You know it’s funny sometimes things happen to you for reasons you don’t expect and when you don’t see them coming. In my case I’m talking about my latest achievement on my journey to confidence. What I’m about to discuss for some people would seem like a small thing but if you stick with me for a few minutes I’ll do my best to explain. A few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and go natural. What do I mean by go natural? I’m speaking specifically about my hair. Most women know what it is to wear their natural hair and even what it is to treat and style it. I really had never had the chance to do so until just over a month ago. Let me take you back a bit…
Me as a tot with my dreads
When I was a child my hair was in dreadlocks until I was about 14-15 years old. Both my mother and father have dreadlocks and my mum later told me it was never her intention to lock my hair but as a child I simply would not let her style it without bringing my house into a state of chaos as I screamed in protest while she worked to style my hair. Of course my hair was a lot softer as a child but I have always had extremely thick and tight hair. Growing up I never really thought much about my hair I would wash it weekly and then sit down to let my mother twist my stray hairs into my locks. It was when I got into secondary school I realised that I wanted to change my hair and try new styles but that would mean doing the dreaded chop and cutting it all off. As an over weight teenager who already had a lot of attention from bullies and other people in the class the last thing I wanted to was draw more attention to myself by having a bald head, so I spoke to my mum about the situation and it was decided that I would let my hair grow out somewhat and then cut it and work with braids until I could get it to a decent length.
In My late teens with braided extensions
I started speaking to some of my cousins to see what things they did to maintain and style their hair and I soon realised that I would have some different challenges to them when it came to maintaining my own hair. My hair is thicker than that of most people’s and some would describe the texture as nappy. To mixed raced and black people it’s been deemed over the years a really negative thing to have nappy hair. What the term means is that you have really dry, coarse and tight afro like hair. For people of other ethnicities this doesn’t seem to even be something they think about and in truth most of my friends who are of other backgrounds have been pushing for me to wear my natural hair out for years! The problem with doing this was, well me…
Me with my hair relaxed, wearing some weave tracks in my hair
The truth is that for decades the world has been shown one very small standard of beauty which leans towards the looks and features that Caucasian, European women have. Thinner bodies with slightly smaller curves and beautiful long, shiny and straight hair. Already women of colour were set a precedent that we simply could not live by and as a result we have seen women bleaching their skin for years, dressing and wearing clothes that may not have been their preferred style and of course the changing and experimentation with our hair. For years women like myself played around with relaxing our hair which basically means to paint a chemical paste into our hair that burns it straight. I did this for years and to be honest I always have and will always hate the process. It’s extremely painful and could often times leave you with scabs or scars on your scalp. The hair can become brittle and damaged and as a result can take forever and a day to grow! The thing is I come from a mixed race family and have a host of friends from all over the world so I personally don’t feel I have carried all of the baggage that some other coloured women carry when it comes to having confidence in their looks. In my case the problem was initially my weight and then of course my hair.
Wearing a relaxer with a clip in extension
I finally reached a point where I would find ways to achieve the hair looks I liked without having to put my hair and scalp through so much physical trauma. I started to experiment with weaves, clips ins and eventually wigs. The truth is though while I like how I looked with these styles they are extremely expensive to do. It’s no wonder the hair industry is such a wealthy business and from what I have seen over the years it’s women of colour who have been the largest consumers of synthetic and human hair supplies and extensions. Recently we have seen a rise with women of all races buying into these products which I can only assume is a result of celebrity pressure that we all face, through social media and reality TV shows. The past 10-20 years has seen women doing anything and everything to enhance the beauty we already carry with wearing new styles of makeup such as nail extensions, false eye lashes, fillers and injectables and of course additional hair pieces. I recently hit a financial snag and was simply unable to find the few hundred pounds required to do something about my hair! I thought about relaxing my hair again which I hadn’t done for nearly 2 years and thought back to the horrible experiences of my past. The average woman can use about half tub of relaxer to work on the 2-3 inches of regrowth she would need to burn her hair straight. In my case I would need up to 2 tubs for the same amount of hair growth due to how thick and coarse my hair is! I could only imagine how much of the stuff I would need to do what’s known as a virgin relaxer and the thought of sitting for an hour with my scalp on fire was not an option!
Wearing a wig
A mix between natural and enhanced. I wear my hair in corn row braids and a clip in extension
My friend Venice had taken the time out to pretty much give me the push I needed to just work with what god gave me and wear my own hair out. It had been years since I had worn just my natural hair out, the last time was when I had had dreadlocks! Now in my late twenties the prospect was rather daunting for me and I suddenly felt my self confidence being questioned. Venice washed and conditioned my hair (with some products I’ll later be reviewing on the blog), showed me some techniques to condition my hair to help with growth and style. She had been doing the same thing to her daughter’s who’s hair is like mine. I have to say after taking out my large twists and seeing my huge bouncy curls I was taken aback for about 5 minutes and then I suddenly thought wow it’s me, all me! Even my hair has a large personality of it’s own and I should embrace this! I took some pictures with Hanna, put them on Facebook and the amount of compliments I received from my friends and loved ones shocked me! I was given a new source of confidence and I am slowly falling in love with my own hair for the first time in my life!
Like I said before I know this seems like a small fate to some but I had no idea why so many women were throwing away the wigs and weaves and going bare with their own hair. This was a movement I hadn’t taken the time to look into or be a part of. I simply ended up taking note when I saw other friends doing the same and it was only because of my financial situation and some kind words from some friends that I thought oh what the hell let’s give it a go! I say it all the time about fashion and wearing what makes you feel confident, we need to play around with our look more to see what works for us. I now say the same about your hair and I encourage all women out there with quote on quote “nappy” or course hair to give this a go! I’m so happy I did!
Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!