Sunday, January 2, 2011
Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - The Mentals and Physicals of being a Naturalista
Ok, so my intention was to write all of my natural hair goals for 2011. But I have decided to switch gears - in honor of "Natural Hair Day", I'm gonna post 11 simple do's and don'ts for true natural divas. I've got seven years in the natural hair game, and I have seen it ebb and flow through things both positive and negative. So here goes:
1. DO be honest about your inspiration. I didn't decide to transition because I wanted to liberate myself from the evil clutches of chemicals. I transitioned because I was a starving actress who could not afford touch-ups at NY's high-priced salons. Whether my curl pattern was wavy or zig-zaggy, I was going for it. *shrugs* If you want to transition because its trendy now, go for it. Its your hair, not your religion.
2. DON'T look down on sistas who have relaxers. Just because someone has a perm does not mean they hate themselves! When I had a relaxer, I loved my hair. Now that my hair is all-natural...I love my hair. I always say, good hair is hair that is well groomed and well taken care of. There is room in that category for all of us!
3. DON'T think that because you're natural that you can put anything "natural" on your hair! I'll say this again - I am not putting monkey sweat, raw ostrich eggs, sulfured molasses, or anything else ridiculous in my hair just because it's "all-natural". It's ok to peruse the kitchen for some natural hair essentials, but please understand and know your hair. There are products out there that are designed to make your process easier - take advantage of them!
4. DO understand that everyones hair is different. So your girlfriend gives a product a raving review, but on your head, it ends in a sticky mess. Your hair is unique to you - and I mean more than just a curl type label. All 4a's and 3c's aren't curled alike.
5. DO have patience and be willing to experiment. You can't find out everything there is to know about your hair from blogs and YouTube tutorials. At some point, you're going to have to just try some stuff out and learn your hair. Products don't change just because you finally found a review where it worked for someone. If it didn't work the first time you tried it, it still won't. And remember, it takes your hair at least two weeks to get accustomed to a new regimen. So don't get discouraged if you don't see results right away.
6. DON'T let society and the media tell you what your hair should look like! Ladies, at the peaks of our natural hair journeys, we will not all look like Alicia Keys and Mel B. Invest in what style will look good on you, and don't stop searching until you find something you love with your hair.
7. DON'T let people discourage you from transitioning! The truth is, people are afraid of what they don't understand. Why on earth would someone want to NOT comb their hair everyday? Why wouldn't you want sleek, straight hair that you can swing? Isn't that what every lady wants? Not anymore. And please try and refrain from getting wrapped up in Jigaboo/Wannabe fights. We're so past that - don't let a relaxed chick intimidate you. If you're feeling the pressure, just wait until you're ready. We'll be here for you when you are. ;-)
8. DON'T buy into the notion that natural hair is a "movement". Choosing to go natural is just that - a choice. Women have had the option of wearing their hair in natural styles since the beginning of time. The fact that it is trendy now doesn't make it a movement. Just makes folks more aware. Kind of like how Oprah's Book Club had to remind some folks that black women do read. Making it a movement means that it will eventually be done, having made its mark on history. I want my children and grandchildren to always have the option of wearing their hair how they want without feeling alienated by society.
9. DO understand styling your hair isn't just about the products - it's also about the process. I have learned that not taking care in the process of caring for your natural hair can be detrimental, no matter how good the product is. Take the time to take the necessary steps - let the conditioner saturate the hair shaft. Comb through in sections. Don't dry with a towel. Don't cut corners in your process and then blame the product. My entire hair regimen at the moment cost me all of $25 and I'm super happy with the results now that I know exactly how to use them.
10. DO understand that as a true natural diva, you can make your own rules. Wanna color your natural hair? Do it. Who cares if some people consider hair dye a chemical? Wanna straighten your natural hair every week? Do it. I didn't sign on to be a natural hair ambassador - I did it cuz it works for ME. Some naturalistas love concocting and mixing their own hair products right from their kitchen, while others spend hundreds of dollars on products that are just right for their hair. Neither is wrong. I'm not natural, my hair is. So don't give me the side-eye when you see me eating McDonald's instead of organic hemp seed tofu sandwiches. My hair does not, will not, and hasn't ever defined me.
11. DO surround yourself with a support system if you need it. I went at my transition journey pretty much alone - just me and my hairdresser. But it wasn't that bad. I've never been one to follow the crowd, but unfortunately, in the short years that I have had natural hair, times have changed. Take advantage of whatever you need that's out there - natural hair forums, blogs, YouTube videos, transition buddies, hair mentors, whatever. We live in a world where your hair may not seem like a big deal...until you get passed over for a job because of it, or something equally as disrespectful. Be supportive and you'll get it back. That's something that works whether it's about your hair or not, ladies.
That's all I got. Here's to new styles, new mind sets, and a new attitude for you and your hair!