The subject of afro hair tends to be a very touchy one. Black women have been often, and for a long while, disparaged for the texture and growth pattern of our hair. Often Leading to the lack of ‘Black Hair Pride’, love and acceptance of ourselves and our hair. From way back in the 17th Century hair has been part of the tools used to belittle and ridicule women of colour.
Enter the 20th century and many women decided to straighten their hair in order to adapt to the western perception of beauty. This tradition has carried on knowingly or unknowingly through many generations, bringing us to the 21st century where we started to remember that our hair is beautiful and so are we.
I am of African descent and my mum had relaxed hair. From her pictures which tell her hair story I noticed that she started relaxing her hair after she arrived in the UK. This is probably true of many women around the globe.
At some point it became so normal to straighten and relax our hair. You didn't even have to think about “it… oh my child cries when I’m braiding her hair, ok let’s relax it”. So there are multitudes of women including myself who never got to experience or understand their natural hair. Throughout my teens and early 20’s I had no respect for my hair. My hair was relaxed and the thought never crossed my mind to go natural, I was so used to relaxing my hair regularly. That was ‘my’ normal.
By the time I reached my 30’s I started to consider going natural. But it wasn't until the 1st of January 2020 that I took the leap and went for ‘the big chop’. It was so liberating. My hair was long and I thought I would miss it, but 4 months later I am more excited than ever about carrying my natural locs. It makes me think about a comment that my gran made when she heard the news that I was now natural, she said “... Now when you pour water on it, you know you've poured water on it…” I didn't know what that meant, but my aunt was on hand to explain. Apparently it means I’m free from the restraints of straightened hair. It truly is freeing, liberating. It’s hard to describe or embody the totality of the emotions it inspires in a sentence much less a word.
That being said, many people still cover up their hair with wigs and relaxers and that’s perfectly fine. We all have reasons for the choices we make and shouldn't have to answer to anyone for our personal decisions, #Saynotohairshaming. I’m just speaking on my personal journey.
Ok, so now I’m natural. What’s the next step? ‘Finding the right hair care routine for you and your hair’.
Knowledge is ‘truly’ power. There are so many avenues to help you discover what's best for your hair. My go to is to ask for recommendations from people I know who have natural hair. I also do some research online with reputable online publications and blogs. After all you don’t know where you’ll find that golden nugget of information that will transform your hair woes to hair wows. A few months ago I had never heard of hygral fatigue and now I know how to avoid it. Which is good because, since I went natural, I usually like to air dry my hair (with product in it) without using any form of pre shampoo treatment. So now I know, coconut oil before or towel dry after. ( find out more about ‘Finding the right hair care routine for you and your hair’).