It’s my own fault for being old school and liking Notepad! I had this post all typed up and lost it. So, let’s try this one more time and see if I have another afternoon to spare.
As a relaxed writer on a natural hair blog, it’s quite clear that there appears a semblance of a conflict of interest. Doing research on the internet on natural hair and good hair care and styling practices, I have found myself often feeling ostracized and an outsider, an outcast looking in. Many times, even felt like an ignorant fool because I have relaxed hair. Not picking on any one blog but the general consensus with this seemingly new natural movement is that to be relaxed is to be naive and cave into the white man’s definition of beauty, to be insecure, and to be disconnected from one’s true self and addicted to the “creamy crack.” I’m not saying that as individuals we do not in some way experience all these feelings as a result of our circumstances and life in general. That is a whole different issue. However, what particularly pains me is that we have found yet another way to create cleavages amongst ourselves and create new haves and have-nots, new better-thans and less-thans, naturals and non-naturals (the latter a word I have grown to strongly detest). As a black African…. correction, as a living breathing person, this disappoints me.
As such the first point that I would like to get across is that we all are beautiful. Black, white, in between or not all. Curly, straight, kinky, bald, and nappy! Everybody is beautiful. Now I am not attempting to have a double rainbow moment here, but I think that it is important to recognize that no matter how one chooses to wear their hair, they are still beautiful. And those that choose not to wear any hair at all, are still very beautiful. Perhaps things have been different for me. Perhaps I have seen the world differently, but I grew up in Nigeria and in Zambia with an equal appreciation for curly, kinky and straight hair. A lot of my friends from childhood and even now in adulthood, have beautiful natural hair and I love how it looks on them. Others have permed hair and I still think that it looks lovely and they look beautiful. To me, it’s all beautiful. I have had natural hair probably about half my life (and no I’m not doling out my age!) and been relaxed the other half. Regardless of whether my hair was relaxed or natural, short or long, my father has always told me how beautiful my hair is and that has always stayed with me.
I have styled my own hair and that of others since before I could remember. I had black and white dolls with all sorts of hair, straight, woolly, you name it, I had it or at least could have it. I remember at the age of 7, slathering vaseline on my straight-haired barbie dolls, before putting in itty-bitty twists/braids and then dunking the doll head first into a pot of boiling water for 10-15 mins. How I never got in trouble for this is beyond me- I’m guessing I probably blackmailed my cousins into keeping it from my mother. After letting the hair air dry for a day or two, I’d take out the twists/braids and my kinky-curly style would last a week if I was lucky or a day if I did a rush job.
I choose to relax my hair because it is for me, convenient. I am trying to do better by my hair and so I’m reducing it’s exposure to heat, and how often I relax my hair. I’ve also had to cut down how much I let other people into my hair and how often I get it styled out of my house. Presently I am on a deep auburn hair color bit (the first time that I have seriously coloured my hair) and I alternate the coloring and relaxing probably about every 2-months. Each chemical treatment is immediately followed by a reconstructive or kerastase treatment. The relaxer process is for me 45 mins long because I like to let my hair air dry with a leave-in conditioner after washing out the chemicals (no heat if I can help it!). I have had some bad experiences with relaxers, perhaps not as bad as others but pretty bad nonetheless and it has been the inexperience of others that have led to this. So I am most definitely a kitchen stylist. I do not relax my hair in beauty salons because it is for me much safer at home. Technically my sister does it. Getting my hair done and ready to go on a daily basis is often a 5-minute affair, sometimes it requires a 10-15 min investment the night before (flat twists etc). But in my busy life having my hair relaxed is just easier and I know this because I have tried the natural route (I have had 3 BCs!). Now I’m not trying to say this is right for others, far be it from me. What I know is that right now, this decision is right for me and I have no reason to feel ashamed for not having natural hair.
I wear my hair in a curling-rods induced curly afro from time to time, I’ll wear it straight, or wavy or curly or flipped (and I am doing all this more and more without heat– incl. a bonnet dryer) or throw a wig on it. I wear my hair up, down, to the side. I am not as adventurous as some but I like to switch things up. I look in the mirror and I see me, and I think I’m naturally beautiful, hair and all.
It is true that I am ignoring some of the other reasons for quitting relaxers. Yes perms can be quite dangerous, but so can everything in extreme. Be careful. I have seen some naturals take worse care of their hair than relaxed individuals. I have seen people with all types of hairs and hairstyles, including protective styles ruin their scalps and hair and the point of this blog is to help that change.
So as I end my sermon/opinion-editorial/rant, I find myself contemplating my role and contribution as a “relaxed” writer on a “natural” blog, I guess I have this much to say, ALL ARE BEAUTIFUL. Noting that I am likely to incite the wrath of the natural hair blogosphere, and perhaps even peeve some of my colleagues here on Zedhair, we all are naturally beautiful no matter what shape, color, style, or length the mass of keratin strands atop our heads look like. There is no such thing as a non-natural.