Natural hair is BEAUTIFUL! In this section, I will celebrate beautiful naturalistas, share tips I've learned along the way on my own natural journey, and even answer a question or two. Feel free to email me at email@example.com to share your pics, ideas, and suggestions.
Naturally... Critical? Taking on the Natural Hair Police and Natural Nazis
Hello, lovely readers! My natural hair journey hasn't been an exceptionally hard one, but I've seen all kinds of things on my path. Should I throw out my flat irons? Never use shampoo again? Only shop on the organic isle? Sleep upside down for length retention? (Ok, that's a stretch, but don't act like you haven't seen something similarly weird!) As we formerly relaxed girls have discovered, there are TONS of "rules" out there for naturals to follow, and with rules come the people to "enforce" them...enter in the Natural Hair Police, otherwise known as Natural Nazis. Love them or hate them, these self-appointed regulators can be found on nearly every natural hair page, blog, or if you're really lucky, handing out hair citations at natural hair meetups. Here's my take on how to handle the more-natural-than-thou crew and keep your sanity.
After transitioning for 9 months, doing the BC, and soaking in all sorts of hair knowledge, I'd like to think that I know a thing or two about natural hair. I follow trusted blogs like Curly Nikki, Naturally Happy Hair, Natural Hair Rules!!! and Kinky Curly Coily Me! for advice, I consult with hair veterans like Salon De La Soul Sister and Natural Hair Community on Facebook for styling and natural hair health tips, and I comb through numerous YouTube videos for inspiration. I'm no expert, but I've truly enjoyed creating a regimen that works for my mane.
BUT....*RECORD SCRATCH*...There is an epidemic on the rise that MUST be contained! Natural Hair Police officers are discouraging and confusing newly naturals at record rates. Older naturals merely give an SMH and keep it moving, but even the vets find themselves wanting to comment with a "Could you PLEASE shut up already? Can a girl straighten her hair without being put on trial?" I mean, seriously...It's not that serious. There's no such thing as a cookie-cutter natural; each person's hair is different, and while certain "rules" should be followed, no one should be attacked for "breaking" one. One of the best things about wearing your naturally textured hair is that you can change it up and create your own regimen of what works.
Gasp! But what about the "rules"? Aren't we supposed to use all-natural products for our hair? Co-wash to keep sulfate shampoos from stripping moisture? Stop using heat or use as little as possible? Trim regularly? Moisturize and seal consistently? Wear protective styles to retain length? YES!...and no. The rules should actually be considered guidelines: tested and proven actions that will help ensure healthy natural hair. However, if a naturalista chooses to use water to moisturize, Blue Magic or TCB Hair Food to grease the scalp, and shampoo to wash it all out---AND IT WORKS FOR HIM OR HER---fine. If a curly girl wants to straighten once a week or once a year---so be it.
To the newly naturals: if you find yourself being criticized for your natural hair practices, listen politely, deflect, and keep it moving. Natural Hair Police officers mean well but don't realize that they can come across as judgmental, critical, and rude. Take the "juices and berries" from their statements and leave the "dirt" behind. Listen to fellow naturals, read everything you can about maintaining healthy hair, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
To the veterans: Remember that you too were newly BCed or transitioners once. If a newbie ASKS for advice, give it with love and support, and don't take it personally if they do something different. Don't force your opinion on other naturals, and save the sarcasm. The natural hair journey is just that--we are all still learning how to care for our curls, kinks, and everything in between. The goal isn't to prove that you have an advanced degree in "Nappology" but to be a source of wisdom and encouragement.
Remember Beauties--we are in this movement together, so stop writing citations on social media and start enjoying the awesomeness that is natural hair!
Being a Natural Mama...To a Son
When I began my natural journey, I was fortunate to have the support of my husband, family members, and close friends. However, my biggest cheerleader turned out to be the smallest member of our family--my almost six-year-old son, Dean.
I'd never really considered how HUGE of an impact returning to natural would have on my son. I mean, we've seen the beautiful photos of mamas and their natural mini-mes; we've read the countless posts on how meaningful a journey it's been for women who get to share the road with their daughters. But what about the sons? Did changing one's hair impact the men-in-training who'd much rather play with trucks that watch Mama's hair growth? The answer surprised, enlightened, and encouraged me far more than I could even imagine.
Dean, my only child, changed my life for the better from day one. He and I share an amazing bond--we are both sensitive and loving, yet strong and fearless. Besides being super smart, he can make a friend wherever he goes and doesn't have a shy bone in his body. My little guy also possesses an unusual sense of self for someone so young...his perceptiveness doesn't allow him to miss much.
However, my only boy is definitely a boy's boy--he loves video games, running and playing...pretty much any "boy-oriented" activity goes right up his alley. So imagine my shock when I walked in from my BC (big chop), and he shouted, "Mom, you cut your hair!!! It looks AWESOME!!!!" Not only did he notice, he made his feelings about it crystal clear (LOL). How could I not be confident about my short curls after getting such an enthusiastic response?
As my natural hair journey has continued, Dean hasn't shied away from giving his honest opinions and solid encouragement. He loves my hair whether it's perfectly curly after a wash and go, slicked back into a puff for work, or in its big afro glory. Not only does he watch my hair's evolution with fascination, but he also insists on nothing but natural products in his own hair (Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk is his favorite).
It's been said that we can learn so much from children, and my son Dean has proven that for sure! His unconditional acceptance of the natural me as his first female role model bodes well for his future relationships. My son will grow up appreciating the beauty of a woman's lush, wild, and beautiful kinky curls. Even more importantly, he will value the importance of accepting himself without the stresses of trying to conform to European standards.
My boy loves my hair no matter what state it's in, but he believes that my natural curls are "the most beautiful of all". As a natural mama raising a future doctor, lawyer, singer, and President (his words), it doesn't get any better than that.
My Natural Journey...So Far
In October 2011, I sat in my stylist's chair to get a relaxer for the last time. Nearly 20 years of chemical burns, running from the elements, and stunted hair growth had finally taken their toll--I was ready to break my addiction to the creamy crack!
My addiction to straight hair, however, took several more months to break. I stopped getting relaxers, but I straightened my hair religiously once a month. My scalp no longer bore the scabs of chemical burns, but my tresses were still suffering from the heat damage. Finally, in February 2012, I decided to transition back to my natural state. For the next nine months, I worked hard to figure out what worked and what didn't. As my curls began to show themselves, I fell in love.
July 2012 brought independence from the stress of chemical damage, severe dandruff, and stringy ends...I finally big chopped! I couldn't believe how beautiful, confident, and free the woman in the mirror looked---she was me!
This journey hasn't been easy---I still can't flat twist to save my life lol--but in taking better care of my curls, I've found a wealth of strength and appreciation for my natural beauty that I've never really had before. I see myself differently now--confident, fearless, strong. No matter how rebellious my hair gets, I truly appreciate every naturally curly strand. :-)