When a woman decides to change her hair, it’s usually because she’s bored with her current style or saw a hairstyle on someone else that she liked. For me, it was the latter. I was always the one person in the room who would be against the “natural hair movement” and following the crowd. Then I began seeing women with beautiful long, thick African American Hair. Hair that I hadn’t seen since I got my first relaxer at age 9. I wanted that back.I wanted my hair to be versatile again. I wanted my hair to be inspirational to other women. Honestly, I just wanted to see what my hair would look like without being chemically processed…and so my transition process began.
My last relaxer was March 13, 2013 (I was supposed to start my process in December 2012 but I chickened out). I transitioned for 11 months and after watching over 50 big chop videos on Youtube, I finally found the courage to cut off my relaxed ends. Yes, I cut them off myself which I probably shouldn’t have but the chop was actually not bad. I didn’t feel liberated like the girls in the videos but I did have a sigh of relief because I no longer had to deal with two textures. Then I almost cried two days later because my hair was shorter than I thought it would be. Which leads me to #1 on my list of what I learned by going natural. I hope this list helps you women out there who are finding this process more difficult or different than you thought.
1. I wasn’t ready: I chopped off my relaxed ends thinking my hair would be shoulder length like the girls in the videos.What I didn’t know is that my curls were much tighter and I would have more shrinkage once my hair became more moisturized. In addition to length, I was totally clueless and insecure about twa (teeny weeny afro) and how to style it. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have been in such a rush.
2. Don’t compare your hair to other naturals: Cutting off my relaxed ends helped me realize my hair was much different from other natural hair women. When going natural, you can use other women for inspiration but your hair is your own. From the way you take care of it to the way you wear it, your hair will always differ from someone else’s. What works on your hair may not work for me and it took me a couple of months but I’m learning to embrace that.
3. My curl pattern: The real reason I joined the natural movement is because I wanted to see what my hair looked like. I’m so very happy I did. I never thought a little black girl like me could have naturally curly hair. I was always fascinated with curly, wavy hair so discovering my curly wavy hair was a win for me.
4. Research: When in doubt, ask questions or simply research. I’m a very inquisitive person, so it’s nothing for me to visit a natural hair forum or two. You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to know the basics of taking care of your hair. The best way to do that is learn from others’ experiences and the experts.
5. PATIENCE: Last but not least I learned patience. Any one who knows me knows I lack patience, so transitioning and actually going full out natural was a LONG journey for me. I struggled with what to do with my hair, how to maintain hairstyles, what products to use, etc. I use Instagram and Facebook Groups (one of my favs is Transitioning to Natural) as my inspiration and sometimes I forget the time and patience it took some of those women to reach their hair goals.
Have you gone natural? Feel free to share your process by commenting below!
Thanks for reading! -K