Shoremen Speak: WAC Girls Going All Natural

By Kay Wicker
Lifestyle Editor

I remember the first day my mother ever put a relaxer in my hair. I was eight-years-old. She told me it was going to sting a little, but afterwards my hair would be beautiful. A little girl smiled up at me encouragingly from the cover of the box. Stung it did. Once it starts to sting, it’s time for the rinsing. The rinsing process was frightening. Water splashing everywhere, the stinging seemed to get worse. After the rinsing came the smelly conditioner and then more scary rinsing. Then the blow dryer, that was hot and loud. Soon came the curling iron and after the last steamy curl was coiled and bounced to perfection my mother brought me to the mirror and smiled from behind me. I looked just like the pretty girl on the box. This process became a monthly ritual for the next 10 years of my life.

Around the age 18, I met the weave. I’m talking Beyonce style weave. I’d sit down in a hair salon chair while the hair dresser would pull my hair into tight tear evoking braids and then sew, yes literally sew, fake hair on top of them. Every time I had to sit through this six-hour process I always cursed myself, until the final twist of the chair reveal. I wore a weave pretty much up until this summer when finally I said, enough! No more perms, no more hair dye, no more extreme Rihanna inspired cuts, and no more weaves! I wanted my hair. Not my hair after it’s been straightened. My hair as it grows out of my head naturally.

I was once told our hair is our crown and we should wear it like a king does. I don’t know too many kings that willingly hide their crowns under hats. So why have black women hidden their natural beautiful hair under perms, weaves, and other forms of hair manipulation for so long? The easiest answer, that I know will strike a very sensitive cord in a lot of people, is to assimilate with white American culture. For decades it has been discouraged and even considered shameful for black women to wear their hair in styles likened to the Afro. In fact, the Afro is so controversial it’s seen as a political statement for both black men and women.

With this newfound motivation I spent all summer getting to know my hair. I’m certainly not the only one. Young women everywhere are chopping off long silky and straight permed hair to don their natural curly and kinky manes. Trends can be obnoxious, but this is one trend I can get behind. My roommate, Phaedra Scott, has gone natural, stating “I wanted to see what my real hair looked like and what I could do with it. I also wanted to be okay with it for myself.” Another friend who’s a junior at WC, Tynetta Smith states, “I went natural for the over all health of my hair.”

Both of these reasons I can completely sympathize with. I chose to go natural not just to explore what my real hair looks like, but because I was running the risk of not having any real hair if I kept it up. I had always thought that my hair type wasn’t meant to grow long and ridiculously fast the way my friends who had finer hair would. I always just sighed and shrugged my shoulders in defeat until I found out that the perms I had been using were pretty much halting my hair’s growth indefinitely.

It’s so exciting to go natural now because there are so many references of information. YouTube gurus like Naptrual and blogs like CurlyNiki or Around The Way Curls offering the best information on how to go natural and be successful. Target even has a natural hair care section now! Despite all the millions of methods we can try, one has to find the one that works for them and be patient! I’m still searching for my regimen while for most it takes a full year to find one that works for them. “Every girl going natural needs a deep conditioner, daily conditioner, and at least some sort of oil to seal in moisture,” Tynetta noted. Moisture is key!

How does one even go natural you ask? Well, there a several different tactics. Some girls do what is known as the “big chop,” in which they cut off all their hair and allow it to just grow back. While others take a less drastic approach, like me, and transition. Meaning we allow for our hair to simply just grow trimming our damaged and permed ends off gradually. Eventually I’ll do the big chop, but until then I’m reveling in the new length my hair produced for now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *