I am from Tobago (the little sister of Trinidad), in the Caribbean and our population in Tobago is 50,000. Though we have a lot of African-based traditions and festivals many women have relaxed hair or are chronic weave wearers. Natural hair is considered nappy and childish for the most part by a large percentage of society, except when worn in locks.
I have been natural for six years; but due to severe breakage I had to cut my hair three years ago. Before that I was relaxed and my experience transitioning was awful! When I was 20 years-old, working in a bank with short (1 inch) of natural hair was not pleasant. I always felt less professional, though a senior employee there had dreadlocks and would encourage me regularly.
I didn’t tell many people I was going to cut my hair off, they just saw me with comb twists one day. I constantly had people telling me to braid it, relax it and keep it short or put extensions in my hair. Apart from my colleague at the bank, the only people that commended me were other people with locks or natural hair.
During the early days while my hair was in TWA form, I felt that I could do nothing to make it look ‘good.’ My mistake was thinking that ‘good’ meant curly and wavy. As soon as I understood that my texture is different (more kinky,) I began embracing my TWA and styling it more enthusiastically.
It’s great to get to be me! I’ve gained more self-confidence because I don’t hide behind weaves and relaxed hair. One new perk is I have been able to meet some awesome women who are also natural. Lastly I can walk in the rain and even get my hair wet at the beach!
Well this is a work-in-progress because I am still new to some of the natural hair care techniques. I do not wash often…maybe once every three weeks or so. If I decide to go to the beach I co-wash. I oil my scalp at least twice a day because it dries out really fast. I usually do cane-rows (corn-rows) to sleep and I wear my sateen bonnet. I try to not keep my hair in twists more than two weeks because it tends to get knotted. I use Vitamin E oil or castor oil for my scalp; lavender essential oil and shea butter for my hair and occasionally a lock and twist gel.
Be prepared to take heavy criticism. For example if you decide to go natural don’t give into peer pressure.Keep in mind if you are not comfortable with being natural, the critics will make you go back to relaxers or hide your hair under wigs and weaves. Finally, give natural hair a real chance, as you will have some days when your puff won’t look right or your twist out doesn’t have a great curl pattern. Just be patient! Though I had little support, my mom is now natural. There will be people looking at you so rock your puff with pride!