Thought For The Day:
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”
Question For The Day:
Is your natural beauty intimidating?
Today’s throwback was inspired by a recent make over I underwent in preparation for a branding photo shoot. Though I generally rock natural hair and nothing more than 99 cent lipstick, your girl went all out and got a wig made and paid someone to give me a full face beat!
Baaabaay!!! When I tell you I didnt even recognize myself, I ain’t lying! I was is the mirror like, “what up boo, what your name is?” Lol! My husband was running around catering to me like Samuel Jackson’s character in Django and I was loving every minute of it!!! But then, the make up and lashes had to come off and the wig went back on it’s white styrofoam mommy’s head and I had to go back to being just regular old CC.
All of this took me back to one of my most vulnerable beauty moments back in 2015, which is when I decided to end my “transition” to natural hair and just go full on Wakanda and do the big chop. Allow me to take you back to that time which in turn will help me remember exactly why regular old CC is still plenty.
For those of you who have read me before, you know that some time ago I told you about my decision to begin transitioning to natural hair. Because I’m Nappy! Well, the “transition” phase turned out to be a little shorter than I expected. Over the summer, I did what many women do and braided my hair. The tradition of Black women twisting, plaiting, or cornrowing their hair over the summer to maximize our versatility and waterproof our kinks, has gone back generations. It’s a pretty easy solution to ensure our naps don’t stage a rebellion poolside or upstage us at the beach. It usually works well for me, but because I have been growing my hair out for so long, most of my mane was natural but the ends were still permed. It would’ve been all good if I hadn’t made the mistake of leaving my braids in way past their recommended shelf life and then not properly detangling once I took them down. The thought of picking through the long, matted twists my braids had left in their wake was daunting. It seemed reasonable at the time to just keep putting the job off for ‘one more day.’ One more day turned into weeks, and I let my mangled tresses have free reign.
Instead of enlisting the help of some hair products, I chose to ignore my disrespectful hair “entanglements” and just kept pinning them back into a neat French roll so no one would be the wiser. It wasn’t until I caught myself literally trying to rip my hair apart in an effort to style it, that I snapped out of denial. It was indeed time to finally take a stab at trying to properly comb through my hair. Chile…. if my hair could talk, it would have cussed me out and reported me to Hair Protective Services for neglect and threatening abuse with a comb! I was rocking an Angela Davis natural at the roots and Lisa Bonet dreads at the ends. It was clear that I was in too deep and had to consult a professional.
Now, as I waited for my scheduled hair appointment, I’m not going to lie, the relaxer was calling me back home. I could envision myself as a dry-mouthed Pookie from New Jack City scratching my head talkin’ about, “It be calling me man!” My addiction to the “creamy crack” was triggered every time I looked at the horror show atop my head. I had Sister Souljah in one ear, telling me to keep up the fight and continue on the natural hair journey. She wanted me to embrace my kinks without apology and think about the thick, strong waves of my youth. She reminded me of my thinning edges and weak strands that years of perming had left behind. Then I had the Dark and Lovely representative in the other ear questioning my resolve to buck the system. She knew I had never really been a hair person and that my skills were limited even with straight hair. Who was I kidding?” she’d ask, as she reminded me that I had three kids and a husband with two jobs. You know you don’t have time to dedicate four hours to washing your hair and another four to combing and twisting it. You know how many other errands you can run in that kind of time? She knew I wasn’t a skilled braider who could style natural hair like the women in the magazines. She nearly convinced me that a relaxer relapse was well justified and I should just put all this natural hair tomfoolery to bed. Dark and Lovely won most of the arguments in my head, and as my hair appointment approached, I had all but decided to just cut off the dreaded parts of my hair, relax it and go back to a soft, swinging bob that would be easy to maintain. Not to mention, it might restore my confidence and make me feel cute again, which had been a struggle since I’ve attempted to go natural. Sure, I felt guilty especially after posting all my transition progress on Fakebook (I mean Facebook), but hey, “I tried” is what I told myself.
