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January 12, 2010

I’ve only been at this blog thing for about a week now and although most of my posts have been about my fat chick struggles, some will just be about my chick struggles minus the fat.  This is one of those times.

I have eluded to this in previous posts but the last year of my work life has been stressful.  Well, stressful doesn’t really cover it… but because I’m not a walking thesaurus- we’ll just go with REALLY stressful.   And during my last hairstylist appointment, my hairdresser told me that my hair was falling out.

Whoa.  What?  Rewind.

I’m a black woman and I can’t really remember a time when I’ve had “healthy” hair.  I’ve been relaxing my hair since I was 8 years old… although it was clearly not my choice at 8, but a choice chosen for me by the adult women in my life.  I can’t even tell you what my natural hair looks like because prior to relaxers, my hair was in constant cornrows.

And ever since my first relaxer and my aunt’s experiment with s-curl on my hair (similar to jheri curl and thankfully very few pictures exist from this experiment), I have had damaged hair in one form or another.  And although I knew that the damage stemmed from relaxing my hair with chemicals that burned my scalp every 6-8 weeks, I continued to do it… for the last 23 years.

Black woman typically have super kinky hair.  And as a black woman, I was told and firmly believed that my hair was not manageable in its natural state and that’s why I needed a relaxer: “in order to manage my hair.”  The reality is that somewhere along the line, black women as a demographic bought into this premise that our kinky natural hair was not beautiful, so we began using a chemical that would straighten out the kinky curls and make our hair look more… well, European.

But during my last visit to the hairdresser, when she told me that my hair was seriously thinning out and could point to 2 balding spots- I panicked.   Now, there is a VERY good chance my hair thinning is related to the “REALLY stressful” workload I mentioned above.   But what if it is because of the stress I have been putting on my hair trying to have it conform to a more European look (ahem, oh I mean manage my hair) with these relaxers? And since there is no way to really determine today, right now, which is causing the hair loss (work/stress or the relaxer), I’ve decided to eliminate both.

Work has slowed down so my stress level should lower and after countless relaxers and scalp burns, I’m going natural.

I feel anxious.  Can I do this? Because the transition from relaxed to natural hair is not an easy process and can take well over a year.  What will my natural hair look like?  Will I like my natural hair?  What if it’s… eek… too natural?

Somehow all these questions (and more) have me anxious, but they also make me excited for the journey ahead.  And as an added bonus, I won’t have to continuously fail at the balancing act of the relaxed hair principle of not allowing it to get wet too often with working out and swimming (which as you have probably guessed, causes my hair to get wet).

But more than anxious and excited, I feel free.  Right now, all I have done is made the decision to venture on this approximately 1 year journey but somehow the freedom that comes with that decision has been the best feeling of them all.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Cricket permalink
    January 13, 2010 7:44 am

    Hi..I found your blog on Lorrie’s site (Token Fat Girl)..and am just starting out on my journey (again). I’ve learned that I need support (both offline and online) and have been surfing around the internet for likeminded people.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog 🙂

    In peace,

    • January 13, 2010 3:46 pm

      Hey Christina- Thanks for stopping by! We all definitely need a support system on this journey and ain’t that the beauty of the internets?! 😉 Hopefully we can support each other in our journeys!

  2. January 13, 2010 11:18 am

    There’s not a month goes by that I don’t lose hours looking at my hair and wanting to cry for no good reason. Half of the grays come from worrying about the rest of them, it’s a cruel, cruel cycle. I hope the new regime works out for you!

    • January 13, 2010 3:44 pm

      tell me about it sister. I’m just starting to get gray hairs and although I didn’t mention it, that was another reason (albeit ancillary) on why I decided to go natural. If i tried to color and relax my hair– my hair would surely fall off. I’ve gone to 2 different stylists who were not willing to color my hair because it would cause irreversible damage in conjunction with my relaxer. Eeek! And worse, my gray hair is only coming in in the front of my head around my temples so its really obvious! A woman’s hair is a cruel cycle and thanks for the well wishes!

