I did my big chop on February 10, 2010 after transitioning for almost 7 months. I was unaware of how many other woman had decided to go natural and had already started their journey until I came across a video on Youtube while looking for hairstyles. I saw this woman with long natural hair down her back and she was showing her natural journey, it was amazing! I watched her cut her relaxed hair off up to about and inch or two of new growth then she showed the progression up to her being natural for one year. Her hair had grown past her shoulders right before my eyes. I had already started transitioning when I saw this video, but I had no idea I was about to learn so many new things about my natural hair. Over the next few months I watched many youtube videos about natural hair and did lots of research on what I should and shouldn’t use. I found out after doing my big chop that you just have to find out what works for you. I tried a few products I had heard good reviews about, some of them worked well and others i was not impressed with. I had originally planned on transitioning for a year, but after seeing so many ladies going for it and chopping off that relaxed hair on camera, it boosted my confidence. At six months of transitioning my new growth was really showing and it was difficult to continue blending the 2 textures together. My husband was such a great supporter, he was the one who said, “what are you waiting for, why don’t you just cut it now?” Knowing that he would still love me and support me even with just a few inches of hair on my head, really gave me that extra boost I needed.
The Big Chop
I prepared myself for the big chop, since I went to school for cosmetology, I was able to cut my own hair evenly. I made sure I had my deep conditioner, leave in conditioner, my shower cap and even some headbands and flowers to accessorize with. I’ve worn my hair short before, but never as short as I chopped it this time. I didn’t cry though, once I felt my new hair and how soft it was, I was so happy. I felt so proud of myself, my heritage, my ‘roots’. It really was liberating. When I decided to go natural it wasn’t because I was thinking of going back to my ancestors roots or being afrocentric or militant or anything like that. I had let my hair grow out a few times before and loved the styles I was able to create, but I just never knew how to manage my natural tresses (they don’t teach you much about ethnic hair in beauty school) and I always ended up going back to a relaxer or texturizer because I didn’t know how to deal with the two textures on my head. This time I learned some basic tips for managing my natural hair so I was confident when I did the big chop.
My hair seemed like it was growing so slow at first, I kept thinking “I’m never gonna be able to wear a ponytail again!”. My husband would reassure me that it was growing to make me feel better, but I still had a feeling of “what am I gonna do?”. Sometimes when i wanted to just run out of the house, I would feel the need to hide my hair under a wig or a hat. Soon I did start to notice growth (thanks to taking pictures every month) and I started trying out different styles. I learned about protective styles and how important they are to retaining length. I started seeing my texture better as it grew and was happy to find products that defined my curls and allowed me to wear it in its natural state. My comments went from “what are you gonna do to it now?” to “ooh how did you get your hair like that?” Next thing I know I was able to get a puff! That became one of my signature styles in the summer. You can wear a puff up high or down low, off to the side or with bangs, put headbands or barettes to decorate it. I love my puffs lol. When I’m not going anywhere and my husband isn’t home, I keep my satin bonnet on most of the day and try to keep it in twists or braids.
Now at 9 months post big chop I am able to pull my hair into a ponytail (with some help from gel and bobby pins) and I am so excited. It really just takes patience and knowing how to care for you hair and I believe anyone can see great results. Once you get past the first stage, if you aren’t used to seeing yourself with short hair, you will be fine. You can focus on other things like accessories and clothes. There are actually books about what colors look best on each skin tone and how to bring out your eyes etc. I would have never stumbled across some of these things if I weren’t on this natural journey. It has made me learn a lot more about myself and things I like. Trying new things is good and I’ve even started eating healthier. Having beautiful hair and skin starts from the inside. It truly is a journey, you have to make pit stops, go through construction, take detours and see some beautiful sites as well. For me, the natural journey is not just about hair, it’s about my life as whole, it has opened up a new outlook for me; how I look at other people, I am guilty of looking at someones natural hair in the past and thinking “its time for a perm” or “she got some naps in the kitchen”. I feel shamed that I used to think that way, but part of this journey led me to do research on words used to describe our hair such as, “nappy”, words used to degrade us and make us feel that “our” hair is not pretty or acceptable. I also looked up information about black woman in the past and present and why so many of us feel that we need to have straight hair to be excepted. There are reasons why we feel that way. I still like straight hair and I’m not saying everyone with a relaxer only gets it to “fit in”, but a lot of woman don’t even know what their natural hair texture is. I was one of them!
Coming to Terms with Myself
I stopped and asked myself why was i getting relaxers every 3 months, and the answer was, so my “roots” don’t show. Even after going to school for cosmetology and learning what relaxers and texturizers and colors were made of and what they actually do to our hair, I still continued to get them. WHY? I finally figured out that I was afraid to let my hair grow out because of what other people would think and how it would make me feel. To me that was a poor excuse, especially after seeing my hair damaged by a girl down here who said she knew what she was doing (had a license) when she put the last texturizer in my hair and applied it wrong, leaving my hair limp and lifeless. I decided enough was enough, I haven’t seen my natural hair since I was 6 years old.
A Beautiful Journey
Going through the phases to get where you want to be is well worth it. If you are considering going natural, do a little research, ask some questions and go for it! You can ask me anything you want. If you have no desire to let your natural hair grow out, still do some research and find out how to take good care of your hair. A lot of things I was doing to my relaxed hair were wrong and I never would have known. Remember, having natural hair doesn’t mean you have to wear it in its natural state all the time and you don’t have to do the big chop if you don’t want to. I’m so glad i made the decision to go natural. I don’t remember the last time my hair was as healthy as it is now. I wish I would have done this a long time ago!
I know this was long but I hope someone has been encouraged and educated. If you would like to share your story of going natural or if you are still transitioning, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This is my personal natural hair story in hopes of encouraging others, these are my opinions and experiences and not meant to offend anyone. All are welcome on this site regardless of what your hair condition is, chemically processed or natural. This blog has many other things to offer that aren’t focused solely on natural hair.