Going Natural: Is It Just Hair?

You can find this lady on YouTube and this is all her real hair; natural.

Have you always wanted beautiful, long hair that cascades down your back? Most women do. That’s why weave and hair care is a billion dollar industry and Black women make up the majority who buy into it. Buying products that promise to grow your hair when in reality they are stunting your hair growth by using ingredients that make it nearly impossible for your hair to ever get passed the follicle! And if you can’t grow it, you have TLC telling you that you can buy it.

Who tells you how to grow it, though? Where are the people telling you that you are beautiful the way you are?   Not in the main stream.  Every 6 to 8 weeks, it’s time for a touch up; every month or 3 months, it’s time for a new weave. The world has no idea what your real natural hair looks like, your family doesn’t know, shoot, you don’t even know!

Why is there so much emphasis placed on making “our” hair look “better?” Why do we believe that our hair is not beautiful? Because it is different? So are our lips, noses, legs, thighs, and skin color, and everyone wants injections and tans. Imagine if we embrace our natural hair and wear it proudly like we do every other part of our body instead of trying to make it look like something it’s not. Imagine how you would feel if you studied your natural hair and grew it out and it was all yours? You would be proud of it! Why don’t we put effort into growing and caring for our real hair and wear it?  And I don’t just mean real hair, I mean relaxer free!

Many would say they don’t like their natural hair and as soon as it begins to peek through in the root area, we perm it down. I used to, too, so I know! How would you know if you liked your natural hair if you haven’t seen it since you were 6? Who told you something was wrong with it and why did you believe them? Give your natural hair a chance!

People often say it’s a personal choice or preference, which is absolutely true, but don’t tell me it’s no big deal or it’s not that serious! That’s where I draw the line! It is deeper than that. Why would you spend big money regularly (or get it done for  free for this matter) to make your hair look the exact opposite of the way it grows from your scalp?  You just like it, right? However, it looks just like European hair, Chinese, Malaysian, or Indian hair, every type of hair except your own! Something is wrong with that! It’s a personal choice to lighten the skin too, but I wouldn’t recommend that! Look deeper! Maybe you wear fake hair that looks similar to your own. If you took the time to research and learn about your hair, you wouldn’t need to buy any weave! Find beauty within yourself and not in what society tells you is beautiful. Be confident in yourself!

Look familiar? This length? This texture?

People also say that there is nothing wrong with relaxing your hair. I disagree. A perm has the same ingredients as drain cleaner. What does drain cleaner do within 10 to 30 minutes? It breaks down a.k.a. burns everything out of your drains. It does the same thing to your hair and if you leave it on too long it will burn your hair all  the way out! Think about this; people stretch their perms , which means they get them less often, so their hair can grow, and it works, so if stretching works, imagine what stopping would do.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with variety and wearing your hair straight from time to time, but there is something wrong with hating the way your natural hair looks and never letting it see the light of day. There is something wrong if you feel shameful or ugly when you are wearing your natural hair. It lies deep within. So deep it sometimes goes unrealized. We talk about each other and put each other down for being real. There is a popular saying in the natural community, “Remove the kinks from your mind, not your hair.” That is what we need to do. Hearing people say things like, “Being natural isn’t for everyone.” Really though? That is a mind boggler for me. Let’s take a quick second to define natural: 1. existing in or formed by nature 2. of or in agreement with the character of makeup or circumstances surrounding someone or something. -_- It grows from your scalp!  Moving on.  “It’s just hair,” is another one I hear.  Well, why are you doing so much to change it then? Why not just let the “hair” grow out of your scalp the way God intended?

People want what they can’t have. You’ve heard of teasing hair, shampoo for thickening, volume and body and have seen numerous tools and products to change the texture of hair. Whether your hair is kinky, curly, straight, or wavy, learn it, love it, embrace it, and don’t let anyone make you feel any less than beautiful. You are beautiful, naturally.

