Guest Blog Post: Why Hair is So Important to the Black Community

(Hey, y’all! It’s been a minute since I’ve had a naturalista swing by the blog! Patrina of naturalhairqueen.net is a beautiful naturalista who is here to drop some knowledge on the social, political, and economic meanings of Black hair. I’m thankful that Patrina came by to share her words as it is a well-written and significant piece. I encourage you to take some moments to read her words too! Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

Guest Blog post_Patrina

It’s not just hair. If you mention the deep significance of African-American hair to nonblacks, you might get a blank look. They probably won’t understand why you are angry when you see cornrows being culturally appropriated. Nor will they get your frustration of not being able to find black hair products on the supermarket shelf.

The way we wear our hair isn’t just about self-expression. Our kinky hairdos and our coily locks are beautiful and unique, but it’s never just about you as an individual. Yes, we struggle with self-acceptance, but it’s not the same as a Caucasian teen wearing a mohawk to be rebellious, or a middle-aged white woman dying her hair bright red to do something fun for the summer.

How we style our hair goes way beyond that. It’s almost as if we’re representing the entire race. African-American hair is woven into a traumatic history of cultural discrimination, political turmoil, and fighting for basic human rights.

As time passes, we’ve seen mega-companies like L’Oréal scramble to sell to the one market they’d ignored for years. And it’s about time they paid attention, because the black hair and cosmetics industry is worth $9 billion per year, according to Black Men in America.

The black population is no small market. Nielsen reported that blacks will reach a buying power of $1.3 trillion by the end of 2017. We want to look good and we show it with our wallets, but it goes much deeper than just vanity.

African-American hair bonds and unites us as a people. However, the scars of having been ignored, shunned, and frowned upon still exist. In this post, we’ll discuss why hair is so important in the black community.

Hair is Interwoven into Black History

Black obsession with hair didn’t begin in America, nor does it date back to when Africans were kidnapped and sold as slaves. Hair has always been important to Africans, and we see evidence of this by studying the tribal traditions of our ancestors.

Africans made elaborate hairstyles for celebrations and rites of passage, and they also used styles to determine rank, social class, fertility, manhood, age, and wealth.

So, it’s only natural that we would turn to hair to express ourselves since that’s what our ancestors did.

When Europeans stole Africans for use as slaves, they uprooted an entire legacy of hair. Being far away from home without styling tools or nourishing butters like Shea, meant that Africans had no way to care for their hair. For the first time, blacks no longer celebrated their hair. Rather, both blacks and whites saw it as a problem.

In 1909, Garrett Morgan invented the first relaxer, and we saw black women flocking to take care of the “problem”.

The Struggle is Real

Why do we pay so much attention to hair? Because managing African hair takes time, patience, and dedication. Whether you have natural, relaxed, or a protective style like braids, you are undoubtedly going to spend hours doing your hair.

It’s kinky hair’s coily characteristics that make it a challenge. As the tiny coils cling on to each other and tangle, the hair mats until you have time to detangle it. And the detangling itself can take a long time to master without breaking the hair strands.

As we move into the Natural Hair Movement, American women are spending more time and money than ever on perfecting hair. Hair is connected to self-esteem and the way we feel about ourselves and being black.

Do we allow it to go natural? Do we straighten it to appear more “acceptable” in the workplace? These are complex questions that every woman must answer repetitively over the course of a lifetime.

Changing jobs or even just posing for a professional picture might change a woman’s mind from one day to the next about her hair, and whether it’s good enough. It’s this constant battle that leads us to obsess over hair and continuously “fix” it until it’s ready to be seen by the public eye.

A Common Bond Between Sisters

Our hair connects us. It’s the internet that brings sisters together. Now we can freely discuss and exchange ideas about how to take care of our complex hair, something we haven’t had since before slavery.

Sure, we always had casual conversations with friends and strangers alike, but You Tube and blogs made our connections stronger and more frequent.

It’s a grand reuniting of people affected by the African diaspora. These are the conversations we were meant to have hundreds of years ago. But better late than never, and it makes the connections even more compelling.

