going natural: a hair story

~by Sunshine A.

That was me with the last weave and relaxed "do" that I ever got. It was the summer of 2008 and you couldn't tell me nothing! I was happy with my weave. Not too thrilled with the price tag though. That one cost me a whopping $400 for the hair (had to be Remy) and the application (full sew in with a little out at the top to achieve that natural look). I can say that I was truly addicted to weaves.

I was smack dab in the middle of my Beyonce phase where I truly thought we were friends. I was in love with her. Her hair, her wardrobe, EVERYTHING! B was my pimp, my pastor, my dealer... whatever she was selling I was buying, right down to her "freakum dresses"!

Underneath the weave was some pretty damaged hair. I had gone from the full thick upper middle back length hair of my youth, hair which my mother was against perming (but not pressing) to hair that was above my chin and was honestly an after thought. I never really thought too much about my hair, only that I didn't really like it.

Let me take that back, I liked my hair, dare say I loved it at one point. I wanted to be natural at an early age, but family and friends shamed me to the point where I started looking at my hair for what it wasn't instead of what it was. I remember at one point (once it became clear in my mind that only straight hair would do) I actually hated my hair. I would wish that it could just grow out of my scalp straighter so I could blend it into my weaves better and then no one would know the weave wasn't real. I wanted so badly to make others believe and believe myself that I had "good" long hair like all the women I saw on magazine covers. I wanted to achieve the same "looks" they were pulling off.

I bought the crap hook line and sinker. I believed that my hair needed to be long and straight in order for me to look good. I believed I needed to dress a certain way to be glamorous. I believed that my natural texture of hair should always be kept in hiding either under a half wig (like in the shot in the leopard dress) or under a weave or with the help of chemicals and flat irons.

I was living in Atlanta when I started to reevaluate things. Never before in my life had I seen so many black women wearing lace front wigs, false eye lashes and MAC makeup as I did in Atlanta. I started to feel like I was in an army of fake barbie dolls and started to feel that there was nothing unique about me. I felt like based on my appearance I was just one of those girls in Atlanta trying to star in a video. It seemed like we were all fronting, trying very hard to be something that we weren't. I started to detest the whole idea that someone (other than myself) created this image of beauty and was selling it by the case load to women like me.

It was then that I decided I wanted a change in my life. I wanted to decide what was beautiful for me. I wanted to stop relying on this "Bourgeois" mentality I had so readily soaked up and find out who I really was beneath it all. So first I took out the weave. But there was still relaxer on my hair, and I wanted to shed it all! So about a week after I took out the weave, I woke up early on that Saturday and I drove around until I found an open barbershop. I walked in and asked the barber to cut it all off like a man's hair cut.

Tears streamed down my face as I heard the buzz of the clippers approaching my head. I was crying because I was letting go of an identity I had relied on for so long. I was afraid. What if I didn't like what was underneath it all. What if I didn't like "ME"?

Right before the clippers actually touched my head she asked "Are you sure?" and at that moment, I thought, "What if there is something on the other side of this that is wonderful? What if I am one hair cut away from something truly magnificent and I'm scared to get there? "What if this turns out to be the best decision ever?

And that is when I answered firmly "YES! Cut it!"

It truly was a wonderful experience. I looked at the mirror after she was finished and I can't say that it was love at first sight, but I felt like I was seeing "MYSELF" for the first time.

It was like "This is me! Take it or leave it!"

With the haircut came an attitude that I could do anything! I mean, if I could face the world with no hair, there was nothing I couldn't do. I started to feel more like myself. With each day I started to like the haircut more and more and I started to like me more and more. It felt good to wake up in the morning and not go through the long process of "dealing" with my hair. It felt good to walk down the street and know that when people saw me, they were seeing ME.

Unlike a lot of of other stories about going natural I have read, I didn't really think about going natural in the sense of my hair alone, but more so going natural in the sense of becoming more myself than I ever could be with fake hair and a purchased persona.

According to the dictionary Natural means (among other definitions):

2 a: being in accordance with or determined by nature
b: marked by easy simplicity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or constraint
So when I think of natural hair and natural anything I think of these things and this is what I strive for. To be myself and to be free.
So that's it! My story. What's yours? Is your natural journey strictly hair is it something more? What does being natural mean to you?


Ty,  August 16, 2009 at 5:17 AM  

AHHHHHH!Wow! this is just what I needed! I have gone through hte exact same thing and I am at the point you were when you decided to see a barber..I am so afraid to do this but I am tired of the money spending and the hastle of weave and perms. I am going to do it and I am no longer afraid! If there was some way I could keep in touch and tell you my results I would! Thank you for sharing your story it relly helped me out =)

LaTrina December 4, 2009 at 6:51 PM  

Thank you so much for posting this. This really was just further confirmation of what I was thinking. Year after year, many of us live our lives according to what other people set as standards for us to live by. We lose our true identities, in hopes of acquiring one that others will find acceptable. Again, thank you. I definitely needed this.

I loved the picture with the tattoo and little curls! Go girl!

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