I made the decision to transition back to my natural hair texture about 6 years ago. I hadn’t worn it completely natural since about the age of 6. I’m sure there are many black women out there that understand this conundrum. Many of didn’t grow up embracing our afros and kinks and curls. We were made to believe that straight hair was a necessity for just getting through life. So please forgive us black girls as we take a moment to love on us.
Before that, my hair was relaxed, permed, pressed, damaged, and I had no idea how to style it.or I’d wear my hair in braids. It was easy, convenient, low maintenance, but time consuming to have it done. 8 hours for a hairstyle? That literally meant sacrificing a Saturday to get my hair done. I was tired of doing that, and as a new college graduate, didn’t really have the money for all that either.
I actually decided to go natural a bit accidentally (but definitely not regretfully). I was studying abroad in Thailand and had my hair in braids. I figured I’d wear the style for our entire 4 month stay. But, I got tired of the braids in the last few weeks. Fellow braid wearers, y’all know. They were getting frizzy, matted at the ends, heavy on your hair because it’s growing out. So I took them out, and thankfully there was another black girl on the trip who was able to braid my hair. Hi, Danielle!
And I really wore my night scarf in a village in northern Thailand.
And then I wondered why hadn’t I worn my hair like this all along. It felt liberating. It felt like I didn’t have to worry. It felt natural.
When I got back home to the States. I decided I would stop perming (relaxing) my hair, but kept it in braids to let my hair grow out.
Then, in 2011, after graduating college and living in my first apartment with my dear friend Nadia, I decided it was time to just go for it. Ditch the braids and let it all go. I didn’t go for a big chop, then. I just let my hair continue to transition and rocking an awful set of permed ends on top of my new curls.
Back then, my twist out game was brand new, an experiment in many products, but a lot of fun to try to figure out what worked for my curls. If you asked Nadia, she’d tell you about the many nights I sat up twisting it, trying some new goop, making some shit out of other shit. I think every natural has that experience of wanting to learn how to care for their newly pronounced mane. It’s a rite of passage, honestly.
Then I got better, I tried new styles, I wore accessories often, and I started to feel real comfortable, and in love with my crown.
But, as I started to get more tied up with work and other parts of life (aka boo thang aka The Man), I started to see my daily haircare not as something I enjoyed or did with the intention of caring for my hair. It became just part of the day that I wanted to rush. I had to twist and moisturize every night or I’d wake up with a lopsided afro. I’m laughing now as I type that, but please tell me it’s not true. (my hair is a mix of 4s, so it takes a lot of maintenance, especially since I loved to wear my hair out, or in what I call my signature “poof”.
Then pregnancy came along, which in hindsight did some pretty amazing things for my locks. While postpartum did some frightening ones. I suffer with Alopecia Areata, which is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your hair follicles. I have since high school and in college I had a really bad episode that took my eyelashes and parts of eyebrows. So when this same thing happened about 8 months after my son was born, I was prepared, mentally at least. I also visited a dermatologist to try to treat it, though now I’m hopeful for better results in my scalp using natural remedies.
So back to that crazy mid-postpartum crisis. I was losing hair, baby was pulling my hair, I was pulling my hair out (crawling babies will do that to you hehe) so I was discovering spots and thinning all the time. My hair would fall out in handfuls on wash day. And that nightly time commitment…yeah, I wasn’t so committed.
Motherhood is a beast. After feeling like I had already packed 2 days into 1, every single day, I had no desire to twist and moisturize every single night. And that continued on past the first year of my son’s life. He’s 14 months now, and this natural mama made a huge decision.
I shaved my head last week, and not regretfully. I took some courage, a lot of it, and the encouragement from my fiance, who along with a pep talk, busted out his clippers and literally said, “Let’s just do it right now”.
And RJ had the cutest reaction as he felt my head for the first time and giggled. He loved my curly kinks to the extent that he would fall asleep while holding my hair. So I expected a bit of shock from him. But in true form, he was encouraging in all the right ways.
And now, that same liberation I felt when I took those braids out in Thailand is back upon me. No more worrying about leaning on the wrong part of my head or risk a flat top. No more oily fingers from twisting my hair and not being able to eat ice cream while I do. No more wash day blues when baby wakes up in the middle of the deep condition. No more single strand knots that turn into a single strand decapitation. No more spending my hard earned coins on wonderfully smelling natural hair products (I’m here for those, though ✊🏾)
At least for now. Y’all, I love my natural curls. As hard headed and high maintenance as they were, I just love the thought of what can grow out of the top of my head.
But, this is a new journey, one that is giving me a much needed break. One that is allowing me new freedom and probably some new exciting hair styles along the way. One that’s letting me break the rules, not of society, but of myself. Doing something unexpected of myself opens up a new side of me to me. Ok, I’m getting too deep for this blog post.
Mamas, I’m interested in hearing if any of you have experience with alopecia, shaving your head, or finding balance with your natural hair and motherhood. Leave a comment, let’s chat!