It’s not just the ability to research information, but a way of socializing. Our hair journeys give us something to talk about, share, and bond over. And yes, it feels like we’re celebrating once again.

Patrina-Naturalhairqueen

Patrina is the founder of Naturalhairqueen.net; a blog to educate and inspire women with natural hair. Patrina just celebrated her 10-year natural hair anniversary, and achieved her goal of waist length hair. With the knowledge she has learned over the years she is dedicated to share her knowledge, and experience to educate women who wish to have moisturized, healthy natural long hair.

Social Media:

Website: www.Naturalhairqueen.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/naturalhairqueensite/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NatHairQueen

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nathairqueen/

Guest Blog Post: Proud of My Crown

By: Bee G. Porter

“Happy to be nappy, I’m black and I’m proud

That I have been chosen to wear the conscious cloud

And I’m fine under cloud 9

I could be a chameleon and wear it bone straight

But it’s so much stronger when it’s in its natural state

And I’m fine under cloud 9”- (Donnie- “Cloud 9”)

I used to think that I was most beautiful when my hair was straightened and so I relaxed my hair for many years.

Bev #1                                                                (Relaxed hair, 2007)

However, toward the end of 2009 I decided to transition to natural hair. I wish I could say that I had a profound reason for transitioning but really it was quite superficial. I had friends and members of my family who always had natural hair and were able to switch up between rocking their natural curls and doing blow outs to straighten it. These women had “perfect” springy, bouncy curls and I secretly hoped that my hair would look like theirs.

So I began my process of transitioning from using relaxers, to texturizers to no chemical products and trimming my ends periodically until I became a full-fledged natural in 2011.

Bev #2

                                                           (Transitioning, late 2009)

I found that my hair texture was not like that of my family and friends. My hair was coarse, my curls were tight and coiled and frizz prone. I also noted that there were sections of my hair that had different curl patterns. “At least it would be easier to manage if they were uniform,” I thought.

I was disappointed and yes I had hair envy. “Why couldn’t my curls be as loose as theirs?” I would mumble to myself as I set my hair in twists.

I attempted to wear my natural hair out on several occasions to see how others would react to it. I found that I had mixed reviews. Some would complement it, others would make tongue-in-cheek statements like “Oh, I see you did something different with your hair…” or straight up inappropriate I should report your ignorant behind to HR statements like “Your hairstyle would be more appropriate while on vacation don’t you think?” (this was a quote from a senior level staff member from a former job).

I already felt unconfident with my OWN hair but hearing comments like that made me feel worse. So I regretfully, took the staff member up on his (yes his) advice and straightened my hair for work and special occasions and wore my hair natural while on vacations or on weekends. I continued to do this for a couple of years, even after having left that employer to pursue my graduate degree.

In the summer of 2013 shortly after getting married, I had some time to sit, reflect and address the self-hatred that had developed over the years. I asked God to help me to learn to love and embrace myself as He has created me. To love my hair as it was, to love my skin as it was-even though I was living in a world that was constantly saying otherwise.

I determined to step out in faith and confidence without apologizing for who I am or cowering in shame and disgrace to appease people who were not comfortable with me as I had done previously.

Bev #3

     (Natural wash n’ go, 2014)

In August of that year, I began teaching at a multicultural private school with a predominantly white staff- I was one of two black teachers. I wore my hair natural most days but on one occasion, I think it was around Thanksgiving, I decided to get a blow-out.

Bev #4

            (Natural blow-out, 2014)

When I arrived to school that Monday, I received countless compliments from the staff: “Oh, your hair looks nice like that!” I said “thank you” initially but as the day continued on I felt uncomfortable, saddened and even upset.

The most trying incident of the day occurred with one of my middle school classes. This particular class was significant because it was the only middle school level class where I had four black female students at one time, two of them had relaxed hair and two wore their hair in braided extensions. One of them said, “Oh your hair looks so pretty today. I like it like that.” I replied, “Are you implying that my hair is not pretty when it’s not like this?” All four snickered. I simply said in response “I love my hair either way” and proceeded with the lesson. I was saddened by the continued perpetuation of hatred of our beauty and glorification of something that isn’t naturally ours. I decided to be an example of self-love and acceptance; I figured that perhaps that is why God placed me there for that year.

