A: I am from Raleigh, North Carolina. The natural scene here has picked up tremendously within the last two years.
Q. How has your experience been with natural hair?
A: I have been natural since October 2009 and transitioned while deployed to Iraq with the NC Army National Guard. I must admit my first thoughts. was how were the other officers going to react? Let me say and believe me, I was the “talk” of the town. Some people even considered me to be depressed for doing the big chop (which was far from the true, as the experience was very liberating!) I took notice that I was unappreciated by those in the ethnic community more than other races, believe it or not. If it weren’t for my self-confidence, I would have definitely slapped relaxer back in my hair. I overcame all of this and have been natural ever since!
Q.How much support did you receive when you decided to go natural?
A. I received a lot of support from my children, my sisters, my mom, and my best friend (who was deployed with me.) He helped me to shave my head and was actually a big part of me making the decision to go natural.
Q: In your opinion, what has been some of the best things about having natural hair?
A: Compared to my relaxed hair days it is not as expensive to maintain my hair, I can do more hairstyles without burning out my hair and it doesn’t bother me to get caught in the rain or humid weather. Last but not least, I know what my hair is supposed to look like and now I find I can identify with my race, now more than ever.
Q: Have you had any negative experiences while wearing natural hair? How did you cope?
A: Oh yes, I was constantly asked “are you able to wear your beret with your hair so poofy?” I was told that I looked African (like that was something bad.) Lastly I would hear “oh…your hair used to be slamming – why did you go natural?” LOL. I coped with diving further into my research on how to maintain beautiful hair in its natural state, how to spice up my natural with highlights and low lights, and to continue to appreciate my hair by researching things like why black women began relaxing/straightening their hair, African-American hair in the workplace, etc. It is not only a freeing experience, it is a statement…This is who I am.
A: I shampoo my hair with homemade shampoos that I make with essential oils and castile soap once a month to clarify it. I “lo poo” or “no poo” my hair at least twice a week to remove oils and homemade products that I apply to my hair to maintain its proper pH level, as well as moisture level. I also make a spritzer that I apply to my hair two to three times a day (depending on the weather) to keep my hair from dehydrating.
At night, I sleep on a satin pillow (hair bonnets and scarves do not stay on my head.) Sometimes I leave my conditioner in overnight with a plastic cap then a microfiber towel around it for a deep conditioning treatment. Under normal day to day circumstances, I don’t braid or twist my hair on most occasions because I usually wear my “afro” or I twist my hair in the morning. This way I have the least amount of tension on my hair as possible, to prevent extra stress on my hair. I keep shea and mango butter stocked at home as well for my ends, along with vegetable glycerin and aloe vera juice.
Q: What advice would you give someone who was thinking of going natural?
A: Ensure that you are prepared to face negativity from other people who do not understand why you choose to wear your hair natural. There will be others who do not understand the beauty and confidence that being natural provides to the individual. Embrace and love who you are, not what you think you should look like based on what others think about you. You will find that once you really love yourself, it doesn’t matter what others say to you or think. Don’t give your power away. Instead, take up your power and indulge in your natural state of mind, body, spirit, soul, and yes, hair. Your hair doesn’t make you, but it is your glory.
Q: Do you have any final thoughts?
A: I tried to go natural twice prior to my last success. I found that society as a whole does not want you to be who you truly are. Granted, if a person decides to continue to get relaxers, does that make them less of a person? No, of course not! However, if every woman (and some men) could experience the freedom that you receive once you embrace your natural hair texture, kinkiness, curliness, etc., without feeling ashamed? That’s powerful IMO!