So this happened! Around the same time I learned that I was pregnant with my baby boy Xavi, I decided to return to my natural hair. I was tired of relaxers and I was becoming more health conscious. The pregnancy was just the icing on the cake which firmed up my decision.
To my relaxed hair:
These last fourteen years have been filled with ups and downs. There were times when you were well-behaved and on point and looked absolutely beautiful and I felt absolutely beautiful.
Then there were many, many times I simply pulled you back in one ponytail because it was easy and I didn’t quite know what else to do with you.
I have worn you chin length and at your longest you fell way past my shoulders.
You framed these cheek bones and added a bit of Je ne sais pas to my look. I felt confident and beautiful when you were freshly done and when my natural roots were present and I was due for a relaxer I said things like “What am I going to do with this natural hair’ and ‘I need to get this natural hair done’ because if I didn’t you would start to do things like ‘break’ and ‘get frizzy’ and nobody wants that.
You came into my life with a fizzle as my first relaxer was a very traumatic experience (I got burnt on my forehead and my hair looked like a limp short mess) yet I persevered. Fast forward a few years later and I found a great hairdresser while at University who showed me that my hair could grow past a certain length and have loads of body in its relaxed state. I started to get comments like ‘Is that your real hair?’ or ‘Who did your weave?’ It felt good. My hair became a semi-important part of my identity.
Fast forward a few years more and we fell out of love. It didn’t happen overnight but like any relationship which isn’t cared for, nurtured, maintained and entertained, things took a turn for the worse without either of us really paying attention. We tried to recapture the love and we did to a certain extent but the seeds of discontent had already been planted.
I no longer wished to spend hours at the hairdresser applying well-meaning chemicals to my natural hair every 10 to 12 weeks. I started to betray you by watching videos on YouTube of girls with natural hair instead of those with relaxed hair. I started to tell others that I was going back natural which meant that I could not or would not backtrack on my word.
I didn’t get rid of you right away. I kept you around for eight long months as I allowed my natural hair to grow. I wasn’t brave enough to cut you off right away and rock a teeny weeny afro (TWA). I was still hiding behind you but at eight months and a few weeks before I gave birth to my son, I had enough! I big chopped and my smile was huge. A lady at the hairdresser said that pregnancy makes you brave and that women often do things during this time which they wouldn’t consider otherwise. I felt brave.
The hairdresser asked me if I wanted to keep my straightened hair which had fallen to the floor – ‘enough to make a wig’ she said. I looked at you with no emotion and told her ‘no thanks’ and she threw you in the trash.
Even though you were gone, it still was not time to show off my natural hair to the world. I put in braids right after cutting you off as I knew I would not be able to handle my new natural hair and a new baby. It wasn’t that I missed you because I didn’t.
So to my relaxed hair, this is my new natural hair. Honestly, I don’t know how best to care for this new hair yet, and I don’t have any wonderful hairstyles. I know my natural hair and I will have our share of ups and downs just like we did.
My mom reminded me the other day that when I relaxed my hair at 18, I said I was never going back natural. Relaxed hair it is a reminder that we should never say never. I can’t say that I will never relax my hair again but I can say that I do not want to.
So we are going to take this natural hair journey one step at a time. My hair and I are open to suggestions and feedback. We just want to be our most natural and beautiful selves and we know it will take time to find what works best for us.
To our sisters with natural hair, relaxed hair, locs, dreadlocks, braids, weave – stay beautiful because we are all beautiful regardless of how we choose to wear our hair. Our most beautiful accessory next to our smile is confidence.
Goodbye relaxed hair and welcome natural hair! The journey continues…
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