The following week, I returned with my natural hair and did not straighten it for the duration of the school year. My silent stance spoke loudly. It communicated that I am professional. Being my authentic self is acceptable. I can be beautiful, accomplished, intelligent AND wear my hair natural. I am fine just as God created me to be.

That confidence became contagious as I became a role model of sorts to the girls who wore their hair natural. They asked me for product recommendations and styling tips and shared how wearing my hair natural was inspirational to them.

Toward the end of the year, to my surprise, one of the girls who snickered at me came into class with her hair natural. I made sure to tell her it looked beautiful. She smiled and beamed with pride. It confirmed that my decision to embrace my hair and my beauty was not in vain.

I used to think I was most beautiful when my hair was straightened, I now know that I am most beautiful as God has created. I am proud of my crown.

Bev #5     Bev #5  Bev #6

  (Pre & Post Big Chop, 2015)

Bee G. Porter is a wife, mother and writer; but more than all of those, she is an unashamed (shout out to 116) redeemed child of God, saved by grace. She is imperfect in so many ways but strives to reflect Him daily. When she is not attending to her family or her writing- she enjoys reading, baking and singing karaoke. She frequents her blog 30NGROWING like a desert rain-check it out if you want. Bee is currently working on her first novel which she hopes to release next year. If you’d like to contact her for writing inquiries, please e-mail 30ngrowing@gmail.com.

 

 

Guest Blog Post: Running From The Rain-My Hair Journey

By: Jessi Hughes

I got tired of running from the rain. At the beginning of my natural hair journey, this was one of my favorite ways to answer people who asked me why I decided to go “natural.” In my early twenties, I dated someone who would tease me every time I would run to take cover from the rain just to keep my shoulder length straight hair from getting wet. I would laugh and shrug off his jokes, but perhaps without him realizing it, my sense of normalcy was challenged. And I started to wonder – when did it ever become normal for someone to run from the rain?

Back then I would check the weather forecast religiously first thing in the morning and before I went to bed. If there was even a 40% chance of rain, I would pack my foldable umbrella into my purse to make sure that there was a 0% chance that my hair would get wet. Something inside of me was stirred up though, and I began to crave what it would feel like to let the raindrops fall on my uncovered head. So in the middle of a busy work and grad school schedule, I began using my spare time to research how to transition from permed hair to natural hair.

I won’t assume that everyone reading this knows about perms, so here’s a short lesson. I am by no means a hair expert, but like many naturalistas, I’ve acquired more hours of “hair research” than I would ever like to admit. There are basically two categories of hair perms – one that straightens hair and one that makes hair curly. Within these two categories, there are various ways that the perm can be applied in order to create certain results that produce bone straight hair or even spiral curls so perfect that they would make you look like Shirley Temple. Whether curly or straight, these hairstyles are obtained by putting chemicals on the hair that break down the natural hair’s texture. The results grow out eventually, so to maintain the permed hairstyle, the perm must be applied to the hair’s “new growth” (i.e. the roots). This means you must either learn to apply the perm yourself or make a trip to the salon every 6 to 8 weeks.

“Ahhh, yes – I miss those trips to the hair salon to get a perm,” is something that you will never hear me say! In fact, I try not to think about all the time and money that I spent at salons. I’ve also blocked out the countless times when I ended up with painful sores on my scalp (ouch!) as a result of the chemicals reacting to places where I had absentmindedly scratched before getting a perm, or from the perm being on my hair too long to guarantee that my hair was “straight enough.” I find it sad now when I think about what I put myself through in the name of “beauty.”

My “hair awakening” coincided with me wanting to view myself with natural hair as beautiful since that is how God intentionally made me. At the root of it all, I wanted to truly love myself, so in 2006, I began the transition from permed to natural hair. I began to understand that perms represented more than just a styling option for me. My self-worth had somehow become intertwined with looking like the unrealistic images of women of color that I saw on TV and as I flipped through magazines.

