Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Never Say Never!

I told myself for years that I would never, could never do it! And then I did it. I started growing out my relaxer.

It started out as just an experiment really. I kind of accidentally noticed that I was going for longer and longer periods past my previous 6 weeks without getting a touch-up. I would go 8-10 weeks and realize that my hair was still manageable. Then I'd go 12-14 weeks...and finally I asked myself, "Do I really need this? What would happen if I just kept going?"

I remember what my hair used to be like when I was a little girl--thick, healthy, long and full. And ever since I've been relaxed my hair has been different--brittle, temperamental, short and unwilling to grow. Even under the constant care of a stylist, it would grow but at a snail's pace. So I wondered, "What if I didn't get that touch up? Would my hair grow healthy and strong like it used to be? Would the texture be different—in a good way? Would it be manageable?"

And so I decided, "What the heck--I'll try it. If it gets too out of hand, I can just relax it, right?" At first I didn’t even tell anyone because I wasn’t sure if this would go well. But, it has been 8 months and I haven't looked back! I'm about halfway through my transition. My natural hair is growing rapidly and it is fuller and stronger than the relaxed hair at the ends. There’s not a huge amount of difference in the length yet because of continuous trimming, but it has definitely gotten much thicker. I can shampoo and blow dry and still get my hair soft and straight if I want to. During the summer months though, I've been wearing it curly--roller sets, twist outs and flat twist outs--and a whole new world of hair care ease has been revealed to me! In these styles, I don't have to worry about my roots being bushy while my ends are straight, I don't have to put a ton of heat on my hair, nor do I have to stand in the mirror for hours round-brushing and straightening. I can co-wash and set the night before and just pull my curls out in the morning and I'm out the door (no small feat for someone who takes as long to get ready in the morning as I do!).

Like I said, I'm about halfway through my transition so I still have a long way to go (my good friend keeps trying to encourage me to go for the BC, but I prefer heavy trims every 6-8 weeks to slowly cut the relaxer out). I also try to keep my hair moisturized and minimize the amount of heat I put on it--including blow dryers. One of my favorite moisturizing/low to no heat routines right now is to co-wash with Herbal Essences Totally Twisted conditioner, add Cantu leave-in from root to tip after towel blotting dry, scrunch the hair with Smooth n' Shine curl activating crème gel and then flat twist, sealing my ends with Qhemet's Amla & Olive Heavy Cream and rolling them. In the morning, I add a little Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Gloss and gently pull out my curls. This routine keeps my hair soft all day and keeps it from tangling or drying out.

I guess the most important thing to note is how this transition is affecting more than just how I style my hair. To start, I've stepped outside of my comfort zone to do something that not only have I never done before, but that I said I never WOULD do! I didn't feel that I was "earthy" enough to pull it off, and was worried that my hair would be too coarse and wild and ruin my polished look (and I have this weird hang up that I look like a boy with too short hair, but that’s another story for another day). Surprisingly (or not really) neither of these things have mattered! I'm more than happy with the texture of my hair and my self-esteem has not suffered--it has been boosted! I feel healthy inside and out and I feel free from defining myself by the cookie cutter standards that were issued to me by....who? Society? History? Other races? My own race? It doesn't even matter because I know whose standards I'm living by now--my own. And now that I’ve stepped over the imaginary line once, I’m free to keep doing it again and again and again because I know that there are amazing experiences outside of the box that I lived in for so long. I understand now that a little bit of discomfort for a little while can lead to a whole lot of peace down the line.

I’ve also discovered the joy of doing things without the expectation of any particular result. I’ve just let my hair grow and flourish however it likes and am just loving it and caring for it no matter what it decides to do. I’m not over-analyzing the length or the curl pattern or anything else—I’m just allowing myself to be pleasantly surprised at every little thing it does and I just smile at it in the mirror like a proud mama.

It’s amazing how the smallest day-to-day experiments can lead to the biggest life transitions. I’m super excited to see what my new hair and I will do together. Stay tuned.


Carlotta said...

Your hair looks pretty with the twist out. This Saturday will be 5 weeks since I put my last relaxer in, and I decided 4 weeks ago to just let it grow out. I have a 10yo that's transitioning, and a 5yo that's natural. In order to show them that our kinky hair is just as beautiful as the other types they're used to seeing, I have to have kinky hair as well. I've always wanted to be natural though, actually dreaded, since my 20's living back home in NY. My oldest is doing very well, but then again she never liked getting her hair permed anyway. She burned easily. It's trying to show my baby that her hair is beautiful the way it is. Anyway, I said all of this to say You go girl!! Rock your natural and enjoy the ride. I'm looking forward to the next imaginary line your going to be stepping over. Keep us up to date.

Peace Love and Pretty Things said...

Thank you Carlotta! You are so right--being an example is the ultimate way to teach our children to love and appreciate themselves. And perhaps allowing your girls to be natural now will save them just a little of the frustration that so many of us have gone through with trying to figure out how to love and care for our hair. I wish you the best of luck on your transitional journey. Please keep us posted on your progress as well :).

Post a Comment

RSS Feed Like us in Facebook follow me!