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to a relaxer. I had told the stylist that I wanted to cut and relax my hair, but she informed me that I would need to detangle it before I could relax it because trying to perm it in it’s current state would never work. She then proceeded to tell me that I had a beautiful curl pattern and that I was almost there with my transition. She told me that the worst parts of my hair were the permed ends and that if I would just let them go, I would see how pretty my hair actually was. But, if I wanted a perm, I would need to wait. The thought of living with the debacle between my temples for even one more day was just too much to take. I began to think about all the months I’ve been resisting relaxers successfully and all the lessons I’d already learned about self acceptance. I remembered the pride I felt in myself when I initially made the decision to go natural and how there was something quite empowering about doing what makes one uncomfortable. I thought about my daughter who told me on a couple of my insecure days that if I was going to be natural, I had to rock it! I thought about all the people I work with as a social worker and how I encourage them to love and accept themselves even when others don’t. I also thought about what the stylist told me, which was that I was almost there if I could just let go of the most damaged and unhealthy parts of my hair. That statement was profound on so many levels. How much better would our lives be if we could let go of everything damaged or unhealthy that we hold close?
Maybe the natural beauty I’m searching for can only be seen if I stop hiding in the fact that I’m “transitioning” and just let go and do it. So, in an instant I told her to cut it. Naturalistas everywhere call this “the Big Chop.” It’s when you remove everything that has been chemically processed and are left with nothing but what is texturally organic. I asked her to leave only the hair that was natural and healthy, and she did. So, I went into the salon in hopes of coming out relaxed, comfortable and safe once again, but came out nappy and vulnerable. Yet despite this, there was something liberating about my impulsivity. I had never seen myself in a full-on afro before and I’m not going to lie, it was a shock to the system. However, as strange as I felt, I also felt free. It was beyond just wearing a new hairstyle, because it wasn’t really a style at all. It was me.
So this is the second week of me being totally natural. It took me awhile to come to grips with it, but the other part of the challenge is dealing with how others will receive it. Well, my husband liked it which was good. He says it looks “fresh” and has noticed that I seem happier for some reason. Now, going to work was a little different. It wasn’t like anyone insulted me or anything, but when you make that drastic of a change and absolutely no one comments, you can pretty much guess they’re not feeling it. Trying to make small talk with someone who is obviously trying to act like an angry afro isn’t staring them down daring them to comment is, how should I say? AKWARD! Even my clients were unusually quiet during group therapy. My hair might have triggered their anxiety. There’s something about an afro that just screams tension. (lol) I expected all of this though. Natural black hair has never been considered conventionally beautiful and embracing it is a social and political statement in and of itself. It requires an ability to self-evaluate and define beauty for oneself. True enough, this is hard to do but just making an effort to do so has given me a renewed since of hope. It’s like a challenge that I finally feel up for. And a challenge it is.
I have never had to sort through so many butters, puddings, custards, souffles, milks, oils, greases, gels, yogurts, creams, and vinegar tonics in my life! Sometimes I don’t know if I’m about to wash my hair or bake a cake. It seems all I do is figure out what combination of goop I can apply to my hair that will give it the most ‘act right’ the next day. My hair is truly like a rendition of Alex Haley’s Roots. I’m looking at my naps like, You’re name is Toby! My hair is staring back at me in the mirror with a single drop of oil falling like a dignified tear proclaiming, Kunta Kinte! (LMBO) I’m serious though, me and this hair have a wrestling match every morning, but when I finally get it pinned down, I feel victorious. Each day that I wear this afro with pride, I am becoming more of the woman I was called to be. I’m not ashamed. I’m not hiding. I’m not afraid. I’m not bothered by the disapproval of others. I’m not judging myself by anyone else’s standards. I’m standing in my truth and deciding for myself what is beautiful. And I am beautiful. I always knew this hair journey was about far more than hair. It’s a powerful demonstration of spiritual awakening. When God was calling Moses to lead the Israelites out of bondage, Moses wanted to know who he was supposed to say sent him:
“I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you,” replied the Lord.”
I can’t help but know that God is in any process of self-discovery and acceptance. When I look in the mirror and feel self-conscious, I have to remember that like the God I serve, I am who I am. Not appreciating my reflection is bondage that I no longer want any part of. I may have been addicted to the creamy crack at one point, but I’m riding the waves of recovery today. If you’re being called out of bondage and desire freedom, maybe your hair is a good place to start. Get your beauty supplies up ladies. We’re taking it to the next level so get ready, set, fro!