So a lot of people have asked me about my natural hair journey, and I think it is so important to share our stories and journeys. The beautiful thing about sharing experiences is you never know when you might say just the thing someone else needs to hear, and I just love that feeling!
As a child, my mom did her best, but I would cry excessively when my mom braided my hair, so finally, she chopped it off. Not a cute little afro or anything, just chopped it off down to about a half inch. Ouch.
Examples of attractive natural hair styles were few and far between back then, so around middle school, I turned to the perm. It took quite a while to beg and plead my way into getting one. I finally talked my mom into a “kiddie perm”.
Boy, there was nothing gentle about that perm. I remember it like it was yesterday, the burning, the scabs. I would bear the burn as long as I could, figuring this would make it work better, sometimes I would make it all the way to the minimum suggested time. I remember once, a little bit of the kiddie perm splashed onto the wall near the sink. We waited to wash it off until we had finished with my perm, and by the time we wiped it off the wall it had completely dissolved the paint and left an indentation in the wall. Strong stuff.
The perm was doing the same thing to my scalp, it was just better concealed under my hair. I never failed to have a head full of scabs after ever perm. Every six weeks. It even got to a point that I started to enjoy picking at the scabs. The perm was literally eating the skin off of my scalp, and what was left was the flat, limp, lifeless hair I had hoped for.
My hair still grew pretty long, despite this. It was somewhere down around my shoulder blades when I started toying with the idea of going natural. I committed to myself that once I grew out my permed hair to waist length, I would chop it off and give the natural thing a try. I went along with this idea in mind for quite a while.
It was around this time in my life that my mind was expanding rapidly, and I was beginning to [re]gain consciousness. I was learning about true history, spirituality and healthy living. The logical progression of this was that a perm no longer made sense. But mentally, it was hard to let go. Around this time, I became pregnant with my first child and I learned about how the perm chemicals could affect the baby growing in my womb. This made sense to me, as I had learned that the skin absorbs whatever is put on it, and allows it to enter the bloodstream – like in the case of drugs that are applied to the skin, and absorbed into the bloodstream. This was the final straw for me, so I stopped perming.
I did not do an official big chop. I was not ready to loose my length, so I stayed in my comfort zone. In hindsight for me, this made the transition much easier. I see the beauty in a big chop however, and think that is ultra fabulous too.
I would just wear my hair braided, basically using my dead limp ends as extensions. Gradually, my thin, dead, limp permed ends broke off and were replaced by lush, textured, full natural hair. What a gift! I loved seeing the curls come in, and how effortless it was. Yes, it was different, and yes it took longer to style and care for, but it was so worth it.
I never considered going back. After a couple (or few) years natural, I had the last scraggly straight ends clipped off my hair, and I was officially a natural for life!
Going natural for me was the opening I needed to really start exploring what lay beneath the roots. Now I am right around 11 years and still going strong. Going natural for me is not just about fabulous hairstyles, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a statement that says, I love me, and I love my ancestors. My hair is powerful, alive and made perfectly for me. I refuse to harm myself in order to live up to Eurocentric beauty ideals.
I am in love with my hair, and natural hair in general. I love the look, the feel, the versatility. I love helping people who are just coming into awareness learn about the possibilities of letting their hair do its natural thing.
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