Archive for the ‘Self Image’ Category

Natural hair and my identity – Part 2

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

As promised, here’s the continuation of my natural hair journey following part 1.

So, it can’t all be roses, right? The negative aspects – actually I’ll just call them the nuances because nothing about this should or could be negative – is how OTHER people react to my hair. I get people, including perfect strangers, who offer to relax and/or straighten my hair. The best are those who try to convince me of how much prettier my hair will be if I straighten it. As little as three years ago, those comments might have swayed my decision. I would have become insecure about my “attractiveness” with my hair this way. However, I actually find these remarks funny. My response is “No, I want my hair to look like this” right after I laugh out loud. Whether it’s a look of confusion or disappoint that comes next, I’m still convinced that my hair is beautiful.

Here’s what I’m working with now…

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And I love it! Almost 3 years after deciding one day that relaxers were no longer the “easiest” method for me, I am still learning about what works for me and how to style my hair. Thank goodness Youtube has an abundance of natural hair tutorials from simple people like myself, otherwise I’d still be lost. I probably have a while to go before I would consider myself a pro when it comes my hair, but I’m in for the long haul. I am so happy with the decision that I made, even though initially it may not have been for the right reasons. It still amazes me that liking my hair the way it grows out of my head is considered radical as opposed to letting sodium hydroxide sit on my head every 6-8 weeks.

What started out as a way to manage my hair with limited options has turned into a self-discovery that I am not willing to negotiate because of what makes other people comfortable. Quite frankly, I’m okay with their discomfort. As a matter of fact, altering my hair by adding harsh chemicals to it now makes ME uncomfortable and that is NOT okay.

Natural hair and my identity – Part 1

Monday, February 4th, 2013

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.

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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…

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