Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere it should be well-known to everyone how much of a phenomenon the natural hair movement has become. The natural hair community has grown endlessly of women giving up over-processing their fine strands with relaxers and texturizers and learning to embrace their natural roots. After ten years of slathering the creamy crack onto my thick wild hair, two years ago I decided to part ways with the lye and embrace my kinks and coils.
Way before I decided I wanted to fully transition into natural hair, I always thought about it and would frequently mention it to my stylist. As soon as the words “natural” would come out of my mouth, her responses would be something like this “if you go natural I am going to charge you way more to do your hair” “Your hair is way too thick for you to be trying to go natural, it will be hard to manage” “If you go natural I cannot do your hair anymore because even with a perm your hair is too hard to manage”. Yes, she really said such foolish things to me and this foolery was coming from a woman who wore natural hair herself and claimed to be a hair dresser. Then you have poor me, the young girl who sat in this beauticians chair had no words to say to this so-called stylist that was managing her hair for years. The fact that she told me she would no longer do my hair if I went natural left me speechless. Who say’s something like that!
All my life no matter who put their hands in my head, they all have one thing in common, to quote each and every one of them “damn girl, you have some thick hair”. My thick hair and the fact that I am practically handicapped when it comes to styling hair is the reason why I consistently relied on the relaxer to do the dirty work for me. In my head, I always thought maybe my stylist was right, even with a perm my hair is still extremely thick and difficult for me to even handle, how could I possibly go natural.
I continued to pay her for styling my hair until one day I had enough. I had a short cut at the time and I was in the stages of growing my hair out. I was used to her putting clippers to my head because I frequently shaved either the sides or the back of my hair off. I was very clear this time that I started growing out my hair so there’s no need to shave anything off. I sat in her chair as she pulled out her favorite tools to use on my head; scissors and her clippers. My hair was wild and in different stages so I let her do as she pleased as long she didn’t cut off any length. Well about two minutes in, her clippers were in my hair and I noticed hair dropping to the ground. When I looked in the mirror, my hair strangely looked like it wasn’t touched but I didn’t understand why hair was falling to the floor, I asked her what were the clippers doing to my hair and then the words that came out of her mouth next almost put me in a coma y’all.
“Girl your hair is so thick, I can’t do your hair while it’s all thick like this so I’m thinning it out with the clippers so I can manage it” WHAT! Did she really just say that to me? I immediately had to call out to baby Jesus and ask him to comfort my distressed soul. This woman didn’t even have the audacity to ask me for my permission to thin out my hair, she just did what she knew how to do best and figured since she couldn’t cut it off she could thin it out. Now I’ll be honest with y’all, I was a punk. I froze in my seat and with a fire burning inside of me as I sat there with baby Jesus on my shoulder and allowed this woman to continue doing what she considered styling my hair.
I did what any person would do after that and decided to part ways with this woman. I was placed in the hands of a beautician through a friend and after going to her for a few months and being pleased with her service, I decided I wanted take a chance at being natural and with no hesitation she gave me what I wanted. I decided to freestyle and did a big chop and transition at the same time. I cut my hair into a Mohawk and transitioned the middle of my hair. During this phase I enjoyed having funky hairstyles and experimented with everything under the sun with my hair. I knew nothing about taking care of natural hair, I watched very little YT videos and I continued to flatiron my hair while it was in its transitional process. I relied on my beautician to do anything and everything to my hair since I had no idea what to do with it myself.
I eventually grew tired of the mohawk about a year later and decided to grow my sides out. At this point the middle of my permed hair was now gone. As my sides were growing out I grew more and more frustrated with my hair while it was in its awkward stage. The moment that I saw my sides were long enough to get snatched up by some Kankelon braiding hair I made my way over to the African hair braiding salon and I never looked back. I loved everything about my braids. It was so easy to style, manage and take care of. It was also a protective style for my hair so I felt like I was doing myself a favor. I got to sleep in an extra thirty minutes every morning because I didn’t’ have to worry about doing my hair. I didn’t have to worry about heading to the salon for a wash and set and I definitely didn’t have to worry about the humidity puffing out my hair. Then after consistently braiding my hair for six months, I realized I also didn’t have to worry about the looks and the perceptions of others about my hair in its natural state, and that’s when I realized I wasn’t doing myself a favor after all.
I was hiding, yes having this hairstyle was very convenient and the main reason why I chose to continue to do it, but secretly a part of me felt that there was no way I could walk into my office with my natural hair being free and loose. What would these people think of me and my hair? That’s all I kept thinking about. I grew tired of having braids in my hair; I also grew tired with having to spend $165 every three months to get my hair done along with paying $60 every three weeks to retouch the front of my braids. This was putting a dent in my unemployed non-paid internship pockets. The last thing left for me to do would be to wear my real hair out to work and sacrifice my extra thirty minutes of beauty rest every morning.
