I can’t believe it’s been four years already. Most women say that they went natural for conventional reasons, but my story is a little different from the norm. I went natural because I never got to enjoy my relaxers. Two weeks into my relaxer, my kinks would come in with the wrath of Africa, and I couldn’t do anything with my hair. I could barely part it and the texture difference between my virgin hair and my relaxed ends was too much to bear. I eventually got to a point where I asked myself “why bother?” My sister introduced my to YouTube and I watched naturals and transitioners flat Iron their hair. I never knew I could do that, so I decided that I wouldn’t get a relaxer. I would simply flat iron whenever I wanted the “straight look.” This was strange for me because having my natural hair styled as a child always reduced me to tears. I was so distraught that I begged for a relaxer with the intent of making the process easier on me. I got my last relaxer on the 22nd of November, 2010 and eventually cut the rest of my relaxed ends off in April of 2012. Now, I had no plan for my natural hair when it was not going to be straight. Since deciding to no longer relax my hair, I have only flat ironed it three times. I’m too lazy for it and I’m not keen on spending money to have it done. I haven’t used heat all year. I went from wanting to flat iron once a month to exclusively living the bun life. It actually makes perfect sense because I always kept my hair out of my face when I was relaxed. I always wore banana clips and curls. Chances are, your natural hair will not change your style.
Speaking of change, many people were not on board with my decision to no longer relax. Family members were concerned and sometimes would poke fun at me and my countless fails. My family is like that. We laugh at everything. I will admit that I was upset sometimes, but I was mostly frustrated with my hair not doing what I wanted it to when I wanted it to. I was still learning and there were no resources to help. I could ask anyone to help me what to do with my relaxed hair, but everyone seemed clueless when it came to my kinks. Even the blog posts were no help. That’s when I realized that there is no standard with natural hair. You cannot outline the perfect styling process, routine or recommend perfect products. There is too much diversity with hair in general for people to fit specific molds even if they have the same curl pattern. My sister and I are both kinky haired, but her hair responds more positively to manipulation than mine. It’s too much to deal with and there are many surprises. I have two distinct textures and an intermediate texture, I became a product junkie while I embarked on a quest to find the perfect product, I had to figure out how to use certain products, and I had to find the balance between products and techniques. It was frustrating and overwhelming. Natural hair can deliver a severe blow to your confidence. At times, I didn’t feel pretty. All I wanted was hair that would behave and I couldn’t control that. I went from a place of comfort, to a completely foreign space with my natural hair. Sometimes the natural hair community did more harm than good. I considered relaxing it and I really had to reflect on the decision that I made.
Because the decision to flat iron didn’t work out, I learned to care for my hair without the use of heat. I realized that sometimes you will have bad hair days, people won’t like it, and your reasons for remaining natural may differ from your reason to go natural. Sometimes you won’t feel pretty, you might even feel like you’re incompetent. I took a more universal approach when dealing with my hair. It took a while for me to figure out difficult problems that I have had growing up, so why would my hair be any different? I had gotten so used to knowing how to do so many things that I forgot how difficult the learning process could be. I took a hard look at what other people did and found a way to make that work for me and my hair. I really went through a journey with my hair. I’m still learning. I have many things that I would like to try to do with my hair, but my main goal right now is to just enjoy it.
What are some challenges that you have faced during your natural hair journey?