Natural me and Mr. Gorgeous - 2000
You know the saying "The Lord works in mysterious ways." For those of you not in the know - Sistahs have a 'thing about our hair. From girlhood 'til the golden years, most of us struggle with 'IT.' By that I mean trying to a comfortable spot for beauty-selves in a society/culture where straight, blonde and long hair is the predominant ideal of perfect hair. And while there are variations on that theme, those variations are not natural to Black hair. As with all women, our hair isn't hair, it's HAIR. There's all kinds of psychology bound up in our hair, body image, etc. Sistahs put chemicals in our hair, blazing heat and finish it off with a hot comb, curling irons, hot rollers, and on and on and on.
Well I'm sick of it, have been for awhile. And I've been seriously considering going back to my natural hair-state. I can't even figure out why I went back to processing my hair. Then I clicked on a comment that The First Lady left me on one of my posts. That led me to click on one of the blog she follows: AfroBella: All Shades of Beautiful (with a fantabulous title like that, how could I not?). Here's where that 'Lord working in mysterious ways' comes into play. It's time to make a change...
1 August 1997 - with my bridesmaids, the night before I got married
I didn't realize that I had a choice of how I wore/styled my hair until I got to college. Nor did I realize how powerful that realization of choice was going to be. I was the personal assistant to the head of Loyola's Black Studies Dept. (Dr. Ayana Karanja), and for the first time in my life I was surrounded by Sistahs - of every size and shape - all day everyday. As important (and much more momentous) I was exposed to the writings, scholarship and lectures of the most amazing Black women, who focused their formidable intellectual talents on the exploration of Black Women's experience (past and present). Anyway, my fellow university Sistahs and I all processed our hair at first. But after a few months of exposure to the fantabulous Dr. Karanja (who wore her hair in dredlocks), Dr. Cheryl Johnson-Odim (who wore a short natural 'fro) and all sorts of other amazing women - slowly, one by one, we all went natural. Some of us did the big chop (literally re-starting from scratch) and some of us transitioned (grew out our processed hair). I did the latter (I went cold turkey - NO chemicals or heat), surviving an entire year of crazy hair in the process. But how did I make it?
The first day, after I decided to go natural, I walked into Dr. Karanja's office with my 'new' natural look. Honey, it was a mess! But you know what Dr. K said to me when she first saw me? "Gorgeous, you're gorgeous. That's what you're supposed to look like. That's you and I love it!" My beloved mamma, who will process her hair until she leaves this earth, told me the same thing. Even though she knew it was a mess, even though it was something that she would never do. As always, my mother incredible encouraged and supported me. And Mr. Gorgeous loved it too. The two most important women in my life and the love of my life were behind me - there was no stopping me! I loved wearing my hair naturally. I felt powerful, unique and beautiful. Natural Black hair is like a fingerprint - absolutely, fabulously individual. No two heads of natural Sistah hair are the same.
Me and my newborn daughter Sage - 3 February 2003
I wore my hair natural for 10+ years, until June 2005. Now I remember why I changed. I had just given birth to my fourth child, less than a year after losing my third - a precious little boy named Deme. I wanted a change, a new start, and I let my hair dresser talk me into straightening my hair. It's been downhill from there - my hair, not my life. Still, I could not completely give up on natural - didn't want to:
Flirting with natural-hair, 2007
And again - Valentine's Day 2009
Well after 6 years of constant struggle with processed hair, I'm fed up - I hate it. I've got a new hairdresser, so maybe I won't have to do this alone this time - feeling my way in the dark. When I go for my weekly visit on Friday, I'm going to tell her I want to go natural again. I just hope that she can handle it/me. If not I'll have to go it alone - sigh. I'm not ready for the big chop, maybe I will be. All I know is that I want my Sistah-mane back. It's time for me to go 'home.' This is a momentous change for me. For my non Sistah Sisters, think of it like shaving your head and dying your hair purple - a total and complete change! I've got about 5 months 'til I'm next in Paris - light a candle that I'll have it in some semblance of fabulousity before then - gotta be fantabulous for Paris!
I'll keep you updated, it'll be an interesting adventure. Thank you 'The First Lady' and AfroBella for the inspiration just when I needed it most.
Vivire! Rire! Aimer!
Back in the 'natural' day(s)...