Two years ago I set out on a journey. I chucked out my chemical relaxers, threw out all those paraben-laden products and became a natural curly.
Perceptions of Beauty
Soon after I set out on my natural hair journey, I quickly realised that this was not just a question about straight or curly hair. It was something much bigger, deeply psychological even.
It was about my perception of myself and even bigger than that – it was about my own, and the wider perception of natural black beauty. It was about acceptance.
I can’t remember what it was that inspired me to stop relaxing my tightly coiled afro hair. Maybe I was sick of the inevitable chemical burns from using a relaxer. The pressure to straighten black hair is intense, but using a chemical straightener causes your hair irreparable damage. Relaxers break down the very structure of the natural hair in order to straighten it. They do this using an ingredient called Sodium Hydroxide, so powerful that it corrodes drain pipes. So why is it that every six weeks, we pick up this toxic hair treatment that’s so unhealthy for our crowning glory?
It Seemed Unnatural, Going Natural..
So I made up my mind to stop using a relaxer. And since then, I’ve been on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. I mean, I didn’t even know how to care for natural hair. I did some research, talked to a few of my friends and spent more money than I care to remember on different black hair care products…but nothing seemed to work. I swear, I must have the most stubborn curls on the planet – so dry and difficult to manage.
But there’s light at the end of the tunnel – I love my natural curls. I have a curl structure I never thought I could achieve, all those cute lil’ ringlets. My hair is nearly as long as it was when I stopped relaxing it (though it shrinks something terrible), and I’m finally beginning to accept my curly hair!
Of course, there are still bad days and good days. Sometimes I wake up bleary eyed and resent the thought of going through my long-winded haircare regimen: co-washing, finger brushing, twisting – the whole rigmarole.
I still have a long way to go. I reckon it’s about half as long as I want it to be but right now I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m proud of myself for sticking with it, and little by little I’m beginning to love my nappy hair.
I’m really looking forward to hearing your natural hair journeys – please dive right on in!