At the age of 14, I caused my grandmother to go into a conniption fit when I did the unthinkable. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that little rebel in me decided that I did not want to have relaxed hair anymore, and I started to…wait for it…let my hair grow the way it came out of my head naturally.
From the way my grandmother reacted, you would think that going natural meant joining a Rastafarian commune to shack up with some natty dread, and pop out some equally natty great-grands (no disrespect meant to Rastafarians). After all, when she was growing up, there was a serious stigma attached to natural hair. No one even dreamed of sporting a natural do, if they wanted to progress in their career or social status.
Fastforward to 2012. I’ve been totally natural since 2007, and it has been a rollercoaster journey. At one point, I was so fed up of the constant hair maintenance battle that I went for a relaxer. I even sat in the hairdresser’s chair. But as she was prepping my hair, something started to tug inside of me. I just couldn’t do it.
Initially, I didn’t quite figure out what that nagging feeling was, but then I realised that I had fallen in love with my multi-textured hair, with its unpredictable, yet endearing moods. I reminisced about the sheer exhilaration of stepping out of the salon, after handing over the job of styling to the experts. These coiffeurs seemed to have magic fingers that could transform an unruly mess of tangles into the most stunning, traffic-blocking, head-turning looks.
As she was about to start mixing the chemicals, I told the hairdresser to stop. I was determined to (in the language of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn) “make it work”.
I had my first relaxer at age seven, so I had no idea about the range of possibilities natural hair could afford. For all my natural years, the rope twist was my de-facto style, and as much as I loved the look, I was bored. With newfound vigour, I ransacked YouTube and natural hair blogs, where I discovered a whole range of options.
The world of flat twists, twist outs, afro puffs, and canerowed upsweeps were unchartered territory. I was overwhelmed, but overjoyed with the choices, and I was determined to try any decent looking style at least once.
Now, I know some ladies are concerned about how the fellas will react to natural hair, and are reluctant to either stay or go natural, because they think that men won’t like it. Personally, I have never experienced guys not liking my natural look.
On the contrary, I have received many compliments from guys of varying races, nationalities, and ethnicities about my hair. When at home in the Caribbean, I’ll be walking along minding my own business, and hear at least one “psssst Princess”, or “psssst Empress” (titles reserved almost exclusively for women with natural hair), mixed in with the usual “smallie”, “darkie”, or “family”.
To me, it’s all about preference.
In the same way that some guys prefer slim women, while others prefer full-figured ladies, some prefer natural hair; others prefer relaxed hair. It’s simply a matter of finding someone who will appreciate you for you.
Most guys like a girl who is confident. How a woman perceives herself will often dictate on some level how a man perceives her. So just wear your hair the way that makes you feel happy, and chances are your guy will be happy with it too.
No matter how you choose to wear your hair, just keep it neat. No man I know wants to be walking with a woman who looks like an unkempt hot mess. Any kind of hair, natural or not, needs to be well groomed. So to say that natural hair is messy or unprofessional speaks more to the person upon whose head it sits rather than the hair itself. And men aside, shouldn’t you simply want to look good for yourself?
The lesson from this is for anyone male or female to be comfortable with who you are, and not to conform to what people think you should be. IMHO (in my humble opinion), if you love your hair natural, and someone else doesn’t like it, then that really is their problem – not yours. If you try to change yourself to suit someone else’s ideal of beauty, then you are not being true to yourself.
By the way, in case you were wondering how my grandma has been coping with my decision, much to my surprise and delight, she has come around. I’ve even gotten a couple rave reviews from her about my styles. While I’m not exactly sure if it’s because she actually likes them or whether it’s because she’s relieved that I didn’t run off with the Bobo dreads, I’ll let you be the judge of that one.
Anyone looking for ideas on how to style their natural hair can take a look at my Facebook album.
Image credit: theyeyodiaries.com