Today is–as the title states–my fourth anniversary of being natural! Four years ago today, I cut the last of my relaxed ends off. This year I wanted to do something a little different; I decided to write a post telling my transition and big chop story. It won’t be a novel, I promise.
Going natural is something I only entertained in my thoughts. I would smooth my fingertips over the waves of my new growth and wondered what could have been had my parents not cut my hair (damage), had I not asked for a relaxer or had my mother not yielded to my pleading, had I not gotten a second haircut (more damage). What if I had never relaxed my hair? How long it would be now. Secretly, I wanted to stop relaxing for years. It seemed a rite of passage into young womanhood, therefore, something I had to do so I did when I was in fourth grade. After overhearing “friends” snickering about my nappy hair, I felt like the puffy pigtails I wore everyday had to go before I hit middle school, but once the kinks were gone, I just want to see those wet curly-Q’s from my baby pictures again.
Fast-forward to my early 20’s, and my hair had grown considerably since the last drastic haircut (a bob the stylist cut wrong). At that point it was BSL, but thinning, breaking at the roots, and damaged at the ends. I would go a month or two without relaxing because my mother would put it off and since the two textures would clash, combined with my lack of proper hair care practices, my hair was falling out all over my shoulders, bathroom counter, and floor when I combed it. I would often flat iron my hair with a curler sans heat protectant, wet, with high heat to keep frizz away and blend my roots with the rest of my hair. I tore my hair up and I was paying for it. It was a big concern for me.
One day, I met up with an old friend who has locs and I commented on how much I liked her hair and expressed how much I wish my hair could do the same. She simply replied, “You can.” That was all that was really said about it, but it stuck with me when I left. I drove home imagining what my hair would look like, what people would say, how carefree my hair care routine would be (ha. haha. hahaha. right.), and wondering, “What styles could I possibly do with it?” My friend’s words hovered at the forefront of my mind for a few months after that, as I was getting my last relaxer, every time I styled my hair. It had never really occurred to me that I had a choice. Finally, I began scoping YouTube and Google for videos and information on afro hair and locs. I watched video after video after video until at last I decided going natural was the answer to my thinning, damaged hair. My hair would be healthier, thicker, stronger, and I was comforted by the fact that
i could transition to a comfortable length (I was used to having long hair). I had a few styles any techniques in my repertoire too, thanks to the ladies of YT.
I transitioned for about 18 months using bantu knot-outs, which I loved, braid-outs, straw sets, and twist-outs. Puffs, curly bobs, and huge afros became my go-to styles when I didn’t have lot of time. I got several compliments on my “fro,” mostly from nonblacks. I never would have imagined that anyone outside of the African-American community would appreciate my kinky hair, but lo. During this time, I enjoyed imagining what my hair would look like once I was ready to cut it. Would it consist of waves, corkscrews, S-curls, zig-zags? The Andre Walker hair typing system was fresh in my mind and the only point of reference I had besides that darkened baby picture of me getting my hair washed. My hair grew and grew over the 18 month transition period and I trimmed splits as time went on until one day I took a picture and posted it to Facebook. In the photo, I had about 2 1/2 to 3 inches of relaxed hair left and an acquaintance (natural) commented, “Girl, cut that off.” I took another look at the picture and thought, “She’s right. What am I holding onto those wispy little ends for?” I wasn’t quite ready at that time so I tried to psych myself up by watching big chop videos. There were videos of girls who cried, others who stood in the mirror shocked and unsure, and more still who were excited. I was anxious for a peek at what awaited me after the not-so-big chop and curious about how I would react.
After several days of watching big chop videos, which was all I did when I got home from school and work, I decided to do a “sample cut.” I grabbed a pair of scissors I had lying around, sectioned off an inch thick row of the nape area, wet my hair, and… snip. Upon cutting the last straight bit of hair in the row, I felt as though I had been in a trance and I suddenly snapped out of it to find someone had cut my hair. My eyes grew wide as saucers. I grabbed my hair and kept shouting, “What did i just do??!! What the hell did I just do??!!” I said that several more times before I got over my initial shock and cracked a smile. I laughed about it and immediately vlogged it on YT.
Not long after that video, My mother called and I mentioned wanting to cut the entirety of my hair and go natural. She said, “Don’t cut your hair! If it’s too short, you’ll look like a man! If you grow it out, all you’ll be able to do is wear an afro! You’ll look crazy!” LOL I eased her apprehension by saying I’d already grown out at least six inches of natural hair. Her reply was “Oh. That’s not so bad.” When I finally chopped all the ends off I took a good look at my hair. It wasn’t what I expected; it was a frizzy, curly TWA (I miss my TWA) that shrunk up to three inches above my head. I loved it! I loved washing it, styling it, playing with it, learning about through trial and error (oh the errors), trying different products and techniques. My mother didn’t say anything about it after that and when my dad saw me he was thrilled I decided to stop relaxing my hair. My boyfriend, now husband, initially didn’t think i should cut it either, but once he saw it, he was on board too. In fact, now he hates when I wear extensions of any kind and even when I style my hair in natural twists or braids he asks, “When am I going to get my poof back?” It’s wonderful that I had such a great support system, considering it was the beginning of the “neo-natural hair movement” and there weren’t too many women walking around my area with natural hair.
After years of pretending I enjoyed relaxers, I finally cut it all off and reacquainted myself with my natural hair. I didn’t realize how much i loved it until it was gone and now I’m elated to have it back. You couldn’t get me to trade my hair for a million bucks. So cheers to many more years of afro love! 🙂 Peace & Love