I’ve technically been natural for almost a decade! Wow. It was 2000 when I shaved my head (literally, I had a fade) originally for cathartic reasoning, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I started to really focus on growing healthy natural hair. When I refer to my BC, I’m always pointing to September 2006. And when I talk about my journey, I tend to focus on the period since then.
But I think I owe it to myself, newbies, and everyone else that is struggling with some of my past issues (you’ll know who you are in a sec) to talk about my six years of wandering before reaching my own follicular nirvana (not saying it’s perfect for every one to try, but my routine works for me, I like it, and I’m sticking to it). At the very least, I can outline some of my past tribulations in an attempt to offer lessons learned even if only one doesn’t have to suffer.
Let’s rewind the tape for a moment for a little historical analysis…
Denial. Deemed Sigmund Freud’s most notable defense mechanism.
a. A refusal to accept or believe something, such as a doctrine or belief.b. Psychology An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.
When I started growing my hair after my original, I did everything imaginable…
- Used every product in the book listed by every head of curly hair, not focusing on those with similar traits as my own
- Straightened, straightened, and straightened some more (I had a weekly standing appointment at one point)
- Never used heat protectant when I straightened
- Washed my hair looking for the squeaky clean feeling
- A few times, while a super duper rush, I actually flat ironed my still damp hair. Sizzle. Sizzle. Sizzle.
- Never knew what “protecting my ends” meant
But you couldn’t tell me a thing. Why? Because I was natural.
I remember once when I had an appointment to get my hair twisted. The stylist told me that I still had some relaxer left on my hair and that the style would hold better if I finished cutting it out. I turned, and vehemently stated she was mistaken because my hair was fully natural. And she replied that it wasn’t possible and that stylists could tell the difference between relaxed and natural hair. I was appalled. How could she claim to know the difference given that there was not an iota of relaxer remaining on my tresses. I vowed to never return to that salon again, upset when I overheard a general conversation about “these girls that don’t want to give up their dead, relaxed ends”…how could that be talking about me in ear shot like that! Rude, gossipy conversation aside, I just didn’t get the flashing lights that were right in front of my eyes.
I would say it was probably another year before I finally gave up the routine straightening and started experimenting with twists. And I would rant about my “pesky straight ends” and complain “about the way my hair grew”. 😐
Really? It’s hard for me to actually type this without laughing. I really and truly believed that my hair somehow, magically grew this way. That it defied nature and went from textured at the roots to straight near the ends. At that time, in my head, my hair was simply the ultimate example of extreme, multiple textures.
It actually took a lot of research, even more time, and a few more BCs to get to a very short, but finally fully natural AND healthy state. Given that my hair keeps growing with each chop, I imagine I could have had waist length hair by now had I known then what I know now. But, you live, you experience, you make mistakes, you move on and you grow (figuratively and literally).
In Pt. 2, I will post some pics of the old journey vs. the new and outline the mistakes I’ve made in the past, with the hope of enlightening someone somewhere.
Good luck to all and happy growing (or whatever your goal is!!).