rocked it though!
Just want to reiterate, finding out what LOC, LCO, moisturizing and sealing are after a whole week of being natural…life doesn’t have to be that hard.
Lesson #2: Have an open mind
To be honest, I went in with expectations of what my hair would look like. These expectations were based on what I saw natural hair looking like in popular and social media (you can see why I was wrong about the wash and go) and also based on what my hair was like in childhood. Curl dysphoria is a real thing. (Like for real, by definition, but I digress). I wanted my hair to look a certain way, behave a certain, fall into place. I certainly didn’t account for whatever shrinkage was. And that’s not what it was meant to do because remember, ‘it’s the only hair that defies gravity’.
I’ve allowed myself to embrace whatever my hair does on any given days, the different textures, how it responds to different products, how it loves water and shrinkage is my favorite game to play.
(I know i look like 12 in this pic)
I still haven’t given up the hope of finding my hair twin, my person on YouTube or on social media with my exact curl pattern, porosity (genetic makeup). It may seem a tad bit impossible but I just want to know exactly what products that person uses so I can try to replicate and take the trial and error out my life. But again, that’s half the fun.
Lesson #3: People who need people are the luckiest people in the world
Barbra Streisand said it in 1963.
I think everything in life, no matter how simple or complex puts us in the path of others and presents an opportunity for us to grow a community among each other. From the friends who started the hair journey with me with the first meltdown to the ones who immediately when I made it social media official, gave me hair care and product advice, encouragement, and shared their anecdotes on their individual experiences…I’m grateful. A really special shout-out to the customer attendants in the hairstores. When I landed back in Barbados I went straight from the airport to the store armed with the knowledge from my DMs and then gained a larger community of support there.
You’re really never alone in anything and there’s always someone who can relate and is willing to share.
So this is now month 10 and guess what? I’m still natural!
…And I Love it!
I’ve gained an appreciation for the beauty and versatility of my hair. To be honest, life in lockdown and restriction time would have been a struggle for me if I wasn’t natural. Instead of relying on my hairdresser, I started to rely on myself…and KH. I experiment, I try new things, I get frustrated when styles don’t work out and I give myself two snaps in the mirror when they do. I’ve even done a cut to reshape it.
The questions I asked every morning before work in those first few weeks ‘Does my hair look untidy, unprofessional? What will patients think? What will my bosses think?’ are a far way from me. This is MY hair and anything that grows from my scalp could never be wrong.
And now I’m in a mental space where the natural hair doesn’t need to stay anymore. But I want it to….for now. It’s not a need because I know I’m beautiful whether I’m dressed up, dressed down, with straight hair, a fro or my go to high puff. This is honestly the healthiest my hair has been in over a decade and I’m excited to see how much it can flourish.
Don’t be alarmed if you see me out and about with a little something something I have on special order *cough* a weave. I can do it because….just like ‘dah beach is mine’, this head is mine to adorn with whatever crown I wish; no validation or permission needed to just be.
Feel free to drop a comment on whatever lesson you picked up from your own hair journey.
PS.Tonya, just open the salon. Please and thanks.
6 thoughts on “I Am Not My Hair…Part Deux”
I am so proud of how you are embracing your journey. You have a healthy head of hair. Keep in up. Your positivity brightens any room and has also encouraged me to stick to my natural journey. Being natural is about exploring all the possibilities and things your hair can do. Endless styles. Trial and error is good it helps you to learn your hair, what works best for you! This journey is an individual journey, yes many may be on a natural journey but the journey is yours, it’s your discovery, your embraces and most of all the journey is YOU.
Keep it up, and I look forward to seeing you flourish and grow on your journey.
Proud of you chica👍🏼
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It’s all about the community and inspiring each other! I’m super proud of you too! 🤗
This is lovely!! I never realised the mental struggle for some with their natural hair journey. So happy you have embraced it!
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Thank you! The mental struggle was real but happy to be in the place I am now
Returning natural calls for more of a psychological metamorphosis than society initially let on. When I did my big chop it was at a time where there weren’t many naturalistas yet, there wasn’t a Cantu, aunt jackies, Shea moisture. There were a few odds and ends products stamped as natural but were just re-branded greases! I remember feeling so uncomfortable in my skin, and desperate to find a style, a regimen, youtuber that could tell me how to make it look cute. As more and more women started embracing their hair and there was a sense of community I started to feel more at ease but it takes some real strength to be able to view yourself as just as beautiful with your natural hair as with straightened hair, weaves or braids. Thankfully over time you begin to see that your natural self is the most beautiful version of you there could ever be!
Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Your photos are gorgeousss 👌
All of this. That psychological metamorphosis part is so true.
Thank you for sharing and lending your insight 😘