Unlike today, ten years ago there were not as many natural hair websites, blogs, videos, and products that empower and teach women to manage their own hair. So I made the transition with the help of a hairdresser located near my South Loop apartment in Chicago. He put rod sets in my hair to give me a spiral curled look that I loved. Each month he would cut off a little more of my permed hair as I would nervously watch the black trimmings accumulate on the white tiles of the salon floor. I was not completely sold out on having natural hair though, and I figured that if I didn’t like the texture of my hair than I could go back to getting perms. I was secretly wishing that my hair texture would be fine, defined and loose curls.  I probably would not have admitted it, but a part of me had the mentality that many people have that is rooted in self-hate and racism – the mindset that there is “good hair” and “bad hair.” I was hoping that team “good hair” had picked me.

 

JH Post #2

 

When I did the “big chop” in 2007, the decision to cut off the 8 inches of natural hair that had grown out coincided with the decision to let go of toxic relationships and things in my life that I had let rob me of my self-esteem, peace, and joy. My one-inch hair stood out in a time when short natural hair was not as fashionable as it is today. I noticed that compliments about my hair decreased, the type of men who approached me changed, and it was not uncommon for strangers to assume that I led a certain lifestyle or held certain views about politics or religion. I am amused by all of this now, but at the time, I hated the attention that I got as well as the attention that I did NOT get.

This also happened to be the time when I started to go back to church. I struggled to not roll my eyes and to not sit there with arms folded across my chest while the reverend preached. If you could have listened to the commentary in my head during those sermons, you would have known that I had grown cynical and cold to the things of God. The messages seemed to ricochet off of me like rubber bullets, and like a tennis pro, I had a mental rebuttal for every positive thing that the preacher said about God’s faithfulness even if it was simply a skeptical “Oh yeah?” My confidence was shattered, and I was extremely broken and angry with God.  To make matters worse, I was jobless after graduating from grad school, and I was facing the fact that I may need to leave Chicago to move back in with my parents in Massachusetts.

With a depleted bank account and a trail of fruitless job interviews behind me, I packed up and went back home like a prodigal child. I was in the last place that I wanted to be, but home was exactly where I needed to be. God began to work on me and restore my confidence in Him, myself, and people again. I was able to start healing and face the main reason why I had left Massachusetts. It turns out that I was running from more than just the rain.

I’ve come a long way since my TWA (teeny weeny afro) days. As a creative person and an artist, I see my hair as an outlet and a way to express myself, so I love the versatility of being able to change up my look. My hair is now past my shoulders thanks to a healthy lifestyle and from rocking protective styles like two-strand twists, micro-braids, crochet braids, and weaves. My hair has grown a lot, but most importantly, I have grown spiritually and emotionally. I still have more growing to do, but I’m learning to bloom where I am planted. On some rainy days, I walk slowly, with hands in my pockets, and a folded umbrella by my side. Finally I’ve stopped running…

 Jessi Hughes is a singer/songwriter who serves as one of the praise & worship leaders at a church in New England. Deeply influenced by her rich cultural heritage, Jessi draws from the soulful, blues of the South as well as the colorful, joyful praise and rhythms of Ghana, West Africa. She is excited about the upcoming release of her praise & worship EP. When she is not in the recording studio, you may find her practicing the guitar, enjoying the beach (when it’s summer), counting down the days until summer (when it’s winter), or spending time with family and friends. Jessi loves to travel and is passionate about healthy living, writing, and encouraging others to use their gifts for the glory of God and to spread the Gospel. To continue on the journey with Jessi, you can follow her on Instagram (@JessiHughesMusic), Facebook (@JessiHughesMusic), Twitter @JessiHughes), or by subscribing to her quarterly newsletter on her website (www.JessiHughesMusic.com).

JH Post #1

Guest Blog Post: Acting Natural-My Journey to Natural Hair

By:  Najah Schwartz

Hey, everyone! I’m so happy that I have gotten the opportunity to share my natural hair journey with you all. I personally love being natural and still believe it has been one of the best decisions I have made in regards to my health and well- being. I would like to give a HUGE thank you to Monica for letting me chat with you all and to share my story on your blog.

