I was born and raised in Detroit (7 Mile Baby!!!), the hair capital of the world. I moved to Chicago after graduating from Harvard Law School. In the last year or so it has really started to take off. There are regular meetups and workshops held here that bring black women with natural hair together for the purpose of exchanging hair advice, swapping products, and just sharing the natural love. If you’re ever interested in events going on in the Chicago area, you can always click on events on my website at http://tginblog.com/events.
I went natural in 2002 after I grew tired and frustrated of spending so much time and money on my hair. When my hair was relaxed, it would go through this vicious cycle, where it would grow then break off, then grown then break off some more. Finally, I met a stylist, William of W Salon in Boston, who told me that I didn’t need a perm and that I could start pressing my hair. Long story short, I decided to stop pressing my hair and wore a wig for two years. Although I was natural at the time, I was never fully comfortable with wearing my own hair until one life changing episode happened. You can read all about it in my new book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair available online at www.tginstore.com or get a sneak peak online at Amazon.com.
Well you have to take into consideration it was 2002 when I went natural. There weren’t nearly as many natural hair outlets as there are now. Facebook and Youtube weren’t even on the radar, so I pretty much had to learn everything on my own through trial and error. I also used to go to MotownGirl.com and the Nappturality forums to read about what other women were doing to care for their hair. At first, my family thought I was a little nuts for growing out my perm, but once they realized it wasn’t just a fly-by night thing I was doing, they got on board and many of them went natural as well.
I wrote Thank God I’m Natural to help dispel some of the most common myths and misconceptions about kinky hair. Part of the reason it took me so long to let go of my relaxer is because I was so misinformed. Like so many black women living in America, I thought I couldn’t wear my hair in its natural state, because my tresses looked nothing like Alicia Key’s or Mariah Carey’s. When I came to the realization that I could go natural, I wanted to share all the information I learned about caring for my hair with others. I also wanted to let the ladies know that going natural would not put an end to their career, prevent them from getting a date, or require them to join the “movement.”
Well, I think there are a number of factors which explain why Thank God I’m Natural was recently proclaimed the “Natural Hair Bible” by Essence Magazine. First off, it features the styling recommendations of celebrity stylists for individuals like Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Floetry, Mos Def, among others, in addition to the perspectives of everyday women on going natural. It also contains an entire chapter devoted to homemade hair recipes, which people LOVE, as well as an international salon directory. Finally, it covers virtually every topic related to natural hair (e.g. the truth about hair relaxers, product picks for different types of natural hair, dealing with hair loss, tips for distinguishing between natural products and their imposters, as well as, many other subjects). I’ll also add that the models are absolutely beautiful, and the styles are modern, up to date and something you would wear to work or if you’re going out on a date with your man or woman (hey it’s 2011).
I love that I don’t have to spend so much time obsessing over my hair. It’s like it’s there, but it doesn’t control my life. When I was relaxed, I had to constantly worry about whether every hair was in place, what would happen to my hair if it was raining outside, or if I was sweating too much when I was working out. When you get rid of these types of stresses, you’ll start to notice a huge difference in your personality and find that you’re a lot more easy going. I also love how my hair feels and looks like real hair (soft like cotton candy). Finally, I think it’s one of my greatest accessories. It’s so big, wild and sexy. It just fits my personality.
To be honest, I’ve been truly blessed when it comes to my natural hair. I get tons of emails from women who tell me stories about how their family has reacted to them being natural. Comments such as “No one will hire you” or “You were prettier with your straight hair” can really be damaging to a woman who is going through such a big change. However, for me, everyone has been very supportive. Working in a law firm, one would assume I had a difficult time, but because being natural allows me to be so versatile, I found myself meriting more compliments than anything.
To anyone who is thinking about going natural, my first piece of advice would be that this must be your decision, and your decision only. No one else can go through this journey with you. My next piece of advice would be to be patient. After I decided to go natural and do the Big Chop it took a while for me to learn how to appreciate and adjust to the “new Chris-Tia.” For so long I had pin straight hair that had a shine to it, and then to look in the mirror and see hair like cotton candy that wasn’t perfectly in place took a while to get used to. Waiting for my hair to grow back was almost the equivalent for waiting for grass to grow. There were so many times I wanted to throw in the towel and throw in a relaxer. But I stuck through it and I’m glad I did it. Overall the best part about being natural is that after you finish transitioning, you start to have a different outlook on what you eat, and how you treat your body. Going natural is only the beginning.
For tips on transitioning, click here (http://thankgodimnatural.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/transitioning-tips-part-1-of-2). Transitioners should also read this article we recently wrote titled “Is going Natural for Everyone?”
Question 10: Any future plans you can let us know about so we can keep tabs on you?
In the short term, we’re just going to continue to grow internationally. We’re already in bookstores throughout London and in Jamaica. We hope to be in bookstores in Paris, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa by the end of the year. I’m also working as a television correspondent for a segment titled “The Green Life” on the Garrard McClendon Show, which addresses health and wellness topics, such as buying organic food on a budget, restaurants serving flavorful vegetarian options, urban farming, and energy and money saving tips for keeping your home green. Finally, in the long term (2011), we’ll be launching a product line for black women with kinky tresses, so stay tuned for more information.
MotownGirl, thank you so much for the opportunity to be featured on your website. Also, many thanks to all the women and men who have believe in my cause and have bought my book. Stay natural.
Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair is now available at Barnes & Nobles, Borders and online at Amazon.com.