Thursday, June 3, 2010

The One Thing I Wished I Would Have Known Before Going "Natural"

I wish someone would have told me that the hair doesn't make the girl. Furthermore, I wished I would have come to that conclusion myself many moons ago. I spent many days during the beginning of my hair journey hating my appearance, hiding from men, and trying to keep my hair as "neat" as possible to appear more "professional". I never wanted to go out because I felt that people looked at me differently, and I cringed when people referred to me as Afrocentric. <---It was reactions like this that prompted me to take a deeper look at myself. Did reactions like that suggest I had issues with appearing too ethnic? Honestly, at the time I did.

One of my favorite quotes is by Elanor Roosevelt, and she states; No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Had I had more of a stronghold on who I was, I would have never felt insecure about my looks. Going natural is more than just transitioning out of a relaxer, going natural starts with reflecting on what led you to the relax your hair in the first place, and the views you have about yourself. You need to really wrap your brain around the "I am not my hair concept", and realize that there is more to you than a just hairstyle.

My advice to anyone who is going natural is to first transition out of your current frame of mind, and then transition out of your relaxer. It makes dealing with your change in appearance easier, and it even puts you in a position to laugh off ignorant comments, versus trying to find the validity in them [I think it is safe to say that at least 75% percent of people who have taken the plunge to go natural has experienced at least ONE completely ignorant comment], it also makes dealing with those bad hair days easier as well.

To all my sisters out there who went natural, what is the best piece of advice you can give to anyone out there that is toying with the idea of going natural? 

And here are some of my fav pics...just because I haven't posted curlspiration pics in quite some time.


  1. Love everything you said!
    Best advice...go natural for your own reasons, stick to those reasons & do not be afraid to lean on a support group if you feel yourself growing doubtful about your decision. Because sooo many naturals have gone down this road of doubt as well as others questioning their decision, I find it normal to embrace these feelings...but also, it's important to learn from them. If I didn't have my parents who shunned me, friends who mocked me, or co-workers who talked behind my back...I wouldn't have lasted as longs as I have. I pocket those negatives and turn them into my own form of positive energy. When you figure out how to do this, the journey to natural becomes all the more bearable and VERY much worth it!

  2. You are beautiful...
    And yes, the hair does not make the woman!!!

  3. I love this. I've been natural for three years now and I just did my second big chop. This time around, I have even more confidence to rock my TWA. I also know how to care for my hair better. It's been a great journey.

  4. I appreciate your honesty!

  5. This is a wonderful post! Truly inspiring! My advice for my natural sistahs out there would be "let go, let flow". Take the time to love yourself from the inside out and let go of those preconceived notions other have about your hair! Let go of the taboo of what one thinks it is to be natural and be natural. Do what makes you happy because at the end of the day, you and your decision is all that matters.

  6. To just simply love you dont try to be anything your not...just because your hair is natural does not mean that you are automatically down for every black cause get the stereotypes out of your mind. Your hair is natural love it and love you!!!

  7. love this!
    if i didn't have the support of the women in my stylist's shop and on twitter,
    this journey would've been sooo much harder.
    i'm a new natural.
    i transitioned for 8 months
    and have been natural for a month!
    (wow, didn't even realize today is my one month anniversary!)

    my tip is to embrace the unruliness of your hair.
    my hair does what it wants.
    it's curly in the front,
    with stray curls everywhere else,
    and is massive.

    i had to learn to love my hair,
    as it is,
    flaws and all.
    and yeah,
    my fro is "ethnic"
    and black people stare the most,
    but it's just another symbol of my boldness,
    of me.

  8. I'm currently transitioning for the second time and my best advice would be:

    Learn how to take care of your relaxed hair and learn/practice general proper haircare before you start transitioning because it is SOOOO much harder to maintain two textures. And while learning these proper haircare practices also start trying to do braids, twists,bantu knots, etc on your relaxed hair. Otherwise when you start transitioning you will be totally lost and find yourself easily discouraged.

    That's exactly what happened to me during my first transition. I had no clue how to take care of my hair and when it really started growing in I had no idea how to style it and care for it so I caved. It took months for me to learn how to even keep my hair properly moisturized. My new growth feels 100 times softer this time around.

  9. The best advice I can give to someone thinking about transitioning or chopping is..........
    1. Unlearn societies definition of beauty........because it's WRONG!
    2. Join a natural hair community for information, inspiration, and
    3. Love what's on YOUR head! All hair types are BEAUTIFUL and UNIQUE.
    4. Understand that your journey will be filled with good and bad days.

