It’s been nine months since I did the big chop! Yay, me. My hair is getting some length now, so much that I have to air dry in twists now. The picture above is from earlier today after washing and detangling my hair. I’ll post more pictures later on in the week.
Where are you from?
Originally Chicago, IL but I’m living in the metro Detroit area for law school.
How long did you transition?
I did the BC on October 13, 2009.
Tell us your hair story. Why did you decide to go natural?
I used to keep my hair short. Always. And then my BFF decided she was getting married so in true maid-of-honor fashion, I was growing my hair out so she could have some versatility with the styling. So for over a year, I grew out my hair and kept relaxing it. The result was longer but weak hair that was not healthy. It was thin and stress was causing it to break off even more.
August 2009, the wedding got called off and I didn’t go in for my touch up. I was tired of my hair breaking off and shedding every morning. So since I didn’t have to grow it out for the wedding, I decided that instead of having long hair, I wanted to have healthy hair. I went to a salon for a consultation (Transitions Salon, aptly named) and the owner took the time to walk me through what I’d expect over the next year as far as the stages my hair would go through and what styles I’d be able to wear. The salon carried natural hair products (Carol’s Daughter and Miss Jessie’s) so I wouldn’t have to go searching for products to use in my hair. She carried smaller, sample sizes of everything so I could buy it and try it before committing to one outright. My experience at the consultation appointment went so well that I made my actual appointment for a week later and on October 13, 2009, I did the BC.
What have you discovered so far in your natural hair journey?
I have discovered a few things in my short natural hair journey. One, relaxed women are living vicariously through me. They always are commenting that they wish they could do what I did. Two, natural women welcome me with open arms and giving me tips on how they tackled their journey. Three, white women say my hair is ‘sassy’ which I found to be an interesting word to describe my hair. Sassy? Natural hair is sassy? Ok, I’ll buy that.
But most importantly, I have discovered how much self-esteem and confidence I REALLY have! When I first did the BC, I thought I had made a HUGE mistake. I told myself that I shouldn’t have been so rushed to cut off the relaxer. I was going to look like a boy or a cancer patient. The drive home, I kept thinking about my boyfriend’s reaction. Is he gonna be attracted to me still? Will people mistake me for his little brother? I had all kinds of insane thoughts!
But when the dust settled on the third or fourth glance in the mirror, I realized that my beauty was coming from within. I know that is so cliche but it is SO true! I took the time out in the morning to fluff my TWA and to put on makeup and to pick out accessories that would compliment my hair. And it showed. I get people telling me that I look healthy and that my skin is glowing. A stranger in the grocery store even commented that he liked my hair natural.
My journey thus far has also proven to me that natural hair can be professional. In a law school setting where I’m constantly networking and competing, I’m able to portray myself and I think my hair now matches my personality.
What technique has helped you the most?
In this initial grow phase, deep moisturizing has been imperative. I never knew what cowashing was until I did the BC. Now I live by it and will cowash once or twice a week. I use a carrot oil for extra moisture and I’ve fallen in love with Miss Jessie’s Buttercreme. I don’t plan on using heat until I’ve gotten six inches of growth.
Your advice to the readers:
Going natural is not a step but a lifestyle. It takes a commitment to something bigger than just kicking your ‘creamy crack’ habit. By going natural, you’re going to have a better understanding of who you are and that can only be great for your personal growth. As for your hair, condition & moisturize, condition & moisturize!
For ages black women have given and received messages about their hair being inextricably linked to their beauty, to their identity, and occasionally, to their strength. As well, anyone with access to a television or newspaper will have noticed that since the release of Chris Rock’s movie Good Hair, there has been a lot of chatter about the stuff on the heads of black women everywhere. Many of the unspoken norms for black women have been shared, style secrets have been spilled, and urban hair myths have been debunked. As a result, I feel a heightened awareness of the fact that, at any given moment, people could be staring at my head and wondering where my $1000 weave is. I travelled to Trinidad earlier this year and was awe-struck at the sights of some of the most beautiful natural hair that I had ever seen. Maybe it was the combination of the hair, the beach and Soca music, but that trip catapulted me from the “considering” phase that I had been in for two years, into actually planning my journey to go relaxer free. I decided to cut my hair short first to get used to the length and then stop relaxing. I was set. At the salon, my hair had been washed and I had told the stylist which Rihanna-inspired style I wanted. As he completed his first snip with the scissors, removing exactly 3¼ inches of hair – I had an anxiety attack. Suddenly I felt like Samson.
Samson (who would be played by me in this story) is a biblical character blessed with superhuman strength. (I’m a single mother. Enough said.) He is tricked by Delilah (enter conniving hairstylist) into revealing the source of his strength (his locks/my hair), at which point she hires people to shave his head while he sleeps. He wakes up with the strength of every other regular Joe, only to be blinded by bullies, imprisoned and destined to forever grind grain. Okay, there are some minor differences, but in that instant as I sat in the chair hyperventilating and wishing a plague upon this stylist’s home, I would have bet money that the story was the true account of a woman who had just come from getting her hair cut.
After about 30 seconds, I lifted my head from between my legs and regained my normal rate of breathing. The rest of the hair appointment went off without a hitch! (Much to the delight of the now traumatized hairstylist.) That was 6 months ago. I have since had half a dozen haircuts and am happy to say that I have been neither blinded nor imprisoned. 3 months ago I stopped relaxing my hair, as well. When I ran into a woman that I had not seen in quite some time, she stopped me to ask what I had done to my hair. “You used to have such long, straight hair! I remember it was past your shoulders.” She shook her head in disappointment, “Those who want it don’t have it and those who can get it, cut it off!” I smiled at her and said, “Maybe one day I’ll grow it back….or not. Who knows? After all, It’s just hair!” And to my own surprise, I meant it.
Lady J is the kind of chick you can usually find trying to learn something new. She’s learning about all this new natural hair on her head, learning how to make words dance and sing in her poetry and is also back at school to learn how to do her job in two other languages. Most recently, she has had her nose stuck in her MacBook, trying to learn how to improve and add to her new blog Pen to Pages (www.pentopages.blogspot.com)
Benzoyl peroxide oxygenates skin. Acne bacteria cannot live in oxygenated environments. Benzoyl peroxide is also a mild drying and peeling agent which is thought to help keep pores from clogging. 2.5% benzoyl peroxide is just as effective as 5% and 10% but much less irritating. Remember, irritation alone can aggravate acne.
The ever-so fabulous Miss Tolula Adeyemi.
Fabulous afro-inspired artwork by Dawn Okoro. Check out her other incredible pieces here.
Special thanks to Lola for directing us to this ever-so fly gallery from Essenceentitled Street Style Tributes Michael Jackson. Check out the gallery for more naturals!
Stay tuned for the product reviews for Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercreme & Baby Buttercreme and ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer. And of course, a giveaway!
It’s been a while since the last discussion so let’s start one today!
What hair problems are you going through? Dryness? Length retention? Breakage?
Let us know what your hair problems are!