Where are you from and how is the natural scene there?
I am living temporarily in Boston but I’m from the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean and there are very few women there who choose to wear their natural hair. Natural hair is usually associated with the artsy type, older women, or rastafarians and it is generally considered either unattractive or unmanageable.
How long did you transition and how long have you been natural?
I transitioned for 6 months with micro braids and I’ve been natural for about 2 1/2 years now.
When did you decide to go natural and why?
My transition was unintentional. I had difficulty finding a stylist that I could trust to relax my hair, so getting braids was my last resort. When it was time for me to remove my braids, I thought, “I’ve always wanted to go natural, now is the time!”
It took a friend and me from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to remove the extensions and cut my hair into a 1 1/2 inch round afro. It was all by chance, but once I cut it, I was happy that I no longer had to admire natural hair from a distance; now, I could experience what it was like first-hand. I’ve been in love ever since!
How was your transition and did you feel about your natural hair in the beginning?
Because I could not keep my hands off my new growth under the braids, I kept losing quite a few of them. I even permanently removed a few extensions at the nape of my neck to support my habit! When I finally took all of the braids out, I was so elated. But, naturally, I was nervous about what my friends, family and new boyfriend would think. But, besides those initial fears, I grew more confident as I convinced myself everyday that it is nobody else’s business how I choose to wear my hair. Even to this day, I remind myself that no other group of people can achieve with their hair what I can with mine – that, in itself, should be a source of pride.
How much support did you receive when you decided to go natural?
My close girlfriends were very supportive but a few friends who are black and of other races either told me they preferred the extensions and my straightened hair or they just didn’t acknowledge my natural hair at all.
My family was pretty supportive, but I think it took a while for my parents to warm up to the idea – particularly my father (he’s still adjusting). And I get mixed reviews from acquaintances and strangers. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is my hair’s number one fan. He’s always encouraging me to wear protective styles to maintain the health of my hair and I can never get his hands out of my freshly washed hair.
I’ve also received lots of helpful tips and inspiration from motowngirl.com, my Fotki friends, and books like Hairstory, The Bluest Eye and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Has there been any difference in your life from going natural?
As a black woman, I am more confident in my own skin… and hair! I actually love the stares I get from people now because of my hair, because I feel like I am educating the public on what black women really look like – regardless of their health or wealth. Also, since I’ve gone natural, I feel a stronger allegiance and responsibility to the African diaspora because I realize that the reason I relaxed my hair was because I was too busy making excuses for why my naps were unacceptable. When I really should have been exploring the reasons I was buying into that notion in the first place. Now, that I am natural, I feel like nobody can ever tell me who I am or who I am supposed to be and I hope to encourage others to think similarly.
What has been the best thing about being natural?
The surprises. My hair never looks the same from one day to the next. It can be frustrating when I’m trying to duplicate last week’s amazing twist out, but I’ve learned to give my hair the freedom it needs to express itself.
What is your favorite hairstyle and why?
Although, I don’t wear it often, my favorite hairdo is a chunky twistout because it’s carefree, powerful and liberating. My favorite protective hairstyle is finger coils simply because I’m good at doing it.”
How do you take care of and maintain your hair?
“It’s very simple. I deep condition every 2 weeks and I apply shea butter and coconut oil for moisture about twice a week. I always sleep with a satin head-tie, I never comb my hair when it is dry, and I don’t use heat at all. And good old H2O refreshes my protective styles.”
If you were stranded on a deserted island and had to choose 3 things for your hair, what are three things you would have to have for your hair and why?
What advice would you give someone who was thinking of going natural?
Just do it! And expect to get frustrated with your texture, but before you decide to revert to chemicals, remember that you probably never gave your hair enough time to prove itself to you.
After being subjected to chemical treatments for so long, your hair may just be suffering from performance anxiety.
Check out Caymanian’s Journal here!