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!