  3. kpw permalink
    January 13, 2010 2:06 pm

    It’s amazing what we do to fit into someone else’s idea of what is beautiful. (Who is that jerk, anyway???) I’m excited to read about your transition! How about posting some pics along the way? You can still block out your face if you want to stay anonymous. Just an idea.

    • January 13, 2010 3:41 pm

      What a great idea KPW! I think I’m going to have to do that. Thanks for the suggestion! It’s going to be an interesting ride. 🙂

  4. January 15, 2010 11:16 am

    For what its worth, coming from a white chick who knows next to nothing about black culture, I’ve always loved natural black hair. So thick, so strong, so full, and big with volume and life–it can do things white hair cannot. Every single one of those hair pics in your post, even the last, strikes me as marvelous and beautiful. I hope you come to love your natural hair as it grows back, for however it manifests, it will be fabulous. Good luck with the transition.

  5. January 16, 2010 5:56 pm

    Congrats on attempting to go natural, it’s something i’ve always wanted to do but when push comes to shove, i’ll make an excuse to avoid chopping my hair off (the relaxed part). How will my hair grow out? Will I look cute? In regard to the myth of natural hair being unmanageable and black women choosing to relax our hair. One important thing to mention is that most black women often do not have a choice. Their mothers/grandmothers made the choice to relax their hair at a young age and it’s something they’ve grown to maintain. Add the pressure to confirm and the ‘good hair’ ideal, it’s easy to see why so many black women spend a ridiculous amount of time and money maintaining relaxed hair.

  6. hsofia permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:08 pm

    Hi there – saw you on Bri’s blog, and followed you here. I am another fat black chick. And I have been sans relaxers for most of my life – but really intentionally for the last six or seven years. I will *never* go back to relaxing it. I prefer myself with curly, kinky hair, and I don’t like being beholden to a hair stylist or a box of product. It’s been an interesting and loooong road to not only self-acceptance, but acceptable (to me) hair styles. One of the most important things for me to do was figure out what my daily hairdo would be. If you think about it, black women tend to change their hairstyles more than ANY OTHER WOMEN ON THE PLANET. There are always exceptions (movie and music stars), but in general … that’s just my experience. So rather than trying to experiment with something new every day as a new natural hair woman, I tried to identify that one daily wear style that I liked so. Otherwise I’d just be grimacing in the mirror every day.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts to this post. Good luck! I hope it works out for you! And remember – it’s just hair! I’ve had all my hair cut off/shaved off several times. That went a long way to helping me get over my fears. It always grows back.

    • January 22, 2010 9:48 am

      So true. We do change our hairstyles more than most! I think you’re right that I need to identify my go to style and stick with it. At least for transitioning, I think I found it although I assume as more new growth occurs, I may have to readjust. We’ll see. Day by day, right? Thanks for the advice!

  7. hsofia permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:12 pm

    Oh by the way, my hair looks a lot like the second and last pics. I think my daughter will end up having hair more like the second to the last pic – but really, her hair is no easier than mine to style. I twist mine up and am good to go for days … weeks. Her hair doesn’t hold twists, and her beautiful curls get squashed at night/in the carseat, etc. There is no bad/good hair – just different kinds of hair.

  8. Lurker permalink
    March 9, 2010 8:55 am

    Hey, just wondering if you got permission from these people (like Mwedzi) before using their pics on your blog

    • March 9, 2010 9:58 am

      @Lurker… you live and you learn, I guess. I’m very new to this blogging world and had googled natural hair images which is how I got those pictures. To be honest, it never dawned on me to ask permission because I found it on google… but as you can see, I’ve taken all the pics off!!! Like I said, you live and you learn. 🙂

  9. March 9, 2010 12:04 pm

    I just wanted to reach out to you, because I definitely feel you on both levels…the weight and the hair! I am proud to say that I have “conquered” the weight (although, I do realize it will be a life long change! Please feel free to check out my blog to see how I did it), but I am brand new to this hair thing! I am only approaching my 5th month of transitioning, but truly enjoying the journey! I wish you all the best and much love discovering the natural you!

    • March 12, 2010 12:18 pm

      well, you’re a month older than me @robyn’s nest when it comes to the hair thing!!! But it’s been a great journey so far! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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