Relaxed or natural, I’ve always had big hair and I’ve always loved my hair either way. I remember my mom and aunts would gather around me as a little, little girl and say,”Do ya Tina Turner thang, Vicky.” I would shake out my hair and get my Proud Mary on and they would laugh and laugh. Best memories ever.
My relationship with my hair has been bitter sweet. I love sharing my natural journey and hearing about others as well. People choose to go back to natural for so many reasons. I’m always amazed to hear the stories. A single word that best describes why I went natural is curiosity.
I had been getting relaxers since I was 6 years old in the first grade. I had no clue what my natural hair was like beyond the photos I’d seen in Preschool, I had no personal experience with my hair. Long gorgeous, healthy are a few of the words that came to mind whenever I saw the photos. . .never bad or nappy. But my hair was too thick, at least that was my mother’s justification for resorting to the ever popular relaxer.
I was indifferent to relaxers. I didn’t love them, I didn’t hate them. I enjoyed going to the salon and sitting in the stylist chair listening to community gossip. Yes, I was young but I do recall lots of rumors, gossip, and laughter. I wasn’t into hair that much. Others were more into my hair than I was into my own hair. Even with relaxers I’d get compliments on how thick and pretty my hair was.
I’m sure I had many of the same issues others have reported like the smell and the burns of relaxers, but I suppose it was something I’d just accepted as normal. I had friends in high school who didn’t have relaxers and I even had one with locs. Today I find it odd that transitioning back to natural never crossed y mind before it did.
My journey to natural simply began as a desire to be different about a year before I actually thought to even go natural. My freshman year in college I cut my hair for the very first time to satisfy that desire to be different. My friends didn’t think it was a good idea. Long, thick hair is coveted in the black community and you should never cut it. Turned out it was very cute, I kept it for a while.
During my sophomore year, I met two sisters, one had traditional locks and the other wore a lose natural afro. College had heightened my awareness so much, seeing those sisters and the style and texture of their hair made me very curious about the true texture of my own hair. And this is when I made the decision to transition back to natural.
I transitioned back to natural in 2006 and if you can recall, at that time there was no YouTube, hair guru tutorials to guide me in my transition. I wore a lot of cornrow styles, box braids, and braid outs. Growth was slow and not having ever had to deal with my natural hair before, I expressed my frustration to my natural friend. Her response was to just cut all off. She advised that that is what she had done. My relaxed friends advised against it. I thought it was a great idea. As I mention, I’ve not really been all that attached to my hair. My thing was “It’s just hair; it’ll grow back.” I’ll never forget the day I cut my hair. I felt like I was going on a secret mission because no one wanted me to cut my hair, and I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. It was warm out that day yet I was in a bright yellow hoodie. It’s a wonder I didn’t get shot. I walked into great clips and asked the stylist to cut my hair to about two inches, even all over. She looked at me wide eyed and asked, all of it, Yes, I said all of it.
Remember this was just before what I have grown to refer to as the natural hair migration so this was something fairly uncommon.
Once my hair was cut, there were still some relaxed ends. My roommates were the first to see my new cut. They stared with gaping mouths touching my hair. I didn’t mind, I couldn’t believe I’d actually gone through with it myself. I was exited out my new journey but since I still had relaxed ends, I wasn’t sure what I would do with my hair. I finally settled on the style now known as the Bantu knot out. I wore my hair in this style for a while as I continued to transition and clip away my relaxed ends.
It was such an awesome journey. At the time, I was one of very few. Once my hair grew out really big around the summer of 2007, people would ask if it was all mine. I was very proud of my natural and it went like this until I decided to transition to locs. Little did I know that I would cut my hair twice, return to a relaxer, back to natural, motherhood, marriage, divorce, and six whole years would pass before I would began my sisterlock journey.