This post was inspired by my sister Iris. She took a courageous leap of faith (and advice from her big sis) and decided to say good-bye to the relaxer and return to her naturally textured hair. Yep, she did it! Her hair is now back to its original state – soft, curly, full of life and more importantly – chemical-free. Please help me officially welcome Iris to the Aim 4 Natural family!
Although, she made the physical transition to natural hair by allowing the chemicals to grow out gradually, Iris is now experiencing the emotional factor that often times accompanies this journey. The experiences associated with “going natural” are obviously different for everyone. When I did the big chop a few years ago, I immediately experienced liberation, joy and freedom. My sister, however, did not get that same level of excitement.
Here’s her story…
Iris was transitioning nicely for a month or two when one Friday morning during her weekly visit to the salon, her stylist “accidentally” cut off the remaining relaxer and left her with a short (but cute) teeny-weeny afro. During our quality time spent at a recent natural hair show, she explained how she cried for hours over the “missing” hair. “I didn’t tell her to cut off ALL my hair”, she screamed. “I only wanted a trim. What was she thinking…? Arrrggghhh!!”
Sounds like a little misunderstanding took place that Friday morning…
She had become comfortable with her new texture but wanted to hang on to that “little relaxed piece” in the front until she was ready to let it go. Perhaps it was her source of security. I jokingly called it her “comb-over.”
“Who is that woman in the mirror?” she said to herself after the unexpected “big chop”
“I don’t recognize that woman”
“My forehead looks too big”
“What will my husband say?…and my kids?!”
“How do I maintain my hair now?”
“How do I style my hair?”
“What products do I use?”
“What do you mean I have to twist my hair at night?”
“What?! Shampoo my OWN hair?!”
“How do I color my hair?”
“Am I still beautiful?”
Research shows these thoughts are common for some new naturals. When we decide to return to our naturally textured hair, there’s a lot to consider – lifestyle, schedule, maintenance, products, self-confidence and awareness, etc. There’s also a period during our journey where some of us experience disappointment, sadness and regret. These feelings and emotions are real and should not be taken lightly.
Talking with other naturals, joining forums, surrounding ourselves with people who uplift and encourage us – as well as reading books about the history of our hair, are all great tools to help cope with these emotional phase(s). I say phases (plural) because sometimes we can experience emotional swings even after being natural for years; it depends on the person and the circumstance. Another effective way to work through the emotions is to spend time getting to know our hair and learn to love and appreciate her beauty. Remember, we discussed this in an earlier post – Motivation: Transitioning From Relaxed to Natural Hair.
Some may say – “well… it’s just hair.”
Nooooo….it’s not just hair.
Again, there’s an emotional factor associated with letting go of what we’ve been accustomed to most of our lives – straight, relaxed hair. Indie.Arie so eloquently reminds us that we are not our hair. However, we have to “unlearn” what has been plastered in our brains for years. This process takes time and patience is key.
Not long ago, if our hair was worn in its natural state, we were viewed by society as “not pretty”, unkempt, poor, uneducated, rebellious, raggedy, kitchen stylists, __________[fill in the blank]. Now, women of color from various age groups, social and economic backgrounds are proud and confident to wear their naturally textured hair. Just look around…magazine ads, TV commercials, models, actresses, soccer moms, business professionals, athletes, educators, physicians and even women in corporate offices – I’m talking C-suite positions (i.e. CEOs, CIOs, COOs, CFOs, etc). I wouldn’t be surprised if our lovely first lady, Michelle Obama decided to go natural in the very near future!
Stay tuned for part II of this post where we’ll take a deeper-dive into the emotional factors associated with going natural. We’ll also check-in with Iris to see how she’s coping with the transition.
By the way, my sister was beautiful with relaxed hair and she’s even more beautiful with textured hair! The teeny-weeny afro frames her face well. Her dazzling hazel eyes and radiant caramel skin are now front and center! And… she doesn’t even wear make-up – never have. Go ‘head girl rock your natural beauty! #proudbigsis
Until next time,
Always aim 4 natural
The post, Dealing With The Emotional Factors of “Going Natural” Pt.1, first appeared on aim4natural.com
What was your natural hair transition like? Simple or somewhat challenging? Share your story. It could help another Natural who is struggling in this area.