How I Became Confident to Wear My Hair Chemical-free and Kinky-Curly
I wish I could say that I was only inspired by women in the natural hair community to wear my hair in its natural state but truth is it was my husband who gave me the confidence to wear my natural hair to work. And since then, I haven't looked back.
I'd become chemical-free around 2008 because I strayed away from my long-time hair stylist Kira when I was living in DC and it was becoming cumbersome to travel 2 hours north to my hometown of Philadelphia each time I wanted to have my hair professionally done. So I sought out a new hair stylist in DC. At first, it was going really well and then I made the terrible mistake of having the stylist relax and color my hair. I believe she used permeant color instead of semi-permenant and a relaxer (chemical straightening process) at the same time. This is a major no-no because the two chemicals cause hair loss. And that it did. Within weeks, my hair had fallen out in chunks. So I took the plunge and cut it all off to start over.
Initially, I planned to treat and nurse my hair back to its original length by wearing protective styles. After I had achieved my desired length, I would return to relaxing my hair. But then something happened that I didn't expect. My hair grew back faster, healthier, and beautiful. I was not familiar with my natural curl pattern because my first relaxer was in 1994 (I was 9). So when I was headed back to Philadelphia for grad school and had access to Kira's talents once again, I decided I would "press it" (straightened it with a hot tool such as blow dryer, flat-iron and or a pressing comb ---shout out to Madame C.J Walker , inventor of the pressing comb!)
Eventually, the maintenance of that damaged my hair also so I cut it off and started over again. This time, I learned that too much heat didn't work for my hair texture. I decided to only straighten it occasionally.
By late 2013, I was married and living in London. One weekend I decided to remove my synthetic braid extensions. I left it for too late, and it was on a Sunday so everything shut early. I didn't own a blow dryer or flat iron. Nervous to wear my natural hair to the office the very next day, I started to panic searching the internet and texting my new London friends for a solution. My husband said, "I don't get what the problem is, why can't you just wash your hair and go to work." It was that simple. Maybe he was right, I thought. And so I did. I finally put all my YouTube natural hair tutorials to practice. I washed my hair, twisted it wet before bed, and went to work the next morning. I received so many compliments and the rest is history.
I wear my hair in its natural state and really have come to love it. Yes, I think it's become trendy for Black women to wear their natural textures and of course there's the politics behind Black hair. Initially, I wanted to avoid the natural hair stereotype simply because I studied environmental management and I'm a pescetarian who usually opts for a vegetarian/ vegan meal and now I also wear my hair in an Afro. In the words of India Arie, "I am not my hair. "
I enjoy the versatility of wearing my hair natural. I know how to manipulate it to make it appear longer, shorter, kinkier, curlier and so much more. My husband loves it and it's made me more confident in myself. To be clear, wearing my hair naturally doesn't mean that I won't wear the occasional weaves, braids, or other styles. Additionally, Black women who choose not to wear their hair naturally does not mean that they love themselves any less. Similarly, it doesn't make me a "sell-out" should I choose to wear my hair differently by adding extensions.
As a 30 something-year-old woman, I hope that one day when I have a daughter of my own, I can instill in her by example, that it is absolutely fine to live in a world, looking and loving the way you are, naturally.