I visited a family member recently and I never thought I would have to stand my ground with this particular individual EVER in life. I never thought that I would be arguing about hair.
She looked at me and told me that she didn't like my appearance. She told me that my hair was unacceptable and that black people no longer have to walk around looking like hooligans because there are so many different things out there for us to help us keep a more maintained look.
I have semi freeform locks. My locks are low maintenance for the most part. I wash my hair and separate them to prevent the merging of my locks into bigger ones. My locks sit on a one to two inch afro. I chose this route once I began my lock journey because it just felt right.
Going through a lock process you will encounter what society views as an ugly stage. I beg to differ. I do not think there is an ugly stage. This ugly stage supposedly refers to the time your locks are doing whatever they want and are not in a neat and organized fashion so they could be poking out all over the place. It was not until I began my natural hair journey in 2012 that I understood the amount of damage that has been done to how we view our hair.
I shared with my family member how I felt about their views and it deeply saddens me to know that there are people of our own ethnicity who feel like the hair that grows from our scalp is not the hair we should embrace. If there were never a relaxer created would we just hate our looks? Is this truly self love to not love every part of your being?
I went from loose natural hair to locks and many have supported my decision and others (like my family member) think I have gone crazy. They think I need to talk to someone. I find this hilarious, literally. I may go talk to someone but it will not be about my decision to lock, it will be about learning some ways to reprogram their thinking process.
Being a natural hair video blogger, I have noticed division in the natural hair community. It is unfortunate but it is there: The division lies is all about hair textures. This has resulted in the labelling of hair as being either good hair or bad hair.
My hair is far from loose textured but many have come to me for help and without even realizing it they pretty much tell me my hair is bad in so many ways or they say that my hair looks good on me but the texture doesn't look good on everybody. This is merely the mindset (programming) that needs to be unlearned.
I have two daughters whose hair care regimens I also share on my social media platforms.
My oldest daughter went through an episode at five years of age where a fungus began to grow on her scalp. I didn't want to relax her hair but she was on medications for weeks to try and kill this fungus and it was only spreading. It had a terrible odor and she was really embarrassed by it. I decided to apply a relaxer to kill it. The relaxer killed the fungus. Hmmm.....how about that!
Relaxers are not healthy but I couldn't sit back and watch my baby go through the fungus ordeal. I do not recommend anyone apply a relaxer to kill fungus as I am not a medical doctor. This does show how strong relaxer chemicals are. It was able to kill a fungus that she was being treated for for weeks with oral meds and medicated shampoos. She has since transitioned back to natural hair and only asks for blow outs as she understands the versatility of natural hair.
My youngest daughter doesn't know anything about relaxers. She doesn't complain about her hair and it is just a part of her as it should be. This shows me that it is what is taught to us as to whether or not we just simply embrace what is ours. My daughter doesn't know about anything different so when she requests hair styles she requests natural styles that she picks out from the computer. She doesn't think her hair is bad or too kinky. It is her hair, PERIOD.
As a mother my children are always watching. If I complain about my hair they will do the same. If I tell them their hair is bad out of impatience while styling their hair then they will believe it. If I embrace mine and encourage them to do the same they will embrace theirs and encourage others to do the same.
What are we teaching those that we love about natural hair? Are we teaching them that it is ugly or bad hair or are we teaching them to love their God-given hair?
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18/9/2016 04:26:01 pm
Love, love, love this article. I see this all the time. I started my natural journey in 2011 and I haven't look back. I love the skin I'm in and my natural hair too. In which by the way is 4c. I constantly catch myself telling my black sistas about our hair, some are relaxed and some not. I get so passionate about it when I talk about...I just feel like sanging!!! lol. With that being said I will never let Society or my own kind make me feel some type of way about MY HAIR!!!!!!
18/9/2016 05:01:47 pm
We have been brainwashed and manipulated so long about our hair, appearance, behavior, and the way we talk that we have lost sight of who we are. Due to this, many people feel that being true to oneself is not what is acceptable. We should feel free to live and be as we want, as long as we are not hurting anyone. Its up to us to change society's views and our own. We can no longer allow others to tell us what is appropriate or not. I say be free and live your own truth.
19/9/2016 01:46:09 am
Thank you for your wonderful article. It is truthful. I am transitioning and enjoying it so much. I have observed that many black women
19/9/2016 10:15:50 am
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. I have not only embraced my natural hair, but also the gray. It was very difficult initially to let go. But, I have, and now I am free and not bothered by any negative opinions.
19/9/2016 05:44:12 pm
21/9/2016 10:53:50 pm
Thank you for sharing your experience. My hair has been relaxed for almost 40 years. I recently decided to stop for a while. I tried a weave for six weeks and couldn't get used to it. My hairdresser and others couldnt understand how uncomfortable I felt. Apparently it made me look younger - I disagreed. Over the years I've resisted dyeing my hair because I love the silver that I wake up to every morning. Apparently if I dye it, I'll look younger - I disagree. I'm now five months into relax free hair. The response has been mixed, but the most shocking to date has like you come from a close family member who when she saw me, didn't even greet me. Her first words were "You look old. Really, really old." It took me by surprise, but has made me more determined to continue loving my hair in its natural form. I may relax it again, but right now it suits me just fine.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx