A Guest Blog Post by Nicole:
About 2 years ago, I couldn’t have imagined what my decision to do the “Big Chop” would mean. I was surrounded by beautiful, natural-haired women and was literally the “last Mohican” to give up the perm. I took my time and transitioned for about a year, alternating between braids, bantu knots and any hairstyle that would hide the 2 textures fighting against each other during this period of “crossing over”. I did not have the typical unwelcomed comments that some of my friends had during this time. There were no side eyes thrown at me or insults mumbled in low tones as I passed by. Because. Well. I did it well. I was determined to transition smoothly and I succeeded.
Being the last of my friends to make the switch proved to work in my favor. They were there to guide me and help me learn natural hair styles that worked. I quickly became a connoisseur of hair accessories and skillfully worked my bobbi pins into a variety of updos. And then, finally, the day came. My friend came along for moral support. That is how awesome my friends are.
A black woman’s hair is easily a sign of her worth. If nothing is taken care of, her hair is. We will sit for hours in a hair shop simply waiting for our turn, endure the pain of putting chemicals in our hair and shovel out hundreds of dollars on weaves and wigs and sew-ins. So of course we need moral support when choosing to chop it all off. When choosing to let go of those relaxed locks and opt for a kinkier look. My hair dresser was a student at the salon I went to so not only did I get a discounted rate, but her talents were top quality. She styled my new do into finger coils. My friend raved about how great my transition was and social media friends were also very kind.
Some people choose to go natural b/c chemicals have damaged their hair or maybe they feel they need to be more in touch with their ethnic heritage. Those were not my reasons but I can say that being natural has definitely been a vital part of my true identity being revealed in this season. I never would have imagined there would be a spiritual link to giving up a relaxer.
Around the same time I did the big chop I had also endeavored upon a clean eating lifestyle and had dropped about 20 lbs. I felt like God was upgrading me and the lifestyle of healthy living was not just in regards to my eating but also my hair. I realize now God desires wholeness. Wholeness is all encompassing. We can be unhealthy in one area and healthy in others but God wants us healthy in all areas of life. I have learned from my pastor who is also a licensed healthy coach that there are “good, better, and best choices”. The goal is to try to make the better and best choices most of the time. I can’t say that using a relaxer is a bad choice. I didn’t even feel that way when I chose to go natural. It was just that going natural was a better choice for me. And now I know, it was actually the best choice for me.
I can only recall one really difficult moment while transitioning. I was washing my hair and so much of it was shedding. Too much. I freaked out as I watched the clumps fall into the drain in the shower. I sent a text to my friends relaying my alarm. I had already tried different detanglers and nothing was working. Then a friend responded that I needed to separate my hair in sections before washing it. I couldn’t just wash it like I had when it was straight. That only made it more tangled. I remember her sharing this with me before but basically I had been too lazy. You simply cannot be lazy with natural hair. I have learned I need to be intentional about styling and washing consistently or else I will get the side eye looks. I am determined that will not be me.
Being natural is a lot of work. But just as I have been so intentional to pack my meals and snacks daily for 2 years I have consistently twisted my hair every night when wearing a twist out or washing/cowashing every 2-3 weeks and spend an hour washing, detangling, moisturizing, and styling. You simply make a priority for the things that are worth it.
And my hair and my body are worth it.
Nicole is a lover of Jesus. She desires to see her generation walk in wholeness, restoration and healing. She is the author of “How to Overcome Heartbreak: Recovering from Misguided Love” and writes frequently at www.betterthanwine.net.