“Wow… where do I begin” is my response when someone asks me about my road to becoming natural. Like many naturals I began my journey after being fed up with perms. I have been getting perms since the age of 5… Yes, you read that correctly, 5! At that time everyone was getting a perm/ relaxer even the young kiddies like myself a fresh perm was a must for the first day of school. My mother always did my perms and as I got into my teen years and my early adult years, I started to go to the hair salon to get wash n’ sets and sometimes do my own perms.
Having my hair straight was EVERYTHING for me. I would wash my hair every other day and apply a massive amount of heat to it from flat irons because I just needed that Pantene Pro-V commercial hair look! Anytime I would get new growth, I would kindly place a relaxer in it so my hair would look completely bone straight. As beautiful I felt my hair was and looked at the time, I knew it wasn’t healthy, but my main concern was having it look silky and straight.
I remember wanting blonde hair so badly I went to the salon and told them what I wanted. I was warned that going through the process would cause a lot damage because of the bleach they said they had to use, but I was deteremined anyway. The stylist suggested I put highlights of blonde all over my head so that it would give an illusion of having blonde hair. To me that sounded less damaging. So I was all for it. A few days after, my hair began to fall out. I didn’t take care of it. I treated my hair so poorly after I got the highlights. I no longer knew what to do, so I made the decision to stop perming my hair and let my hair grow naturally, but that also came with a decision to wear weaves.
I wore a short weave for a month, and I then wore a long weave. In January 2011, after discovering YouTube, I watched videos demonstrating “The Big Chop”. I was inspired by YouTube sensations like Nikki Mae, Naptural85 and many others (too many to name!) That month I did my big chop, in my bathroom while three months pregnant, and two days later… guess what? I was right back in the salon getting a weave installed. After I cut my hair, I must admit, I was unhappy with it. I wasn’t used to it. It wasn’t me, at the time. I didn’t feel beautiful. So I pretty much wore my weave that entire year and let my hair just grow underneath. I continued to wear my weaves as the years went by, and noticed a great amount of growth in my natural hair every time I would remove my installations. I wanted to wear my natural hair out in the summer, but the front of my hair was so damaged from continuing to straighten and some times relax my leave out (my girls with weaves know what I mean by leave out, lol) but basically, it is a portion of your natural hair that is left out to blend in with the weave so it doesn’t look obvious that you are wearing a weave. But overall, my “leave out” began to break right off.
After a while I began to get tired of the whole process of getting my weaves done. Spending the time and the money to have it “laid” was becoming a headache. I wanted to embrace my natural hair but it was so damaged! So I wore a curly weave thinking, hmmm maybe this will work out better. But that was even more of a mess for me! lol. So the weekend of my 28th birthday, I decided to start from scratch and do another Big Chop. Although I did wear a weave for my friends wedding, after that I decided to go cold turkey. No more weaves, no more heat (straightening) and certainly, no more perms, ever!
I finally built a relationship with my natural hair after 4 years of going natural in the first place. Now I must admit, doing this was extremely hard. But letting go of perms and weaves and being able to rock my natural hair has opened me up to a different side. It has helped me battle my issues with physical insecurity. The need for acceptance of my appearance was no longer there. I no longer needed validation. I no longer felt the need to look a certain way to feel loved or be looked at. I felt free and happy when I made the decision to be natural, actively. I even tried protective styling when I felt I wanted a break from it or just wanted to protect it from challenging weather. This is the healthiest my hair has ever been and the healthiest I have ever been.
My advice to women who are considering going natural, I say go for it! Don’t be afraid to cut your hair off and start new. Do your research and figure out if going natural is something that is best for YOU. But I will always say that natural is better 🙂 And if you are concerned about the transition, that is normal. Just understand that our hair is BEAUTIFUL! Bottom line. Don’t let anyone tell you different.