I’m the type of person that will never tell you what you want to hear, only what you need to hear. I find it virtually impossible to lie. Some people appreciate that right off the bat, others see it later. I treat my friends like family and always try to respect other people in the way I would like to be respected. I’m a mother and a wife, in that order. My religious views are a mash-up of many different beliefs, largely Fulfilled Rastafari. That said, I believe reincarnation is the ever-after, love all and harm none, and I’ve always wanted to die laughing.Now that we’ve established a general schematic of who I am, let’s talk about hair! I did the big chop myself on October 9, 2009 after transitioning for over a year (about 18 months). A few days before doing the BC, I’d chopped off my relaxed ends in relatively large section in the back without even thinking about it. I was so shocked at what I did, I couldn’t believe it! I kept saying, “What did I just do?!” I calmed down enough to laugh and make a vlog about it right afterwards, but after that, I was ready. Once I cut it, I was loving my TWA.
Transitioning to and finally going completely natural wasn’t difficult for me at all since I would go several months without retouching when I was relaxed, anyway and I never really liked the process of perming. I would ALWAYS end up with chemical burns that wept and crusted. It was gross and painful. I never liked the idea of having to withstand burning pain long enough for my hair to stay bone straight. Relaxing was something I thought I was supposed to do to be a “big girl”; I was natural and sporting pigtails up until the 4th grade. Secretly, I grew to dislike perms and I loved the feeling of my new growth. I felt the pull to go natural for years before I even realized it.
I didn’t encounter any negativity at all, except from my mother (who quickly got over it and is now transitioning …or something like that). She actually said to me, “Don’t cut your hair. If it’s too short, you’ll look like a man! If you grow it out, all you can do is wear an afro! You’ll look crazy.” lol SMDH I said, “I have about 6 inches or so of natural hair already.” She replied, “Oh. Well, that’s not so bad.” So like I said, just as quickly as she protested, she was over it.
Like many, I’m not a fan of the most widely “accepted” hair typing system (Andre Walker). I actually prefer the LOIS system because it is more detailed and accurate and also less divisive, but because everyone understands the Andre Walker system–for the most part–I will use it to help describe my slightly odd curl pattern. My hair has both 3B and 4A curl patterns (predominantly 4A), or OS (LOIS), with a combination of fine and normal strand thickness, is cotton-like in absorbency, has a low to normal porosity, and is fairly dense, particularly in the back. My hair has a looser, medium-small S-curl pattern in the front and crown, ringlets around my ears, and smaller S-curls over the rest of my head with some tighter, hybrid coily ones in the back. It is thicker and denser in the back, which makes it a pain to detangle and more prone to SSKs, dryness, and breakage. My hair loves humectants, butters, and deep conditioning with the use of a plastic bag and a heat source as it can be troublesome to get moisture to penetrate low porosity hair sometimes.
When I first went natural, I would redo my hair, products and all, every single night when I got home, which was tiring (a most egregious understatement). I also washed my hair multiple times a week with a sulfate shampoo and ripped through my hair with nothing more than water and a regular comb and brush. To sum up my first year, I did EVERYTHING you shouldn’t, but somehow my hair managed to endure and retain length. Fast-forward to now, I’m proud to say I have learned to pay attention to my hair and what it needs as well as what products and practices work best to keep my hair healthy. The biggest lesson I’ve learned as far as healthy hair care practices is that you can’t always follow a strict regime because there will always be x factors, such as weather, efficacy of products, time constraints, etc, that may require you to differentiate from the routine and try something new (or in some cases, old).
I have a length goal to get back to the length my hair was when I was a kid (tailbone length), but I know that cannot be achieved without healthy hair so I’ve resolved to do all that I can to keep my hair and body healthy. Healthy hair and a gentle, simple hair care routine yields growth and length retention. I absolutely do not believe that silliness about people having a terminal length. If your hair isn’t retaining length, there is something in your hair care methods that is preventing it from doing so (excessive coloring, trimming too often, poor diet, etc). Hair itself is dead, but constantly growing from the scalp so you must preserve the hair that has already grown in order to retain length. Saying people have a terminal length equates to “black people can’t grow long hair” and we all know that simply isn’t true.
I love playing in my hair, but after coming to the realization that I’d hit a plateau in my growth at APL, I had to examine what I was doing to stunt the growth I was achieving before. It wasn’t until 2012 that I determined constant styling, detangling, and wearing my hair out and letting it brush my shoulders was to blame. From there, I started protective styling and trimming as needed. Upon completing my 90-day updo challenge, I retained about 1 1/2 inches, which reaffirmed my diagnosis.
It feels strange to say it, but going natural has changed my way of thinking, allowed me to feel free to be myself, led me to lead an overall healthier lifestyle, and opened many more creative outlets for me. It’s been a beautiful ongoing experience filled with self-realization, self-love, and self-improvement. … All because I cut my hair.
Keep up with my hair journey from the beginning to the present: