Where are you from and how is the natural scene there? I’m originally from Detroit but I transitioned and went natural while I was living in Ann Arbor, MI. I now live in Atlanta, GA. In Ann Arbor there were a lot of women transitioning on campus but I’m not sure if they have all went through it. It was becoming sort of a trend on campus instead of a conscious choice to embrace yourself. In Atlanta when it comes to natural styles I see mostly locs but not to many loose naturals.
How long did you transition and how long have you been natural?
I transitioned for appx. 1 year (May 2004 – May 2005) and I have been totally natural for a year and 5 months (May 2005 – present).
I didn’t receive a relaxer until senior year of high school so I had spent the majority of my life just getting my hair pressed or my mom doing it while it was wet for the most part. So I knew about my natural hair I just didn’t know how to do it since I had never had to do my own hair until I got a relaxer. One of my really good friends cut her bra strap length hair all off the summer I decided to transition and she kind of talked me into it.
At first I was just not going to get a relaxer anymore because I wanted my hair to grow as long as it had been in the past. I wasn’t really even planning on cutting my relaxed hair. Eventually, throughout the transition I started to read about hair care and being natural and started changing my mental process. I had been trained to think that I had “good hair” because it was easily straightened that I wasn’t ready for my hair to be anything but “good”. So I spent 5 years of my life relaxed and then the summer before my senior year of college I cut the relaxer out.
How was your transition and did you feel about your natural hair in the beginning?
I was really nervous throughout my transition because I’ve never been good at doing my own hair. Plus, I was worried about what people at school would say and how my mom and boyfriend (at the time)would take it. Which wasn’t very well honestly but they’ve since grown to like it and appreciate my decision.
After I cut my hair initially it was straightened and it felt so weird to have no hair on my neck. I really liked the cut and wore it that way for a week until I decided to go ahead and see what it would look like natural. When I stepped out of the shower and put products in my hair I almost cried because I was so shocked at how short it looked after shrinkage. I felt like I looked like a little boy and no one would find me attractive. My roommate reassured me that I didn’t look like a boy and it was cute; and the new guy I had been spending time with kept telling me that I was beautiful. I seriously had to look in the mirror and remind myself why I had done this.
Once I started experimenting and realizing how beautiful I really was with short hair I loved my hair. I’m still glad that I decided to cut my hair during summer break because it gave me a chance to adjust to my hair without being scrutinized by my peers, because by the time the fall semester started I was so confident in myself it didn’t really matter.
How much support did you receive when you decided to go natural?Also do you recommend any natural hair books/magazines?
I received a lot of support from one of my friends and she turned me on to motowngirl.com as well as nappturality.com. I really liked your site the most because I didn’t really feel pressure to become an all out natural nazi so to speak. There was a lot of information and there really weren’t people there to rant about random things. I recommend reading Da Costa’s hair book because it really helped me with learning to care for my hair.
As far as negativity not many people knew that I was transitioning because I wore braids a lot and I also wore braid outs which I had started doing in college because it was an easy quick hairstyle for me. My then boyfriend wasn’t exactly supportive and whenever I tried to show him hairstyles of women with similar textures to mine he didn’t really respond the way I expected him too, so that was very rough.
Has there been any difference in your life from going natural?
Going natural has made me a more confident person. I’ve learned to really appreciate what I see in the mirror in the morning and not worry about what everyone else sees. I feel like in the past I used my long hair as a crutch and something to hide behind. It was the one thing on myself that I felt made me beautiful, but I realized that I’m just as beautiful with short hair. Ironically, embracing my natural hair has also made me embrace my dark skin as well.
What has been the best thing about being natural?
Learning how to do my own hair. Cutting down on time to get ready in the morning. I love being able to get dressed in 30 minutes now because my hair can dry while I’m ironing and putting my clothes on and I can either shake it out or finger fluff it on the way out the door. Whenever I wore my hair straight (or even if I straighten it now) it always takes me an additional 20 minutes min. to get my hair the way I like it.
What is your favorite hairstyle and why?
My favorite hairstyle is a twist out shake and go. I wear my hair in twists for a few days (I try to do at least a week) and then I take the twists out, wet my hair in the shower and put in products and then shake it out. It makes my shake and go a little more uniform than it normally is and I can do this for about a week before I need to wash it and stuff. Now that my hair has grown more I’ve started putting it in a puff because it stays out of my face and it looks really nice and neat. I’m all about low hairstyles but that still give me the prissy look to go with my sometimes prissy attitude.
How do you take care of and maintain your hair?
I usually conditioner wash my hair and detangle it at least once a week (unless I’m wearing the above style). I don’t really have a strict regiman I just do what feels right and so far my hair seems to follow the idea that less is more. In the summer since I wear my hair out a lot more I tend to conditioner wash and detangle it every other day or every 2 days.
Do you take care of your hair all by yourself or do you visit salons? What hair products do you use and swear by?
Since I’m a broke college student (now graduate student) I take care of my own hair for the most part. I do go to the salon for trims and an occassional press. I even had a friend do a natural hairstyle for a formal event for me because I hadn’t mastered it myself yet.
I love V05 Conditioners they are sooo great for my hair. I also really like Pantene Conditioning Curls but it’s a little drying if I use it all the time. My one staple product is Paul Mitchell Foaming Pommade and the mousse. It’s a little pricey sometimes but it lasts a really long time. Garnier Fructis Soft Curl Cream I use it for my twists.
There aren’t that many products I really want to try at the moment, I’ve learned to be happy with the products that work for me at the moment and not spend money on tons of other things.
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?
Conditioner, Paul Mitchell Foaming Pommade and a detangling brush. These are the three products I use the most and they never fail me.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking of going natural?
Make your decision for you, not for anyone else or because it’s a trend. Embrace your natural self and don’t let anyone make you feel like something is wrong with you because of your decision. It’s really an internal mental process. I know some people think that you should just chop it and be done with it but I honestly believe that transitioning is the best decision. It gives you time to truly embrace the change taking place not just on your head but inside as well. Oh and don’t be like me and wear extensions throughout most of the transition because it will be an even bigger shock.
Thank you for being the MotownGirl.com’s Spotlight of the Month!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this. I LOVE your website and the natural spotlights are always helpful to me. I hope that my experience will help someone just like yours has helped me.
Visit Danielle’s Journal here!