Natural hair and my identity – Part 1
I’ve been on a natural hair journey since 2009 and have debated several times writing about it here. There are a plethora or blogs and vlogs out there covering the topic (that do very well, I might add) and in the end I just didn’t feel that I wanted to only be talking about my hair. However, I recently accepted that my hair, especially in its natural state, is part of who I am. I’m not by any means obsessed with it, but making the decision to love my hair the way it grows out of my head means so much more than changing my “hairstyle”.
Before I get into my natural hair adventure, let me just clarify for those of you who may not be familiar with the term. When I turned 10, after harassing my mother for years, she finally agreed to put a chemical relaxer in my hair. Relaxer is a harsh chemical that straightens your hair – after it burns off the first layer of your scalp. No, it doesn’t really do that. But, it can burn and seriously damage your scalp and hair.
Fast forward about 20 years later and I was still relaxing my hair pretty consistently.
Then I moved to Caracas. I always say that I walked into the natural hair journey backwards because it was initially done out of necessity (most people do it because they want to live a healthier lifestyle or their hair wasn’t thriving with relaxers). There aren’t many salons in Caracas that can care for my type of hair – kinky, curly, nappy, type 4, or whatever other label is used – bottom line was they weren’t used to it. So, I simply said no more perms. I started transitioning by putting braids and every time I would remove them I’d cut a little more of the treated ends off. I naively assumed at the time that this was all I needed to do and voilà, my hair would be natural and all would be right with the world.
In the interim, I was elated when my daughter (who had also started harassing me for a relaxer) said, “Mommy, now your hair is like mine”. I was now able to stand behind my statement that her hair is beautiful just the way it is. I was leading by example. She stopped asking me to relax her hair altogether about a year ago. This is a huge achievement for me because I know what it’s like to be a little black girl with kinky hair wishing you looked more like the people on TV or the kids in your school.
I’ll tell you about the not so great aspects of my decision to go natural, as well as include a picture of my mane in all its glory in part 2…