A Story of Transition: How Growing My Natural Hair Out Helped Me Grow

April 4, 2012  |  

Last year, I was home for spring break, like I am now, and was in desperate need of a haircut and touch up.  My hair was at that weird short and long phase when it was growing back and didn’t know how to act. My mom wanted me to look nice for Easter, so I went to get my last real haircut. It’s very hard to find a barber where I live that can cut black hair, let alone black women’s hair adequately. But my barber was a nice guy, and great at his job. His name was Marcus, and he would charge reasonable prices as well as provide a wealth of laughs. I had only been going to him for a few months, but I was happy I finally found a place that was close to home and where people knew what they were doing. For the first time, thanks to his help, I was really learning how to style my hair. That Saturday before Easter was the last time I would get my hair cut by Marcus. He was tragically killed that evening at a club when he was robbed for his jewelry. When I found out the next day, I couldn’t believe he was gone. Like I stated earlier, my transitioning into natural hair is a pretty sad story.

Now that I was without a barber, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my hair. I had been talking about going natural for awhile now, and I even tried back in high school before I decided to go short. But at that moment, for some reason, I just decided to stop everything altogether. No more cutting and no more perms. I was finally going to let my hair do its own thing.

My mom had previously gone natural, but had to go back to relaxers because of her job. She gave me all these products she was using, including Miss Jessie’s, Twisted Sister, Carol’s Daughter, Shea Moisture, and much more. As you can tell, my mom was a product junkie (she’s going to be mad that I called her that). Once I was out of school for the year, all summer long I played around with my hair and these products. Since I was transitioning from a short haircut, I figured I would just let it grow out instead of chopping it off, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. Therefore, Tumblr, YouTube, and hair blogs became my best friends. I just wanted to have healthy hair.

Going natural hair has taught me a lot about my own hair and how to care for it. I’m 21 years old and this is the first time I’ve actually cared for my hair on my own. Now that it has been a year since I decided to grow my hair out, I can’t wait to cut off the perm that’s left on my ends and become fully natural. However, looking for a natural hair salon in New York that doesn’t charge an arm and a leg is another hurdle. Like I said before, I’m in college…

But this journey has also inspired me in my studies. My college requires all seniors to complete a senior project or thesis of sorts. As a journalism student, we have the option to do a 30-minute documentary.  With the support of my entire department, I will be doing my senior project on hair, particularly on the history of the struggles for women of color with their hair.

We all say hair is just hair, but I would say that having a fro has made me a political statement amongst my family, friends, and peers, and I’m cool with that. Honestly, my hair has been many different styles, but I believe this is the most beautiful I’ve ever been. I never felt more comfortable in my own skin as I do now. I can’t tell every black woman or woman of color they have to embrace their natural hair, because their journeys are not mine. But I’m glad I did.

Here’s to a full year of not relapsing and many more years to come!

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