The other day I was explaining to someone that I have been natural on and off for over ten years. I have been rocking natural since before it was a “trend” or a “movement”. The woman I was talking to asked me, “So, are you here to stay?” Excitedly I declared, “YES!”. We proceeded to chat about how we could never go back to perm. I say this now, but 3 years ago, this was not the case. So, what changed in the way I felt about my natural hair?
First off, I developed a new attitude. The new buzz phrase in the natural hair community is “Natural Hair, Don’t Care.” To rock natural hair with confidence, you really have to develop a certain sass or swag about your hair. Now, I’m not talking about becoming phony or bourgeois, but when people see you, they need to see a woman who is not ashamed of the big puff atop her head. The naysayers about my hair suddenly became irrelevant in terms of the way I styled my hair (even family members). Either you were for me or against me. If you were against my hair, then I quickly changed the topic. My choice to go natural was not up for discussion. In the past, I let folks get to me, but not anymore.
Second, there are more resources now than ever before. From blogs to Youtube to online communities like the Love Your Naps Facebook Group, you are never without support in your decision.
Lastly, I learned how to adapt to the way my natural hair behaves instead of trying to make fit into the permed look I was used to. I also learned how adjust my schedule to my texture. Styling and manipulating afro-textured hair everyday in the same manner as relaxed hair is just not an option. You will either be late for your appointment or be tempted to use damaging hair practices to whip the hair into shape. Instead, I learned to plan out my styles for the week.
So, do I ever want to go back? Sometimes. I mostly dream of going back on bad hair days. But then, I remind myself that I had bad hair days even when I was relaxed. Other times, I think of going back when I just want to blend in and assimilate. I don’t always like the attention that comes with natural hair. But then, I wake up and realize that, “HELLO! Our very presence as Black people commands attention. So, get over it.” Stand up and be confident in who you are.
Tell us, do you ever want to go back to relaxer? What keeps you natural? Please use the comment section below or join us on Facebook.
Have you ever had to run out of the house for a short errand but didn’t want to take down or style your hair? Do you:
a) Just stay in the house until you are ready to deal with your hair
b) Say fit forget it, step outside with your do-rag on, looking like you are about the clean the house
c) Spend time styling your hair only to have to re-style it again
d) Or, rock a headwrap with style and class?
Let’s go with answer “d”. Sistas, please stop coming outside on the block with do-rags, shower caps and bonnets on your head. You can find used fabric at the thrift store and it only takes minute to tie a cute headwrap, throw in some bangle earrings, jeans and a shirt to have a fashionable look. This a great look if you are transitioning or just need a break from styling. Check out African Export’s video below on how to tie a headwrap. Share your headwrap photos with us on our Facebook page.
Are you thinking about going natural, but not sure how doing so will impact your career? Are you looking to go on a job interview, but unsure of how your natural hair will be perceived? Many women, especially those in the corporate world feel pressured to stay relaxed because of the stigmas associated with natural hair. The CNN video below contrasts two women, both are natural (one is transitioning). One woman is a marketing exec who chooses to wear her hair in its kinky state, the other woman is a financial exec who chooses to wear it straightened.
In the video, each woman talks about the perceptions people have about natural hair. Ivy, the marketing exec who chose to wear her hair kinky, notes that it’s not really her fellow White co-workers, but fellow Blacks who give her the most flack over wearing kinky hair. They usually have all these perceptions about natural hair and want to know if it’s damaging to your career. Many are surprised to learn that Ivy has been natural for 12 years. Being natural has not stopped her from moving up the corporate ladder into more senior roles.
Natural Hair Perceptions
“People might think I’m earthy and “granola” (i.e. you’d rather hug a tree than a human)”
“People might think I’m agressive and a know-it-all”
“People might think I’m unkempt or unclean”
“People might think I’m lazy”
“People might think I’m uneducated”
“People might think I’m Afrocentic (not saying that’s bad)”
“People might think I’m___________________”
All these perceptions begin with the phrase, “People might think” True. They might think those things. However your interview, your resume, your interactions and actions speak for themselves.
Getting over the “hair” conversation
Michelle, the financial exec who wears her hair straightened, expressed that one difficult thing to get over is the initial reaction people have when they see you are natural. She retold the story of a co-worker who wore her afro to work and everyone looked at her strange. I think one of the most hassling things about wearing natural hair to work is the questions. Whites and Blacks alike who do not have curly/kinky hair tend to ask some of the same questions like: How did you get your hair like that? Does it just grow like that? Have you ever thought about straightening your hair? Does it itch?
I mean, really? Do I really want to feel like some exhibit at the zoo? In my experience, the questions will eventually subside. If you don’t make your hair a big deal, others won’t either. People may perceive you one way based on you hair, but once they get to know you, they realize that you actually know what you are talking about. I would hope that people think that I am a smart, free-thinking and conscientiousness person because I have natural hair. But then again, who cares what people think?
Please share your thoughts and experiences, and reactions to the video in the comment section below.