“Turn your head to the side.”
“Why? ” I asked.
“Just turn to the side.”
I turned and looked in the mirror in front of me and to my dismay, horror even, the edges of my hair were thin, very thin. What was my friend helping me do? Putting in the cream that will chemically straighten my hair for a few weeks. Even after my initial reaction to my clearly damaged hair, I still wanted and allowed my friend to put the creamy crack into my hair.
That was 2012, and the very last time I used a relaxer.
From that point on, my hair was always placed in a bun or underneath whatever hairstyle I desired. At that point, I was transitioning without realising it. The summer came and with the break from university, I had more time to truly understand natural hair. It was a whole new world that I didn’t know about and need not know because I’ve always had relaxed hair. I devoured information online and keenly booked marked videos, screen shot pictures and read blogs about natural hair. I finally became fluent in the language of natural hair: transitioning, the Big Chop (something I was too nervous to do) and the LOC method just to name a few. After 6 months of transitioning, I was ready to cut off the rest of the relaxed ends, and for someone who loves long hair and would wince at the tiniest of trims, it wasn’t that big of a deal, in fact when I saw the relaxed ends; wispy, thin and lifeless on the floor, I thought my hairdresser should cut more off!
However, after the initial elation, I thought to myself how do I rock a short look? My hair pretty much had been past shoulder length for many years, since school in fact. What was I going to do with my new short hair? Put it under a lace front wig of course! How convenient, just take out the cornrows underneath, do my regular wash and moisturising routine, re-cornrow and pop the lace front back on. Perfect!
I realise now that I wasn’t confident about my natural hair at that point. What I did know is that new naturals obsess about two things: length and the perfect hair product. I would measure and pull on my hair to see how far it had grown. I obviously thought my hair was magical since I only checked the precious day. I also had a full A4 size sheet of paper with a list of the products that I HAD to try; yes this is the product junkie stage. The wealth of information out there is incredible; unfortunately this was information overload for me! However, I trudged along with my natural hair, taking care of it to the best of my abilities learning along the way.
So a year to the month, I stopped putting the creamy crack into my hair (Naptural Anniversary?) I debuted my hair to the world. I can honestly say people were positive about it. I got the obligatory, “OMG you cut your hair!” but that was to be expected. I was definitely more confident and knowledgeable than a year prior. I could walk down the street and be comfortable with the hair I was born with because guess what? Natural hair rocks!
It’s funny how much you compare your hair to others when you have natural hair. In my relaxed days, I would notice if a girl had a nice weave or braids. However, having natural hair, I felt my hair was inferior. Why wasn’t my twist out like hers, why isn’t my hair more bouncy, my ends always feeling dry!?
Fast forward three and a half years and I still sometimes have this attitude towards my hair. I get frustrated that a hair tutorial I copied to a tee, doesn’t give me the same desired results. However, these feelings do come and go and for the most part, I’m definitely in love with my hair. What I also love about natural hair is the community side of it. The words of encouragement from other naturals, the hair inspiration, a problem or query that others are keen to answer and even that small knowingly nod or smile to another natural headed girl in the street. I don’t see natural hair as a trend; it’s here to stay. I’m so glad I made the decision to embrace my kinks and curls all those years ago.