From my heart to yours

Hair Matters

Posted on: February 23, 2011

Starting at the end of last year, I really started thinking about what I consider my definition of beauty for me. I wanted to start working on changing the things about myself that I feel need to changed and enhancing the things about myself that I like. Some of the things on my list included my skin, weight and hair. I actually love my skin so I have started exploring new makeups and things to enhance it. My weight is always a work in progress, but I have been working with a trainer regularly to help me toward my goals. As far as my hair is concerned, I decided to go natural.

Now for anybody who may be reading this who is unaware of what “going natural” means, the shortest explanation is that I will not longer be chemically straightening my hair. I am making this decision for several reasons, first, because my hair was extremely damaged. Second, because I was sooooo tired of gettin those disgusting scabs on my scalp after every relaxer and finally because deep down I’ve always envied girls who were able to meet the mental challenge of being natural.

Natural vs Relaxed (and vs weaves)

Some people don’t understand how going natural can be mentally challenging, but I assure you it is. I’ll explain: I’ve had long, thick hair for literally my entire life. I was born with a head full of hair. I have a picture of me when I was three with an afro that would make most grown women jealous. I was forced to get my first relaxer when I was 7 because my hairdresser refused to deal with my thick curls. Before relaxers we used the dreaded hot comb to straighten my hair. I was constantly asked if my hair was a weave/wig. I took pride in my hair because it was beautiful and made other girl jealous. In high school I wanted to change it, but was scared  to cut it because of how my family would feel, so instead I just got highlights and kept it long and straight. It wasn’t until my second semester of my senior year of college that I got up the nerve to cut my hair. And when I say cut I mean chopped. And I got mixed reviews. My best friend didn’t want me to cut it (although she’ll admit now that she thought it was a good look for me) and a couple of friends (mostly males) wouldn’t even compliment the change. 1 friend ran his fingers through the back of my hair and said “you can’t even put it in a ponytail” before walking out of the office. My male boss told me that if his wife ever cut her hair off it would be a huge problem. I had other reactions like this.

Multitasking gone wrong, smh

Long, straight hair has always represented beauty to many members of my family, and therefore to me. To this day, when my nana introduces me to a church friend of hers she says, “this is my granddaughter ____, she’s Frank’s daughter. She used to have long pretty hair that went down her back and then she cut it all off.” Every single time, this is what I hear. When I told her I was getting braids last year, she yelled at me. She freaked out completely about how she doesn’t understand why I want to put something so ugly in my hair. And when I told her I was going natural I received no support. When I got my second weave (that’s how I’m transitioning) she said “oh that’s beautiful, you should grow your hair out and dye it just like that. You just need a good hairdresser to give you a good relaxer. I’ll ask one of my church friend’s for her hairdresser’s number.” And today I got a new weave and she told me that it was nice. Then a couple of hours later, I overheard he talking about me to someone on the phone, she’s never been a good whisperer. She told that person that “I got that “mess” in my hair again and she doesn’t understand why I cut it to begin with. If I would just leave it alone it would grow long again. She doesn’t understand why I’m paying to have hair like what I naturally have.”  The funny part about all that is, my hair is not naturally straight the way she loves it. It is forced that way in a torturous manner that is uncomfortable and sometimes painful for me. She’s not the only person I have met resistance from. The problem of black women hating their natural hair goes way back in history. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna give a history lesson here. I just want you to understand that I, like so many other black women, have been trained to hate a part of me.

So I am going natural, with the support of my friends and somewhat of my mom. I am trying to accept that the hair that I was God given is good enough and beautiful enough. I am tired of forcing a part of me to be something different. I know it’s gonna take some work for me to change my thinking, which is why I’m making this a gradual process. But I look forward to the freedom of not being tied down by a certain perception of what is beautiful. Because let’s face it, at the end of the day hair matters are small matters in this life.

And in the meantime, I am enjoying the fun of being able to play with different hairstyles along the way!

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