  10. Have you ever tried using shea butter/coconut oil instead of Miss jessie? it's more natural and cheaper.

  11. Wow...Your honesty is so refreshing!
    Your "cringe reaction" is something that I've experienced as well. It was not until recently that I've looked into WHY. Why I felt "looking afrocentric" was not a good thing. Why I didn't want to look "ethnic". Why I thought natural hair was "ugly".
    While being labeled as something that you are not is awful, I'm starting to believe that looking afrocentric/ethnic is okay. That natural hair is far from ugly. I no longer want to care about what other people think of me. "What's wrong with being ME!?". People will make their assumptions either way.
    As a transitioner for 8 mths now, I love this post:)

  12. Beauty is what you say it is, just be yourself and do what feels right for you. Natural or otherwise it's the inside that truly counts. Don't be "defined" just be the "FINE" person you were born to be!

  13. Love your honesty. I went natural many years ago simply because I wanted to "know" my real hair, not the facade a relaxer gave me. I never really had the "ugly" phase but I think that's because I was so in awe of all the cool new things my hair could do in its natural state, lol. i was like a kid with a shiny new toy and i wanted to play with it all day, lol. once my hair journey transitioned to my next step (locs), I was even more excited. I guess I'm just a nerd like that, lol.

    My advice for anyone deciding to go natural is simply, do it for you and respect that decision once you've done it. never discount your beauty, it was there before you went natural and it's even more present once you strip away all the "extras" and get back down to basics...

  14. Thank you so much for this post!

    I've been natural off and on for a few years but I've only worn two-strand twist extensions. I'm now building up the courage to wear my natural hair out. This post is very inspiring...


  15. Wow...thx ladies. I'm only 4 months post and this is so inspiring to me :)

  16. My best advice to anybody going natural is to be patient!

    BE patient with yourself as you learn your natural hair. For most of us, it will be the 1st time we've ever dealt with our own natural hair and it is a much different experience than when permed. We'll have to learn how to care for and style our 'new' hair. Find the products that work best on our hair and get used to seeing this hair on our head. It can be a little overwhelming, but with a good attitude and lots of patience you can enjoy the ride.

    Be patient with your hair. There was a period during my transition when I wanted my hair to be long like it was when I was permed. I didn't enjoy my short(er) stage as I was focused on finding anything that would give my bra strap length hair over night, lol SO I took all sorts of pills and 'vitamins', lotions and potions, to make my hair grow and I missed out on a lot. Also I had to accept my hair the way it was and what it was not (initially I wanted curls like Joan from Girlfriends, lol).

    Be patient with those around you. While you have to adjust to your new locks, so do others around you. Some will handle it better than others, but try and be patient with them.

  17. @jamika,

    i'm still learning that advice.
    i want a massive, curly afro,
    and that probably won't be in my future.
    (as i said before,
    i transitioned for 8 months,
    and have been natural for a month.)

    i have way more hair than i thought i would,
    but still.
    i want my hair as it will be two years from now.

    thanks for reiterating this for everyone!

  18. My advice is to not to be so "deep" about it. I hated that people thought that I was making a "political" statement but the truth is I just look better with natural hair. I got to involved in trying to explain myself for a few years now I don't even think about it. It's just me.

    True story: I'm a teacher and I wore a HOT PINK wig lost wig to look like one of the characters. One of my male students (high school) said "You look good with straigh hair. Why don't you wear straighten your hair?"

    UMM...You would rather me wear HOT PINK straight hair than my natural hair! LOL.

  19. I love my hair natural..i have those days when i am like wtf did i do..and the length struggle sometimes doesn't help but I understand that it is a process..the only thing that scares and really pisses me off is when my parents say stuff like no one will hire you looking like that..and i though annoying a part of me believes them. I mean i cant wear braids and straighten my hair all the time..seriously..any suggestion ladies?

  20. First... I love your blog
    Second... I love your hair
    Third...Thanks for the inspiration

    I've tried to transition numerous times over the past 10 years, but the main thing that held me back...I didn't want to cut my hair. Last month, I cut my hair to attain a new look. My goal was to go natural when I decided to grow my hair back out...especially when I decide to get pregnant.

    Well... short hair requires really straight hair (so it can lay well). And overprocessed hair is not my thing. I normally relax my course hair every three months. I'm also becoming more and more aware of what I eat and the products I use. So natural I come!

  21. Wow I am loving all of this love in the comments today!! I would say learn PATIENCE! I am still learning it myself. And remember that you will never stop learning about your hair and your heart! I feel different since becoming a natural I have grown so much and I am loving the experience!

