Q: Where are you from and how is the natural scene there?
A: I currently attend Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. Being that it is an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), the natural scene is somewhat decent (although the majority of girls constantly have relaxers and/or weaves).
Q: Did you transition to natural hair? If so, what were your experiences?
A: I have been wearing my hair natural for 3 years now. I first started transitioning when I was in 10th grade. Because my father disapproved, I got it flat-ironed every 2 weeks when my mother took me to the salon. One day after cheering at a basketball game (I was a cheerleader for 6 years), my father saw a few little nappies and forced me to get a relaxer. This was my junior year. I was so distraught, I never let him do it again (and trust me, he tried).
I transitioned for about a year and a half, wearing my hair flat-ironed because of my father. The wednesday before I left for college, I had my left-over relaxed ends trimmed off. As soon as my parents had me situated in my first dorm room, I stuck my head under the faucet so I could see my natural hair in all its glory for the very 1st time. I haven’t looked back since.
Q. Did you have any support?
A: Almost none whatsoever. My father was completely against it and still feels as though I’ve betrayed him somehow (crazy). My mother wasn’t as opposing as my father, but she was not supportive, either. My elder brother was even more distraught than my father… he is an avid “fashionisto” and “divo” and would prefer that I wear 8 pounds of make up, a 14 inch weave, and stilettos every day. My sister was the only semi-support I had, but she lives so far from home.
Lastly, all my life, I’ve gone to schools where if I wasn’t the only black kid in the class, I was one of (at most) 8. So none of my friends (who were all white) even knew what the heck I was talking about, therefore I was basically alone throughout my journey.
Q: In your opinion, what has been some of the best things about having natural hair?
A: I love being seen for example the area where my parents live now (a small town in Wisconsin), *everyone* notices my hair. There aren’t too many black folks out here, and the few that are seem to all have straight hair. Some people stare, especially kids, but I get a lot of compliments. Also natural hair gives me an edge and gives me confidence (which I lacked previously).
More importantly, having natural hair has given me the strength to stand up for myself. I have to defend my choice against my father’s and brother’s opinions every time I come home from school.
Q: What is your weekly hair routine?
A: I shampoo every 1-2 weeks and condition as often as possible. In the shower, I first get my hair soaking wet and detangle it with my fingers. Then I repeat this process using lots of conditioner. Then I shampoo and condition it one last time. After I shampoo and condition, I spray in a leave-in conditioner and moisturize my hair with any product that has olive oil and no petroleum. I wear a silk “mushroom” cap to bed every night and keep a silk pillowcase at my boyfriend’s place.
As far as styles go, it depends on the season. During the summer, I do a condition-and-go style almost every day because it’s quick, simple, and keeps me cool. I do this for as long as I can during the school year as well, but when it gets cold, I change that up (my mother taught me to never go out in the cold with wet hair!) This is when I do twists. Occasionally I’ll take my time and do a nice 2-strand twist that’ll last for a week or so. Then I take them out and just wear a twist-out until it just doesn’t look appealing anymore.
Most of the time, though, I just do a quick and dirty twist before bed, place a scarf on it, and then remove them in the morning for a chunky afro. I’ll either leave it as is, pull it back, or (my very recent favorite) pin up the sides for a cute little frohawk.
Q: What advice would you give someone who was thinking of going natural?
A: If this is truly what you want to do, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. I had absolutely no support system and had to reach out on the internet at sites like MotownGirl.com for support. Be strong in your choice. And when the going gets tough, just think about the reasons why you wanted to go natural in the first place. I posted pictures of girls with beautiful naturally nappy hair all over my bedroom wall for inspiration.
Q: Do you have any final thoughts?
A: Why on earth is it considered normal to go through all of the trouble of chemically and permanently straightening our hair, but it’s revolutionary to just leave it the heck alone? *Shrug*