My hair was in a very awkward stage since I had originally cut my hair in to a mohawk, which I was tired of. I then made the decision to cut my mohawk off and cut my hair lower so that my hair could have a chance to grow out evenly. As I sat in my beauticians chair and looked at myself in the mirror as she began to cut away, I began to have an internal conversation with myself… girl, what the hell are you thinking, you’re going to look horrible. How the hell do you plan on styling your hair being that short, you know damn well you don’t know how to manage all that hair on your head? Oh, I know what I’ll do; I’ll buy a wig just in case it becomes too tedious to manage. Heiffa, you broke! You ain’t got money for no wig, don’t tell me you tryna buy one of those cheap beauty supply store wigs, you must be crazy as hell! Omg, I’m right, a decent wig will cost about $100. My broke behind ain’t got money for that. Lord Jesus, what did I just do to myself!
Yes, what did I just do to myself? By the time I had a chance to realize what a mistake it was for me to cut my hair, it was time for me to swipe my credit card and walk out the door. I went on that day feeling like I just threw away my high-ranking self-esteem, a big chop to my hair ended up being a big chop to my esteem and confidence. I did what any girl would do and shared my sorrows with my friends and desperately craved their opinions of my hair. Well everyone seemed to love it, everyone except me.
And then my friend asked me a question that put a halt to my irrational misery. What don’t you like about your hair? Good question, because I have no idea what I don’t like about it. The cut came out similar to the picture I had given my stylist, my twists looked wonderful and yet I didn’t understand what I didn’t like about my hair. I then had to give myself a hair consultation and dive into my unconscious realm of thoughts and tell my inner hidden psychic material to keep it real with me.
You want to know why I don’t like my hair. Because when I go back to work and see my clients and fellow co-workers people are probably going to wonder what the hell did I do to my hair? This fascination probably won’t come from awe and wonder but from an ill-favored and unseemly view. I sat there and pondered, and I pondered, and then I continued to ponder until I finally decided to come to my senses.
Since when do you actually care about other people’s opinions? The last time you tried to pay one of your bills with somebody else’s opinion that transaction declined. The last time you tried to have somebody else’s opinion write a paper for you that fell through, and the last time you had somebody else’s opinion do your hair for you…. do I need to go there? Welcome to my inner thoughts, this is how I rationalize my behaviors and decipher whether someone else’s assessment and belief of myself deserves any merit. But of course, my clinicians cap was still on and I had to get at myself even harder and go in for the kill.
By the way, who even said that people wouldn’t like your hair? You haven’t even gone to work yet, so who gave you word that your clients and co-workers were going to be turned off by your new haircut? Who told you that people at work were not used to seeing women with natural hair? And besides, these people are coming to this agency because of their battle with drugs and alcohol and here you are thinking that people are going to be consumed with your hair. Your hair is not going to save anyone from relapsing on drugs and alcohol, your hair is not going to help anyone with ambivalent attachment styles and your hair is not going to help anyone with maladaptive behaviors. But yet, here you are acting like your hair is the center of the universe.
Maybe you need to go look in the mirror, pick up your self-esteem and stop projecting your negative judgments of your hair onto your clients and learn to love it, when you learn to love it, it will make everyone else around you love it because you wear it with boldness and confidence. Girl you know better, you’ve been tackling this self-appreciation thing for too many years for you to be acting like this over some damn hair that belongs to you anyway, you obviously can wear it however you please. It’s yours dammit!
You damn right its mines! I allowed my rational thinking to win this time and didn’t give into my fears and uprising insecurity. I come across so many people in the natural hair community trying to find a way to “fit in” with society’s standards for hair. We try to attain the perfect Bantu-knot for that upcoming job interview because we don’t want prospective job employers to be intimidated by our huge wild hair. We have to find a way to straighten out our strands with no heat because there’s no way we’re going to that cocktail party in our dresses and heels with a huge crown of wild curls on our head. We have to find the best up-do style for that upcoming date because we don’t want to scare him away with our mane. And if you don’t fall into this category I’m sure your self-esteem went tumbling down a flight of steps during some point of you trying to embrace your natural hair.
I get it. At this point everyone gets it. What I really want to get at is no matter what, be who you want to be, do whatever it is that you want to do and stop flooding your mind with your own negative thoughts. We can be our own worst enemies, judges and tormentors. The slightest imperfection to our beauty can cause us to go into a frantic and swear that the world only defines us by the strands on our head, the make-up on our face and our hourglass figures.
So to all my natural sista’s who are either fully transitioned, partially transitioned or getting ready to start out on their journey, remember to simply love everything about yourself, and that includes your hair. For those who are struggling in different departments, the same goes for you. When we love every part of our genetic make-up there’s no room for anyone else to try to slander what we already know as beautiful.
… And just to add on, everyone at work loved my new haircut. But that wouldn’t matter if I didn’t learn to love it myself.