I’ve just passed the one year anniversary of my latest foray into natural hair. Here I take a trip down memory lane and relive what the latest trip to kinks looked like:
It’s been a long time coming … almost a year. My exciting “OMG I’VE NEVER BEEN ALLOWED TO HAVE A PERM AND NOW I WILL HAVE EVERY HAIRSTYLE KNOWN TO MAN” journey was boring me. When I decided I was finally going to go back to natural, I didn’t do a big chop, like I had my sophomore yeah of college. Neither did I wear months of box braids and micros, like I did my freshman year of High School. I decided to try out my “long hair don’t care” and get some sew-in in my life. Now as a girl who’s known for doing her own dye-job and blow-out in a college dorm bathroom and at home perms to her San Francisco roommates’ terror (a near-balding experience, despite the number of times I’d done it before), choosing such a pricey route makes no sense. Between the cost of hair and the cost of the service, the whole thing can get pretty wild, but I’d found a lady who would do it on the cheap, and thus my road back to natural was paved.
It’s a tough thing though, getting used to swinging your hair around, doing nothing to it and having it look presentable, being able to dye and fry and cut it with no regard for your, or its, or the environment’s health… It got to the point where I was as afraid of taking my weave down and wearing my hair completely natural as I would suspect a person who’s been getting baby perms since the age of four must feel. Fortunately though, I have a rule: My hair can’t rule me. If I ever caught myself flipping those micros behind my shoulder as if they were mine, that would be the day I would take them out. I had to be my own person. I had to be able to live without attaching my self-worth to a particular hairstyle. (of course that was back in the day when I weighed two pounds and was in track shape and could leave the house without makeup…. but I’m trying to hold on to the logic).
|Photo Credt: JVR!
Anyway, when I got that same itch I always do- the “IF I don’t take this weave out right now and get reacquainted with my scalp, I will scream” itch, I decided that I would keep it out for good. I had enough of my own hair to style, and when the first sight of my tight, natural bush moved me to tears (no spiritual evocations of connections to Africa here, these were real, I hate my hair and oh LAWD I look so ugly, tears), I surmised that I’d made the right choice. Clearly my attachment had grown dangerously strong, and I needed to get myself back to center.
After an emergency sit-between-your-mama’s-legs-and-let-her-show-you-what-this-hair-can-do intervention, I felt a bit better, and steeled myself for the final step- cutting out all the remaining perm. I went to a Philadelphia salon to be conditioned before I was washed (whut.) and got all my hair lopped off. The hairdresser then proceeded to style me with flat and two strand twists to create a fraux-hawk. The entire experience was scored by an interesting Pandora station that featured high-singing guys. Michael Jackson, Robin Thicke, and Jon B. I felt like I was squealing alongside them.
The style wasn’t turning out how I’d planned. My (then) boyfriend was going to see me natural for the first time in our relationship, and this wasn’t the perfection I’d imagined. By the time we got back to SF a few days later, I’d abandoned the style and pulled my hair back into conservative, wide, poof.
It was boring. It wasn’t me. But it was the only way I felt I could enter the world.
The transition isn’t easy. I didn’t feel any connection with the homeland. I didn’t feel healthier and superior and authentic or any of the other things the women of this new hair movement seemed to exude.
I’ve been natural for nearly two decades all told… And I didn’t feel like me.
I bought the best makeup and big earrings I could find. I tried to find my femininity in clothing instead of my hair. I got back into giant headbands. Things changed. Slowly. I got used to me. So did everyone else.
My hair will always be more of a personal journey and triumph than a political statement. And this time around, I won.