I am proud to say I am an African American woman who wears her hair "natural". That means I do not have chemicals in my hair to alter the natural curl pattern. Many terms have been used to describe my hair. I have heard: "nappy, kinky, tight curl pattern, African, thick, resistant and coarse" to name a few. I have laughed and cried over my hair through the years. Looking at social media and reading magazines, I know I am not alone. There are natural hair care groups and parties sprouting up every day. Perfect strangers have walked up to me and have made comments about my hair. Wherever you are in your hair journey....I wish you the best. I thought I would share with you a few of my "curlventures" and some of the lessons I have learned.
My mother hot combed my hair for years then chose a route many mothers chose back in the day. I was taken to a beauty salon and given my first relaxer. Mrs. Quince in Paterson, New Jersey was the first of a long list of stylists. I was around twelve years old and I was in heaven. My mother no longer had to struggle with my hair and I could style my hair with ease, until I went swimming. I had to swim in gym class which was in the middle of the day. I thought I could dry my hair and everything would be fine. I didn't know chlorine and lye did not mix. My hair broke off terribly. First lesson learned. I also didn't know that scratching my scalp before getting a relaxer was a mistake. Second lesson learned. Over the years I got it into my head that if I could stand the pain of the lye sitting on my scalp just a few extra minutes that my hair would love me more and therefore would cooperate. I wanted my hair manageable and I was willing to suffer at any cost. I endured scabs on my scalp but I had bone straight, manageable hair. Third lesson learned.
Over the years I tried everything to tame my mane. I wanted manageable hair. The length didn't matter. I just didn't want to break a comb while combing my hair. Was that too much to ask? I gheri curled, blow dried, latched, braided, bantu knotted, two-strand twisted and dreadlocked my hair. While I enjoyed the styles, I still felt like something was missing. I loved my dreadlocks but I didn't take care of them properly and it showed. One of the problems I had was that I was using too many products on my hair. I was what you called a "product junkie". Here is a list of the products I have used on my hair: mashed bananas, olive oil, mayonnaise, castor oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, honey, coconut oil, eggs, shea butter, lemon juice and vinegar. WHEW! Sounds more like salad dressing than hair products. I have also used butters, balms, hair dressings, milks, puddings and sprays from dozens of companies. Some worked. More didn't. Another lesson learned. My suggestion now? Keep it simple.
A few months ago I made the decision to cut off all of my hair. I did what is called the big chop (bc). I am sporting a twa (teeenie weenie afro) and finally....I LOVE MY HAIR!!!!!!
I go to the barbershop every two weeks. I walk in, sit down and in about a half hour he is done. There is no gossip, no RHOA (Real Housewives of Atlanta), no drama of any kind. Some women like to go to the salon and spend all day there. That is not for me. Give me a fade and an outline and I am happy.
I realized I was trying too hard to make my hair do what it didn't want to do. It doesn't want to be bone straight or "locked up". Twist outs and poufs are NOT for me. My hair thrives on as little manipulation as possible. I can say I have gone from hot comb to no comb. I prefer brushing my hair now. I realized that I can and should learn what works for my hair. Also, what works today might not work tomorrow. It takes patience. I have read books and watched countless videos. While I might love the curls and coils I see on other people....they are not right for me. To finally acknowledge that hair is just hair is another lesson I have learned. I am FINALLY being me, naturally me.
I do have one request. If anyone knows where I can find really cute earrings please let me know. Now that I am no longer hiding behind my hair, I REALLY want to sport big, funky earrings.