I Am Not My Hair

When I was in college in Baltimore, I saw an older African American woman in a business suit with the most beautiful gray locks I had ever seen. I decided then, that I too wanted to gray with locks. I thought she was elegant, funky and sophisticated. Although we never spoke; to me her hair spoke volumes. It said she had her own definition of beauty, that she was comfortable with her natural state and didn’t mind going against the grain. It’s interesting to think back to images that have changed or molded who we are or choices we make. I had forgotten about the woman and the statement until last week when a woman in the grocery store asked me how long I had been natural.

My canned response is five years and that I decided to go natural when I was trying to conceive my daughter. And while that is partially true, there was a lot more to it than that. Truth is, the idea was sparked from a complete stranger’s self-confidence. From there, it lie dormant in the back of my mind for some 15 years. As I struggled to conceive my daughter, I made a lot of changes. I changed my diet, I changed my exercise routine, I began regular acupuncture and anything else folks said might work. I was determined to whip my body into baby carrying shape. So I made up in mind that anything I wasn’t suppose to do while pregnant, I would never do again; including relaxers. I have since slacked up on this a bit, because I do enjoy a glass of wine.

Now for my non-chocolate mommies, let me explain that a relaxer is a chemical treatment to African American or tight curly hair that makes the hair straight or relax. It has long been said that a person should not chemically treat their hair in the first trimester of pregnancy.

In addition to health, I also have four nieces, the oldest of which is 12-years-old. Her mom and grandmother (my in-laws) and I spent many conversations talking about natural hair goals and what a positive message we would send my niece if we all did it together. And so we did. The perfect storm continued when my husband, who was always supportive, watched the movie “Good Hair” and kicked his support up a notch.

Now before some of my homies call me out, no not everyone was singing Kumbaya about my choice. But there were enough who did that the others were on mute. Besides, I’m pretty headstrong and once I made up my mind, it was a wrap. Speaking of wraps, so far I don’t miss them. I don’t miss relaxers and due to great natural hairstylists at Exquisite Trends in Greenville and A Double Look Salon in Wilson I don’t miss the versatility. My hair is healthier than it has ever been and I am excited about the natural hair phenomena reaching Eastern North Carolina. In fact, this Saturday August 25th I will be at one of several local events providing tutorials and support for those on the natural hair journey ( http://naturalhairlunchandlearn.eventbrite.com/ ).

But as pro-natural as I am, I think India Arie said it best, “I am not my hair” and I don’t think others are either. So whether you have a relaxer, an afro, or weave, do you. I am!

I Am Not My Hair





11 thoughts on “I Am Not My Hair

  1. Thank you for your post! I am a natural sista myself, I can’t tell you how much grief I got for doing the “big chop”. I will honestly say that the day I cut my hair off I felt as if I was finally introduced to myself. What a way to start my journey of self-love. I was told I wouldn’t find a good job, people wouldn’t accept me and I was pushing the envelope too hard. To this day it is by far one of the best choices I’ve made in my adult life. I will continue to encourage my sistas to fee themselves of society’s idea of beauty. I am so proud to say that “My Black is Beautiful”!

  2. Bravo!! Bravo!! For waaaay too long the cultural conditioning, of a black woman’s beauty being partially measured by the straightness of her hair, has gone on. I am so HAPPY to hear of more black women opening their eyes and embracing THEIR BLACKNESS!!! Every time I see a sister with a “natural” I do a “double-take”. You can ask my wife. Lol. My wife also will tell ya I’ve been throwing the idea at her. She’s been ducking and dodging the idea thus far, but I think I’m wearing her down.

    • Man, it’s always nice to hear confirmation from the brothers. I think some sistas have delt with some immature men who have not yet arrived. Your wife is beautiful and your support of her decision means the world to her. Making the transition from relaxer to happy nappy ain’t easy, so I’d rather she wait until she is really feeling it. But next time I see her, we’ll talk about it. :0

  3. Diane as you know i am not natural…But i am all about freedom and creating your own identity. It is such a beautiful thing to know that we live in a world and in a time where natural is truly not just accepted but celebrated. When i look at Bobbi, you and so many others that are natural i see a strong sense of confidence and it makes me proud.You have always been beautiful through your relaxers, weaves, braids but this is DEFINITELY you!!! I love it…

    • Hey ladybug, thanks for stopping by. You ROCK, and you don’t need natural hair to ROCK. LOL. You’ve been around me long enough to see all my phases and love me in spite of…STAY AWESOME…

  4. Diane, I too have enjoyed a variety of hairstyles, including wearing my hair natural for a few years during law school. My mother and sister are also both natural and enjoying fuller hair since their soft hair is flat or limp when relaxed. I agree that knowing your hair helps you to know your true self and we should all feel free to unveil and celebrate the crowns that God has given us. Thanks for another good word, Chocolate Mother!

  5. Yay!!! I wish I had gone natural long ago, since now I am dealing with alopecia issues that probably were hastened by all the things I have done to my hair over the years…..Kudos to you Diane, and all the other natural sisters!!! I love seeing the different styles of locs on both men and women; it does seem to add a regal air to those wearing them…..

  6. ‘Like” Button on this. LOL…i’ve been natural for 10 years and Mickie has been for nearly 15 years. We inspired my mom to go natural too. i fondly call it going chemical-free. even though i wear mine in braids b/c of all the humidity in FL, i love it when i get to blow out the ‘Fro in the winter. Keep up the good work ;o)

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