I recently celebrated 1 year of being natural. Being natural you may ask? Yes, wearing my hair as it grows out of my scalp without any chemical processes.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have noticed that there is a so called ‘Natural Hair Movement’ and it seems like this movement is sweeping across the the globe. Black women all over the world for many reasons are deciding to embrace their natural hair. And this is a good thing.
What I am going to share here is a review of some of my experience, why I chose to wear my hair natural and what I am learning on this journey.
My decision to go natural or as some say go back to natural, was for health reasons. You see, I had this conversation with myself. I said that I eat well, I exercise, I drink lots of water and I considered that I take care of myself. However, a number of articles were coming to my attention that sited the link between hair relaxers and a number of health conditions, such as cancers and fibroids. I also knew that the relaxers affected me physically every time I had one. But I was so used to having my hair straight all these years and I loved wearing my hair in my bob. So the conversation to go natural or not go to natural went on for some time.
However, once I had made the decision there was no stopping me. I had my last relaxer in October 2013 and the journey began.
During my transition and up to this day, YouTube has been my best friend. I have spent hours and hours watching videos on how to transition from relaxed hair to natural and how to care and style my natural hair. Although I have been natural before (during the 1990’s) I have spent most of my adult life with processed hair.
What started off as a decision to stop using chemicals on my hair for health reasons, then became a fundamental step in my continual road to self-discovery and self-love. And it was not always easy. There were times I really did not like how my hair looked and felt very self-conscious about it.
The following are some of the things I have encountered on my natural hair journey:
- I have been stared at.
- I have been laughed at in the street.
- Had comments like: Thought you were going to the hairdresser today (I had just come back from the hairdressers and was wearing my hair in an afro).
- I have felt on many occasions I had to justify why I wear my hair natural.
- Have been asked, What are you going to do with your hair?
- Aren’t you going to straighten your hair?
- Why aren’t you going to wear your hair in braids or wear a weave?
- I have had people come up to me and proceed to put their hands in my hair without even asking my permission to do so.
- Been told by other black women I wish I was brave like you to go natural.
- Sonia, you mean you are going to wear your hair just how it comes out of your head?
Can you imagine how I felt? It’s almost like I had to grow a thick skin just to be who I am.
I am reading more and more about black women who are facing discrimination in their place of work, within their communities and their social environments due to wearing their hair natural. The Natural Hair Empowerment March took place recently in Brazil, which has the highest population of Africans outside of Africa. The march was in response to the increasing discrimination that women are facing for wearing their hair natural. Just the other week Maria Borges made the headlines and sent social media in a frenzy as she became the first model to walk the Victoria’s Secret Runway with natural hair. Yes we are in 2015…..It is so sad that we are not accepted for who we are and that for years we have been wearing our hair in every other way other than natural.
On the flip side, I have also had lots of support and encouragement. And I have been told that I have also inspired others to ‘go natural’ too.
I would not say that I would never wear a straight weave. My hair is so versatile in its natural form. I love my fro. And I can wear it straight (without chemicals) if I want to and I am sure I will. However, I feel there is a difference of never wearing your hair natural if you feel it is not good enough or you are ashamed of it.
There is a political, spiritual, cultural and emotional message that is being made when we wear our hair in it’s natural state. I have learned acceptance to be who I am – I look in the mirror at my kinky, my curly and my coily strands and love them. I have learned that everybody’s natural hair is different and all is beautiful. But also I have learned to accept that my hair may not style in the way I have seen it in a hair tutorial and that is OK. It really is OK. This journey has made me stronger as an individual. I always had a part of me that did not care too much about what people thought of me, but I tell you I have learnt so much about facing opinions and criticism from others during this journey. And for that I am grateful…..
Until next time.
Award winning/Life Coach/Author/Blogger/Speaker/Radio Presenter
Sonia supports women to get unstuck, jumpstart their lives and get their sassy back so that they can live the life of their desires.
Passionate about supporting women to live their best lives, Sonia’s is often invited to speak and contribute on a number of radio shows, speaking platforms and articles.
A housing professional, wife, mother of 4 and grandmother, Sonia believes that sometimes the simplest mind-set and lifestyle changes have the biggest impact on living a balanced and happy life.
Sonia offers life coaching tools, wellbeing tips and inspiration on her lifestyle blog.