Saturday, May 3, 2014

so...Here's My Natural Hair Journey!

I guess I can label myself as an infrequent blogger now...

-but anyways here's a story about how\why\when I became a naturalista!


I began my transition around the 5th or 6th grade. I remember the exact details of this historical moment in my life! It all started on a summer day, it was during one of those out-of-school summer breaks; I was watching Jenny Jones (yea, that was a while back!) and it was one of those make-over episodes. One of the guests was a biracial teen girl that had very long and curly hair. The girl and her mother complained about how her hair wasn’t easy to comb or style and that the kids at school made fun of her for it. The show’s make-over solution to this was to straighten her hair; she loved it. I on the other hand LOVED the massive curly crinkles and waves! I told my sister, who was watching with me, that I wanted my hair like that -curly. She said that my hair would look like that if I stopped relaxing it because of our dad's side of the family (mixed up African-American genes with European lineage that you don't know anything about...but that's another rant story) having that particular curly texture . Next thing I remember is running upstairs to tell my mom that I didn’t want her to relax my hair anymore. She smiled and said, "Ok, but I'm not going to be doing it [your hair] anymore either." and I said, "OK!". 

So, as my hair grew my waves formed, having that still processed straight hair at the ends. I was young, I didn't care and it didn't bother me either or my classmates, in fact, they loved my hair! The guys would always comment on the waves sayin' that they were 360°s and then tease the other guys tellin' them my waves were better than theirs! Looking back my positive feed back from my peers in elementary school might have been mostly due to that fact that I pretty much grew up with them throughout the school years, because when I got to high school it was a completely different story.

Here, in high school, as a teenager, this is where I got the most mixed reviews. No one knew me there, I went to a school outside of my neighborhood. This school, just like my other; predominantly Black. There was like five Latino students, a few biracials, and like one White kid. The majority of the White populous were the teachers. So I was surrounded by brown skin people for the most part; people like me. This did not stop the harsh reality of me being ostracized for my kinky, curly hair; something that I never experienced before until then. First, during my freshman year, whenever I wore my hair in a puff (instead of my usual braid-out or twists) I was sure to get a comment -a negative comment. I remember two incidents specifically. I was walking in the crowded, loud hallway to my next class and one black girl looked at my hair and said to the other next to her "ugh". I remember feeling annoyed and upset, mostly upset and hurt. Then another time I was in the restroom waiting in line to use the sink when a fellow black, brown skin girl behind me looked my way and said to another "I'm glad I don't come to school with my hair not done." (side note, I gave her the death stare and she didn't say anything else after that, HA!)

As for the positive critiques on my hair, they mostly came from when I wore my hair in a braid-out or twist-out. I heard comments like "you have good-hair", "I can't wear my hair like that 'cause I don't have good-hair", and the one I even heard asked in elementary school sometimes "how you get yo' hair like dat?!" I find that comment the most astonishing because this hit me with the reality of how misinformed we (black-american people) are about our own hair! I always told them it was naturally curly, not knowing what else to say, I was like "it just grows out of my head this way, doesn't yours?". Then, here's another kicker, I remember receiving a lot of positive comments about my natural hair from white guys! One time in particular, I was at Bally's (I was a health conscious kid because of my dad, he got me a membership there when I was in high school, love him) this white guy on the machine next to me asked if that was my real hair, I said yes wondering what his point was, he said "oh, because I like it when women where their hair like that." so I replied "oh, thank you" and then feeling flattered and a little bit weirded-out because he was older than me giving this high school girl compliments in the gym... Then, there were these after school activities I was involved in where I had the opportunity to mingle with peers outside of my community where I received admiration about my curly locks. The other kids, (didn't matter what ethnicity, all of 'em would do it) would pull at a curl and watch it spring back up into it's shape commenting on this phenomenal occurrence! I really didn't mind though, I found it amusing that they found it amusing! 

Then, there were the few times I decided to wear my hair straight. I remember one time in particular, this black guy never made a comment about my hair or gave me a compliment until the day I wore it straight, he said "I like your hair like that". I was like "Wow, really?! You never had anything to say to me about my hair until I straightened it?" I actually asked him this, he didn't know what to say. Then, my senior year I wore it straight for those string of events (luncheon, prom, graduation) and on one of the graduation rehearsal days one of the black girls told me "I like it when you wear your hair like that, you should you should wear your hair like that..." implying that I should always and only wear it straightened. I just looked at her while she was saying this and said "Oooh" while walking away, not wanting to hear that. 

During these years of adolescence I both still hope and feel that I was some kind of positive influence in this whole natural hair culture. I think I'm pretty sure I was because I remember having a conversation with one of my high school peers about growing out the relaxer and going natural. She expressed how she wanted to do that but was afraid, or hesitant about it. I remember sometime with in the next years in school she began to wear her hair in a wavy, curly puff. I remember being glad to see that and feeling gratitude for being one of the possible influencers to her transition. I remember seeing a few other girls I new in my 'teens wearing their hair naturally via facebook. 

For the most part in my adult years, I haven't really received any really negative experiences about wearing my hair naturally. I'd say that they have been pretty positive, besides the occasional sort-of-compliment, sort-of-not, about having "good hair". Now as an adult I am still trying to become comfortable with the idea of wearing my hair full-out, big curly 'fro, I've always shyed away from this, preferring to wear just braid-outs and twist-outs instead. So, I'm still on this natural journey looking to reach new heights of confidence within myself, but I'm really grateful for how far I've gotten and how it has transformed my mentality and view of the world. My hair was an active participant in making me who I am right now. Looking back I believe it gave me a unique perspective and experience in my coming of age. 
I'm so happy! 

big hair dont care, nautral hair, 'fro, afro, curly hair
Me before getting ready to wash my hair! :)