  22. Love this post and the comments! Great advice for "transitioners" (like myself)...thank you all so much!!!

  23. I had my last relaxer about five years ago, but I constantly flat-ironed my hair. At the beginning of May I decided to wear my hair in its natural state. I had many people around me who were supportive and that helped A LOT. What also helped was realizing that the hair on top of my head belonged to me.

    And if someone does not like or agree with my choice in style that stinks for them because now I'm gonna wear it like this even longer ;)

  24. All the comments people have stated are very good points.

    One thing I would like to add is that while its nice to have hair inspirations that come from pictures and/or vlogs we might see, dont always be fooled into thinking they're hair always looks that way.

    Some of those people showed you a look from when they were having a "good hair day" its very rare you see people taking pictures when their hair is looking "unruly" I think all forms of the hair is great!!!! But dont get discouraged and then give up the moment your hair isnt turning out the way you thought it would look like.

  25. love love love your blog!
    adding you to my reader pronto!

  26. I chose to not get relaxers anymore because straight up I was concerned about the caustic effects of all the chemicals that I was putting into my body. I'm honoring my body and treating it like the temple that it is. Only after I had done the big chop did I realize just how BIG a statement I was making even though that was never my intention. People absolutely TRIP when they see me rock my natural hair and I totally agree with Janelle when she says it's black folk that stare the most. One of my acquaintances even went so far as to ruffle my two strand twists and proclaim, in a semi-disguted voice, "what you doing with your hair!!"
    This is the advice I would give to any new natural....Understand that you are making a bold statement when you wear your natural hair and be ready for it. You are defying convention and there will be many people who will be uncomfortable with that. How other people feel about your how you wear your hair really isn't your problem or your responsibility. Do you!!! Stay strong and respect yourself for choosing to do something that is outside of the norm. Embrace it! Good luck to all of you!

  27. love this ... i definitely needed to read that! :)

  28. its a personal choice. i stopped relaxing when i was about 17, i am now 26. i did not politicize my hair at 18, i did it for more practical reasons (small college town, unhealthy hair). I have been straightening now for a few years though, with periods of naturalness. I personally dont have time to always mess with the curls and believe i look better with long hair, as opposed to big hair. So, again, make an informed choice and not a political one. :)

  29. first: love your blog

    second: I like how you put forward your thoughts and ideas without putting down those who choose to relax.

    I have texlaxed hair and love it. I like that it gives ME the option to wear my hair straight or big, and offers ME more manageability. I've also been natural many a time, again because at that time I wanted the biggest hair possible.

    I grew up in Botswana, where many people were relaxed and many more were natural. I really believe that when I was in Africa, being natural or relaxed was a choice that was not as politicized as hair is here in the US. (What with increased westernization - things I now totally different and when I travel home, it seems that weaves are the new thing.) But back to my point, I have always kept MY hair as I wanted, whether relaxed, natural, braided, pressed, etc,. It was what I wanted and will always be that way. People really have to understand that at the end of the day, only they have to live with their own hair. If you are a militant TWAer, then that is your choice, and if you are a "creamy-crack-addict", then that is your choice too. Like Mrs Roosevelt said, "no-one can make you feel inferior without your consent!". Relaxing or BCing for others will never make you happy.

    So like Lauren said - "make an informed choice, and not a political one."

  30. Do your research... Read, youtube, blog, ask questions to know what your getting into and how to care for your hair, so you don't relax again after hitting your first obstacle...

    Make a pact to love your hair in its most natural state, no matter what it looks like... Trust me, skip the curl envy if you can...

    Then chop it all off! Holding on to those last pieces of relaxed hair may complicate things more than they ease the transition.

  31. I just discovered your blog today and this post hit close to home. I've been natural my whole life but spent all my years through school tying my hair back and trying to stick it down, and slick it back to keep it neat. I live in the UK and most of my peers were white and as a child I just didn't want to stand out. At the same time I didn't want to relax it because really I wanted to keep my hair as it was, I just didn't want negative comments.

    Since, I have realised that trying to have so much control over natural hair is futile. I have learned to work with it, accept that it is unpredictable and ultimately love it. I do stand out but that's not a bad thing most of the "negative" comments I feared when I was younger are really just curiosity and I've had more compliments about my hair than I ever would have thought. My hair hasn't changed but my perception of it and my confidence has.

    I'm still learning about my hair but the most important thing, I think is not to have any expectation as to what it should look like. Experiment and have fun, natural hair is so versatile and remember that is it uniquely yours.

    Blogs like this have helped a lot, it's great to know that others have had the same worries, issues and that there is a lot of support and great advice out there. I really love being natural now.


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