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After about a gazillion false starts over the past five years, it was this July when I finally joined the hundreds of thousands of Black women foregoing relaxers. I said buh-bye to my Phytorelaxer Index 2 and hello to a world I’ve never really known since I was in elementary school.
Though I’m only three months in, here’s five things I’ve noticed so far…
1. I’m not anti-straight hair or anti-relaxer. It happens once in a while when I mention I’m giving up relaxing; a friend or an associate starts to slowly defend their reasoning for their every-six-weeks touch-up even though all I said was I wasn’t perming any more.
Just because I decided to go natural doesn’t mean I’m going to picket in front of Dudley’s headquarters protesting perms. Nor will I be on Jamaica Ave (Queens, stand up) grabbing hostages to convert them. My reasons for going natural aren’t after some big profound self-reflection about European or African standards of beauty. I just wanted kinks. And one day maybe I’ll get a weave.
2. People look me in my hair during conversation instead of in the eyes. I’ve got these great big ole eyes that on any given day are adorned with volumizing mascara and a hint of color framed by some really nice brows (thanks, Rajni), but now that my kinks are showing all the attention goes there. It’s actually pretty hilarious when I see someone’s eyes slowly go to my hair when they’re talking to me. Like I know they’re thinking “OHHHH EMMM GEEEE”. Cracks me up every time.
3. Your hair does start to break off at the decarmation line. I’ve been reading up on natural hair for years now and I knew that the relaxed part of your hair could break off in some spots. I just had it in my head it wouldn’t happen to me. Like I had some special super powers or something. I do not. Oh, and if you ever see random hair tumbling down the street, that used to be my bangs.
4. My mom’s not as anti-natural as I thought. When I was like five or six my mama slapped a perm in my head. Not sure what her reasoning was back then, but since she used to hit me with the comb for moving my head as she braided my hair, I guess I know why. During my “maybe I want to go natural/maybe not” stage, she often would tell me my hair would fall out without perms or make the “ewww” face. But not too long ago she said one of my braidouts looked cute and on another occasion suggested I just cut all my hair off like Janet Jackson. Uh, thanks, mom but I don’t have a Janet Jackson head. Remember you had me by c-section? Yeah.
5. Transitioning ain’t easy, but I don’t care what people think. When I was 25 and under anything deemed somewhat negative that was said about my appearance would have sent me into a sobbing, spiraling mess with a 9 A.M. next day appointment to a therapist. But one of the main benefits of getting older is you become much more secure with yourself and often tend to not give a ratty shoe about what people think. There are days during this transition when my hair looks really bad. Between my five day a week workouts and my knack for putting the snooze on repeat, my hair can look pretty hurt. But for all I need to cram into a 24 hour day, I can’t get put into a straight jacket because someone dissed my hair. Besides, some of the jokes/comments are funny…lol. I’m only three months in, can’t buckle down now. *puts on combat boots*
And that’s that. I wonder how any of this will change six months or even a year from now…
Ever been in my shoes? Even if you didn’t go natural, I’m sure at some point you tried a new hairstyle with mixed reaction. Spill your experience in the comments :)