I began my natural hair journey at a very young age due to having a scalp condition that caused extreme (and gross) patchy flakes to form on my head. It made getting my hair done a pain and nothing seemed to help aid in getting it treated. Looking back, I now realize it was due to me getting chemical relaxers in my hair that caused the scalp condition to form. Growing up with a hairstylist as a mom she explained that I would no longer be getting relaxers in my hair, but instead grow my curly hair to help my scalp turn back to normality. I was only in middle school and relaxers have been the only thing I’ve known.

Fast forwarding a couple years, I was presented with a full-fledged afro that was much different than my shoulder length flat-ironed locks I was used too. Honestly, I had no idea what products I needed, how to care for it and what I needed for it to grow. There were more questions than answers at that time and even though my mom was a skilled beautician she knew nothing about natural hair.

With all the confusion going on, I was determined to figure how to make it work. I looked at informational videos, visited curly hair forums and created a routine for my hair that I believed would work. Over time, I have tweaked and changed it to fit the current needs of my hair. Up to the date I have been through three big chops and now my hair has been the longest it’s ever been. I don’t plan on cutting my hair again though!

Back then, it never bothered me too much to have hair different than the other girls in my school. I did however have an issue with being self conscious and ashamed of my brown 4a locks. I used to wish that my hair was like all of the other curly girls out there, free and flowing! But I soon realized the beauty of who I was and who God made me be.

Natural hair journey

I feel like I have gotten a lot of advice from over the years on how to get my hair to grow and I finally found a hair routine that works best: I wash my hair every two weeks with co-washing in between. Using Tresseme Naturals and Bentonite Clay. For conditioners, I’m really liking the Tresseme Naturals Conditioner that matches the shampoo as well as the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque. I find that my hair tends to be on the dry side so I deep condition two times a week pairing my conditioners with coconut oil. For styling creams, I’ve been experimenting with Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Hair Smoothie, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, and Shea Moisture Weightless Fruit Fusion Hair Mousse. Since my hair has been growing out of the TWA phase, I’m now able to pull it back into a bun effortlessly, so lately that’s been my hair style of choice.

For all the naturals out there, I encourage you all to keep at it. It is, after all, a journey to get to the desired length/ healthiness you want. Embrace the process and enjoy the time you have with your hair at every stage.

Najah is a blogger based in Las Vegas, NV currently gearing up to attend her first semester of college this year. Najah is married and loves sharing her knowledge of writing advice with other bloggers on the web. You can follow her on Twitter(@najschwartz_) Instagram (@najschwartz_) Pinterest (@najahschwartz) and Tumblr (nschwartzwrites.tumblr.com) to keep up with her blog posts and topics.

Natural hair journey 2

 

 

 

 

“The Ice Cream Prayer:” A Sequel to “They Preached With Fire”

(Hey, hey! So, I debated about writing a follow-up to “They Preached With Fire.” With some encouragement from fellow blogger, Lianna of  Sunflower Sojurn , I decided to go for it. Thank you Lianna! 🙂 This sequel is a flash fiction piece that’s from Simon’s perspective. Of course, I posted one of my favorite songs after the conclusion of the story. Please feel free to let me know what you think of the characters: “Amelia” and “Simon.“)

Flash Fiction _2

An assembly line. My two sisters and my mom did each other’s hair in this way. Every couple of weeks, they brought out the relaxers. They combed the white smooth substance throughout their hair, which would take them from what they called “nappy” to “straight.” When they saw the slightest curl popping from their scalps, they would complain and plop gel onto the stubborn strand. Once, I texted my sisters a picture of Amelia’s thick curls and encouraged them to get rid of the chemicals in their hair. Yet, they argued that natural hair was “too much” and that only certain women looked right with it. They referred to Amelia as “naturally gorgeous.”

Amelia and I stood outside of a locally owned ice cream shop. Amelia often ranted to me about how we should support local businesses, as they contributed positively to our community. The usual statements about how these businesses improved the economy and gave people jobs. I agreed with her.