My Story: Why I Went Natural

Going natural never even crossed my mind. All the women I knew had relaxers or wore their hair straight, so when I say it never entered my mind to wear my hair in its natural state, I sincerely meant it.

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The days when a relaxer ruled my hair.

Until my sister opened my oblivious eyes to this world of natural hair, I had no idea that there were hundreds of thousands of Black women throwing out the perm and wearing their natural hair! She told me to look on YouTube and once I seen all these African American women with long, curly, kinky hair; like the hair I never allowed to grow from my scalp for more than three months or so before I would get a perm slapped on it. Hair similar to that, was freely growing out of these ladies’ scalps and being showcased to the world, and to me, for the first time. Some were just getting started with a small afro, while others were years into the natural hair journey. There were women with hair reaching passed shoulder length, passed bra strap length and beyond waist length! I could not believe my eyes or my mind!  It was unusual for me to see Black women with hair that long and it be real! Not only real but afro textured; natural! I was excited and anxious, but also upset!

You mean to tell me that the reason my hair never reached passed my shoulders was because of a RELAXER? You mean I was in the endless cycle of “perming, roots growing out, trimming ends?” No wonder my hair was same length all those years! I never gave it a chance! Every time it grew, I damaged it with a perm and then cut the damaged ends. How silly of me to believe that one day my hair would grow down my back if I continued this cycle. But I did, faithfully, for years and years because nobody told me otherwise.

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I had most of my relaxed ends cut off, but not all.

“You should go natural.” That’s what my sister said to me. I thought about it, considered it and once I decided to do it, it changed everything. It didn’t take much convincing for me. I had already gone about 6 months without a perm, which was longer than usual (only because I found a really good flat iron), so I decided then that I would do it. I was not getting another relaxer put into my hair.

During the transition period, I got a semi chop, cutting a lot of my relaxed hair off, but not all.  My plan was to go a year without perming before I cut the straight, relaxed ends off. I didn’t quite make it that long. After several months, I was still using heat and I had just flat ironed my hair for what would be the last time while having relaxed ends, and…

A key chain I made describing me.

It rained! My hair was a mess! Puffy roots and straight ends, I can’t even think of a character to compared myself with. I knew one thing; I was done!  I went home and asked my mom to cut the rest of my relaxed hair off.  She looked at me, eyes big, and I am sure she understood why just by looking at my countenance. So later that day, we got to work and that was June, 2010. I had my last perm December, 2009. It is now August 2013 and I am proud to say that I have been natural ever since and don’t plan to ever return to the bondage of a perm. No longer am I afraid when it rains, no more of the “perm, grow, trim” cycle, no more do I feel like I need a perm for my hair to be beautiful, or for ME to be beautiful or presentable. I find beauty in my natural hair. It’s funny because I always prided myself in being 100% real, so much that I made a keychain in high school to describe me as being such. I wore my real nails, no make up, real lashes, and real hair, but even though it was my real hair, it wasn’t 100% real because it was chemically processed to be straight. But I struggled through the transition period, passed the TWA (teenie weenie afro) stage and now have some length to work with. So now when I wear my key chain, I truly am 100% real and it feels great! I’m confident and free. I am NATURAL!

I am NATURAL!

Written by TheLaydi1

www.youtube.com/TheLaydi1

www.facebook.com/naturalkinksnaturalcurlsnaturalyou

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I’m Back! With news:-)

If you follow my blog, you know that I haven’t posted for quite sometime now.  I am still natural and loving it and my hair has grown quite a bit.  In the meantime I’ve had another child, a little boy, and my husband and I purchased a home so there has been lots of excitement goingz on 🙂 I want to share more with you about my hair and also my children’s hair since we all have different textures, I may even get my husband to let me throw in a few pics of his hair. 

Also in other Big News, my sister TheLaydi1 will be co-author of this site and will be adding lots of new topics, pictures and information! She also has a youtube channel that you absolutely must check out…. http://www.youtube.com/user/TheLaydi1/videos Her videos are awesome and she does lots of tutorials (what natural doesn’t love tutorials?!?) so check her out and leave her a comment letting her know I sent ya!

