It was about 3 years ago that I sat down in front of my mirror, getting ready to relax the new growth on my struggling, breaking, thinning, lifeless hair. I stared at my reflection, looked at the box of hair relaxer, and then back at my reflection. My reflection and I both agreed in that moment. I remember my exact words were, “Nah!” and I threw the box out. And thus began my natural hair journey.
It was by far the most impulsive thing I had ever done. Oh yes, I live on the edge! I was full of expectation and excitement at what this would mean! Instagram and YouTube had me thinking that I would wake up with a crown like cotton candy, that I would suddenly be more “woke” as the conscious people like to say. I was ready to step into the fullness of what it meant to be a proud, natural sistah!! (Not to be confused with ‘sister’, which is simply a female sibling)
The first thing I realized was that having natural hair made me feel like I couldn’t be natural anywhere else. All of a sudden, I couldn’t go anywhere without makeup. I felt hobo-like with natural hair AND a natural face. What was that all about? Wasn’t this journey all about celebrating my entire being, flaws and all? Why did I suddenly feel this urge to paint and highlight this, and contour and conceal that?
Was I not pretty enough without the illusion of someone else’s hair on my head, or without my own hair being chemically straightened, having it stripped of all its natural, kinky, coily personality? Why couldn’t God just give me looser curls, I often wondered. What was the benefit of this hard to manage, excruciating to comb, and impossible to look good in, 4c hair??
I started to be more aware of naturalistas all around me, and I saw beauty in them that I struggled to see in my own experience. I loved seeing them in their different hair stages, different lengths, different textures. I saw the casual artsy bohemian styled types and the more elegant, suited up corporate types, and they all wore their crowns fiercely and beautifully!
“I am not my hair,” Ms India Arie famously sang. I don’t know if this has anything to do with my hair…maybe it’s just the passage of time, maybe it’s just growing up…but I now feel a comfort within myself that wasn’t there before. Accepting my hair in its hard-to-manage, natural state, has taught me to accept the other hard-to-manage aspects of myself and figure out how to make them work.
I didn’t expect it to get this deep…it is just hair after all…but it accidentally turned into a journey of self-discovery, unmasking fake confidence and facing my insecurities head on (pun intended). I look in the mirror and see a woman who could use a little more sleep and a little less chocolate cake. I see her wild, out of control hair that mirrors the chaos that goes on inside her mind. Sure, some days I want to take a pair of scissors to it, but all in all, I think the ‘flawsome’ woman underneath all that hair is pretty amazing. Naturally.