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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tales from the roots....

At the beginning of November I will have made it to the 6 month mark of my natural hair journey. I'll be honest, I decided to start this process on a whim. Usually girls who start their transition have a very heart felt reason, like their hair was wrecked by years of relaxers, they wanted to embrace their African roots/ culture or they wanted to abandon the 'straight hair = good hair' notion society crams down our throats. And when I say society I'm not cryptically referring to white people, I am also including African Americans. I have yet to encounter any comments from people outside of my own race about my growing kinky roots but the feed back I have received from people who look like me is probably just as harsh.
My reason for beginning my transition sprung from frustration and curiosity. I have always had long, thick hair, with or without a relaxer, albeit my hair was longer before I relaxed it. Relaxing my hair never effected thickness but it did affect length. I got my first relaxer right before my eight grade luncheon. My mom was against it from the start but I was adamant that this was what I needed.
I was tired of the big, frizzy, childish pony tails and french braids. I wanted to look older and to look like the girls my age who had relaxers, wore their hair down and had boyfriends. Back then we had limited knowledge of what to do with my hair. I hated the hot comb, which was uncomfortable to sit through and didn't last long in this humid Chicago weather, no ceramic flat iron and we had no knowledge of twist outs! I felt as though a relaxer was what I needed.

Fast forward to my very last perm on May 4th 2013...
My best friend was in the process of abandoning her perm and I began to seriously consider it as I got closer to the time for my next relaxer. When it came time for me to get my hair done I was told that the length that I had accumulated over the past months needed to be trimmed because of breakage on one side. This was a recurring problem for me. My hair would be healthy and grow but breakage would force me to cut my hair back to a shoulder length style. No matter what I did it seemed that retaining any length past my shoulder was impossible.
In June I decided to cut my hair. I originally wanted to cut it for my 22nd birthday the previous December but I let naysayers talk me out of it. Everyone LOVES long, straight hair, it's the standard of beauty, but I was tired of my hair being an identifier or indication of my beauty. I knew I would look great without it (and I do) so I went for it.

Frustrated with habitual breakage and curious about my hair's potential with my new knowledge and accessibility to products, techniques and beauticians I accepted the challenge of a long term transition. I knew it would be hard and I realized that I had made one huge mistake of starting my transition in the summer. My relaxer was six weeks grown out when I cut it and after a few more weeks of added new growth and humidity it became increasingly hard to keep my hair straight, which was still too short to do transition styles. Frustrated, I decided to wear head wraps to keep from applying too much heat to my hair. Months three and four were very difficult and discouraging. I really just wanted to get a perm and wait to grow it out later but what kept me going was thinking about the future. I knew that if I kept on going I would have a lot to be proud of by December, my 7 month mark.
Month five was slightly easier. My hair was long enough to braid so I kept it in a sew in. I took it down and washed my hair at the four week mark and re installed it. I love weave but it started to drive me crazy at that point so I began to wear transition styles. Bantu Knots are my favorite transition style. I really do love the look of short hair but I'm really excited to see my hair grow and become bigger and bigger. I just pray that going natural will help me retain length and give me more versatility. 

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