Come check the blog often and also look for posts from TheLaydi1.  as always: Rate, Comment and Subscribe! Peace

My Current Protective Style

I decided to style my hair in mini 2 strand twists for this month and hopefully it will last into next month.  Feb. 10, 2011 will be my 1 year anniversary being natural!! I already notice a significant amount of growth since i did my big chop last year and in order for my hair to retain even more length I’m going to continue to keep it in protective styles as much as possible.

This style was achieved on dry hair, just after washing and deep conditioning.  While my hair was still wet i sectioned it off into about 6 or 8 sections and applied my leave in conditioner plus a mix of castor oil and aloe vera gel.  Then i sat under a hooded dryer with big chunky twists that i put in after adding the mix and detangling.  My hair dried very soft and felt really moisturized.  Then i began twisting using Taliah Waajid’s Lock it up gel.  It took about 6 hours with breaks to take the baby to the potty.  The gel dried soft, no crunch and no flakes! I will keep you updated on the maintenance of this style.

Thanks for checking out my blog and as always: RATE COMMENT SUBSCRIBE!!!

Conforming?

Where do you draw the line?

I recently saw a video on YouTube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxMcYlmlmzE where a woman who I have been subscribed to for a while (because of her natural hair), made a video to say that she had gotten a relaxer because she was looking for a job and another professional black woman told her that natural hair was not excepted everywhere.  She claimed that she couldn’t get her hair straight enough with pressing so getting a relaxer was her only alternative if she wants to get the job she wants. She goes on to say how she doesn’t want anyone to send her hate mail or negative comments because she is not conforming, she is just relaxed until she gets a job then she is going to transition back to natural.  She says that natural hair is, “her” and that she is definitely not giving up, she was very adamant about us not viewing her as a sell out.  Check out the link if you want to see her explain her reasons and she also goes into detail about her current job and why she is looking for another.  I still like her and will keep my subscription to her channel for when she comes back, she has made really good videos in the past.  I don’t knock her for making a decision she thought was best even though i disagree.

It made me sad to see that someone whom I thought was very strong in who she is and determined to maintain her natural hair, would let her profession determine how to treat her hair.  I thought that it was indeed conforming even though she reiterated that she was going to transition as soon as she finishes her job search.  To myself, I was thinking “I would not want to work for a company that did not accept my natural hair”.  How could you lie to yourself and try to trick yourself into thinking that you are not conforming. Although I can understand her outlook and making money for your livelihood is very important, is that particular company going to respect you and keep you as an employee when you transition back to your natural hair? If a company/business can’t accept you with your natural hair, why would they respect you as a person in general and what would stop them from getting rid of you when your natural hair grows out.  Not to mention the time it takes to grow your natural hair out after having a relaxer, it takes a long time hence the “natural hair journey”.

I don’t have any issues with ladies who chose to relax because they like their hair that way, but when you are doing it for the purposes of being excepted I feel this is a problem.  What if they asked someone who has relaxed hair to go natural?  It is a degrading feeling not to be excepted because of your hair or any other part of your body.  We should not be going through this in 2010, but the reality is that people are still prejudiced and racist.  I think the only way to put a stop to it is to let it be known publicly. Take it to the newspaper and the local news and allow others to know whats going on.  There is strength in numbers.  Its time to stand up!

My question is, do you think there should be a limit as to what you should do or change about yourself personally to get a job?  Do you feel that this woman conformed?  What would you do in this same situation? Do you feel that black woman need to have straight hair to present themselves as professional?  Please leave a comment and let me know, share your thoughts and/or experiences.

These are my personal opinions and I have not been paid to express them.

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Natural Hair Encouragement

 

Background

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.

Anticipation

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.

Discovery

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 iprefer2benatural@yahoo.com

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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.