Amelia looked different. She’d explained that she had her hair layered. I didn’t really like this look, but her hair was still natural.

“Maybe, I can pawn the ring. Or something. I don’t know,” I stated.

“Oh…I hate that you have to do that,” Amelia responded.

“Well…too much time passed by. I’ll look at the receipt again. See if I can return it.”

“I hope you’re able to return it.”

The ice cream shop was busy. It was a popular hangout for college students. A large and racially mixed group of young men and women, laughed and trampled into the shop.

“I guess I’ll have to talk to Pastor and let him that I won’t be at church anymore. Revoke my membership. I wish I didn’t have to,” Amelia said.

“Then don’t do it, Amelia,” I grumbled as I hit my cardboard bowl with my plastic spoon. Amelia arched her arms, and her bowl flew into the garbage can.

I was tired of explaining to the church kids on why Amelia wasn’t at church. I had an assortment of excuses. There were a few younger girls at church that pretended they didn’t admire her. But they sat behind her pew each Sunday and played with her hair. Now, I had to tell these girls that Amelia and I broke up. I wasn’t excited about “taking a break” when she suggested it at our last meet up. But I hoped the distance would make her rethink things. Maybe even decide to marry me.

“I’m sorry. I told you that I didn’t want you to deal with my stuff. Daddy is driving me up the wall right now. He’s chasing Mama all over the city. He just needs to stop, “Amelia exclaimed.

“He still loves her. That’s why he’s chasing,” I tossed my cup into the trash.

“Well..that’s love. Uck..she’s a mess.”

I exhaled and squinted at Amelia. “I think you forget that’s your mom. That she’s struggling and needs your love. She needs you to pray for her.”

“I do pray for her. You don’t get it!”

“Okay, I don’t get it all. You got a point. But I do think I try my best to understand parts of the situation.”

Amelia glared at the red walls and the black and white checkered floors of the shop. She loved vintage designs and classic movies. Her favorite actor was Sidney Poitier, and she forced me to watch nearly all of his movies. She was so bewildered when I confessed that I hadn’t seen his Oscar winning performance in “Lillies of the Field.”

“Yeah, you do try. You’re much better than other people,” Amelia answered. Her eyes scattered from the hipster male cashier to the group of students we’d seen earlier.

“Well..I had to try. It was important,” I answered.

Amelia rubbed her eyes. “I’m not going to be able to come here anymore.”

“Why?”

“Didn’t mean to say that!” Amelia looked away from the shop and then looked at me. “Umph..I can’t come back here. It won’t be anything. Won’t be good anymore. Just the place where we broke up.”

“Or the place you broke up with me. I mean, I didn’t want to break up. But I agreed. You wanted this,” I exclaimed.

“Simon, you don’t have to get all loud about it. We had to break up. Nothing else that could be done. Really!” Amelia flared her arms.

I moved to the edge of the sidewalk. I wanted to go away. My old Honda was across the street. But I also wanted to grab Amelia’s hands and pray. I didn’t know what prayer request was the most important: her parents, us, or the girls at our church who’d miss her presence. I could see the girls saying something flippant when they heard about Amelia’s departure. They would say something like “She wasn’t all that anyways.”

Amelia’s arm wrapped around my own. Her face was forlorn. I pulled away and sat down on the sidewalk. I scratched my full beard. The older church members barked that it was “out of control.” They preferred “the other thing.” My goatee.

Amelia’s eyes scattered again. From the people bustling out of the shop to others who walked down the street, she watched them.

“I’m goin’ to leave, Simon, “Amelia spoke in the other direction, as though one of the pedestrians were involved in this conversation instead.

“Okay..take care!” I huffed.

Amelia wiggled her foot around her blue TOMS shoe. Her light, flowy dress stopped at her knees. I arose and patted Amelia’s back. Then, I embraced her.

“I’m sorry again. Please keep up the preaching. You’re a great preacher. I liked hearing you,” Amelia quickly released her arms from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing and Wholeness in My Natural Hair Journey

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.

Nicole M

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.

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