A new beginning

by Lian OkolieJan 18th, 2020

A new begining

Not inspired by the story, this track was a part of the playlist I listened to while writing this post (repeated more than a few times).

My natural tresses have been a myth to me since since what, 1988/1989? 30 years later I’m finally ready to sever my convoluted ties to my relaxed hair.

“It is done”. That’s what I told my family and friends amidst screams of “whaaat!” “How could you?” “What were you thinking?” “All that hair!”.

Going natural was something I felt I needed to do and what better time for a new beginning than the start of a new decade?

It all started on New year's day 2020. I’d been thinking about going natural for a while but my only memories of my natural hair was at the age of about 10 having my hair cornrowed. I remember crying my eyes out and hearing my mum’s voice “why are you crying, your hair’s so soft”… that didn’t matter to me I just felt pain (I realise now though, it was simply that the person who was doing my hair at the time was maybe a bit too heavy handed). Since then my only hair memories are of relaxed hair. So going natural, although it was something I really wanted to do and experience, was also something I was quite fearful about.

I kept asking myself what if my hair is unmanageable? What if I can’t style it? What if I hated it? What if? What if? What if? I was also thinking “I’m going to have to cut all my hair off!” Bear in mind that my hair reached below my shoulder blades and I still had 2 boxes of relaxer in the house, so I knew that if I didn’t cut it I would most likely relax my hair again. But something told me, It’s a new year, a new decade no less, ‘Now’s the time’. So I called my sister –in-law, as she had natural hair, and told her I wanted to go natural and was struggling with the decision. I told her my fears and of course she said “Just do it” “you have 4 months worth of regrowth so you won’t be bald”. So I got out of bed (It was 1st thing in the morning, well late morning, last night was New Years eve afterall), called my husband upstairs, went to the bathroom, told him the plan and started cutting. Thinking about it now I can still remember the trauma of all that hair in my hands turning into a pile in the bathtub and ending up in the dustbin aaarrgghh…

I just never saw the beauty in my hair…

I never really thought of my hair as beautiful or something to treasure or to be proud of. I grew up with aunties who had natural hair, though that never triggered anything in me. But, in the past few years seeing people like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Issa Rae and Lupita Nyongo, to name but a few, rocking their 4b and 4c hair out loud and proud I started to think “Ok I’ve had my hair relaxed since I was a kid, don’t you think it’s time to go back?” These ladies helped me see how beautiful my hair is, how beautiful afro hair is and how it was something to be proud of. Thank you so much to all the ladies out there with natural hair that have helped me realise this. Don’t get me wrong I was never ashamed of my hair I just never saw the beauty in it, how could I when I didn’t even remember it.

Another problem I had was I never had the time, or to be more exact the patience, to sit and get my “hair did” I could never sit down to get a full head of weave…never, that was virtually impossible for me to even consider. I would literally do 3 tracks 4 tracks max. Because my hair was long and relaxed I could get away with that. As for braids, I love box braids I think they look great and are very versatile but thinking about sitting down to get them done… Oh my G! I did braids with my relaxed hair but it was basically pick and drop. If you don’t know what that is it’s when you start the braid, braid about 2cm, tie it off, drop it and move on to the next. The braids were long and it took next to no time to finish and again because my hair was relaxed I could get away with it.

I was always in and out of the salon. I never spent more than an hour and 45mins in the salon chair. With that said you can imagine that just added to the turmoil I went through when deciding to go natural and taking the drastic step to cut off all my hair to make sure I did. I’m going to have to spend a lot more time in that salon chair, but on the other hand I’ll have the incentive to go ahead and do those box braids, do those numerous styles I’ve seen that I couldn’t have done with my relaxed hair. The salon chair will have to become my new best friend if I want braids or if I want to style my hair (eventually though I plan on learning to style my hair myself). But that’s a ways off as right now I’m really concentrating on finding the right products for my hair.

Well that’s my story of how and why I decided to go natural. I know we all take different paths and have different stories. Join me and share your stories in the comments section…

Instagram: @vrai_locs

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