The Thought Process
So, at one point it hits you, for major reasons or for none at all. You decide to wear your hair “natural”. You stop using chemical straighteners on your hair or vow to responsibly use heat. You no longer want to alter the pattern of your “crowning glory”. Your strands are glorious and they’re actually curly. CURLY! You see that your hair isn’t like anything you use to scour pans. It doesn’t match anything used to clean floors and it for sure doesn’t look like you’ve been electrocuted when you wear it naturally voluminous loose and free. You commit to learning about your natural hair.
You are now responsible for keeping these curls. What to do! You want to know what to use to keep your hair healthy, strong and growing because you have just started to accept that we can have long hair just like anyone else. You wonder, will THIS work? Will THAT work? You look for people who have hair just like you, so you have an idea what to expect of your own hair. You follow natural hair gurus on YouTube and the blogs meticulously. Looking at their hair process is like looking at your future in a crystal ball. You want your hair to grow and you want it yesterday, but you remain patient. You’ve found a few products that work, and it relieves your panic about hair breakage. You don’t want to start over.
You’re making great progress in your hair journey. Your hair is soft and manageable with a little help from your sidekicks in a bottle and a regimen you’ve figured out. It was a little trickier than you thought and maybe you even stayed in a night or two instead of going out with friends because your hair had a different idea about how a twist out should look. But you realize that you love your hair and that it’s always helpful to have a plan A, B or Y for your hair especially because the only option you’ll accept is your hair looking extra cute!
People encourage you by telling you how gorgeous your hair is and that you make them want to wear their natural texture as well. When people ask you for hair advice while you’re on the go, you share what you believe are the most important bits of natural hair care. Soon enough, when you’re confronted by the unsure and doubtful, you begin to repeat the cliché phrases ‘hair grows’, ‘anyone can grow healthy hair with care’, ‘listen to your hair’ — phrases you were told countless times when doubting your own hair’s ability to grow. Your hair behaves predictably now, so you feel free to experiment with different styles and even take it upon yourself. You finesse your hair regimen by reading articles and doing extended online research about Black hair care. People love your hair and you love your hair, especially when it behaves.
Your hair is as healthy as it’s ever been and longer than you thought it would ever be. You’re now using double the hair products and it takes hours to style and detangle your hair. You begin to dream of effortless wash days, of your hair floating away from your head leaving you with a teeny weeny afro that you can massage and rub without worrying about breakage or tangling. You love your hair, but instead of feeling empowered and in control, you feel inconvenienced and overwhelmed. You don’t want to cut your hair because you’re addicted to having long hair. You also make sure that it never comes up in conversation, because you don’t want to hear the obvious response of “Well, cut it!”, or the response you want to hear even less; “Never cut your hair”. You view your length as a personal accomplishment and a testament against myths and brain-washing. You sometimes pity yourself because you know that you dedicate more time to your hair than you should and you’re tired. But you won’t stop because you’re emotionally attached to the length.
Are you in any of these stages currently? Can you relate to being attached to your hair? Have you thought about stopping length retention so you can focus on maintenance? Given the work involved in maintaining long natural hair, do you think relaxers will make a comeback for long-haired naturals?