By Andrea Henderson
The decision to go (or return) natural was quite by accident. I loved going to the beauty salon to let someone “deal” with my hair. However, I was getting tired of the long hours I spent there (even with a 9 AM appointment).
At that point in my life, I started to get “attached” to weaves. It did not matter which brand I bought, the stylist would gently but firmly scold me and suggest that I get something more expensive. I would sheepishly smile and say, “You DO know how much that Remy costs?” To which she would reply, “Well, you pay for what you get”. So I bit the bullet and bought two packs of Remy real braiding hair. Before I knew it, I had unknowingly transitioned for seven months! I noticed my hair was thinning and I needed to examine my real hair. I had “roots” and was excited, but I had a hard time dealing with the two textures — one straight and one curly. As I decided what to do, I had one more installment of precious Remy weave sewn in, waited a few weeks, and went to get another one put in. As I approached the salon, I noticed it was empty and a sign posted that said CLOSED FOR GOOD. I WAS SHOCKED! I called my beautician and she confirmed what I already knew. I went to another salon, but they did not know how to style my now natural hair and I was NOT getting it relaxed/texturized as they suggested.
So the next week I did a big chop! I felt liberated and terrified at the same time! I looked at endless YouTube videos and countless blogs. My husband said very little about my hair and my family was also very quiet about the matter. A few associates said some unkind words to me and most of the REAL compliments came from strangers. I was not doing this for them but for me. The person I wanted to be on board with me was my husband but he said very little only, “Oh, you are natural now”. I did not say much either.
It is one thing to have friends, co-workers, and distant associates make comments or inflict disapproving looks about your natural journey, but it is another issue altogether when it is a spouse! A few weeks ago, I attended a funeral. I was dressed in a black dress, with a black blazer, and wore my hair in mini twist with a black clip on hair rose. He said, “Oh, you are wearing your hair natural”. His tone was disapproving and I could no long stay silent as an answer. I said, in my most loving voice, “I know it is NOT the most popular look, but I am doing this for a healthier me.” I smiled, kissed him, headed out the door, and drove away. I can remember only one time since June 2012 he said my hair looked nice and that was in an old twist out with a band around it.
I realize most of us, especially SOME black men, need an education about natural hair. I do understand his temporary disappointment about not seeing me in bone straight or wavy hair (real or not). But it is still me, just with my real natural hair. My husband, family, friends, and associates may NOT understand or care about my natural journey, and they may secretly long for the days when I relaxed and weaved my hair. Maybe they think I am going through something crazy and weird, or they just cannot wrap their minds about why am I doing this; “Why doesn’t she DO something to that nappy head”, “She is just too lazy to go to the beauty shop” “Is she gay and making a statement now?”, “You need to get a relaxer or weave”, “Poor thing, she must be sick or going through something”.
I was not expecting fireworks from my husband when I did my big chop. I thought maybe he would be my personal cheerleader, wave the natural hair flag, use a megaphone and shout praises of admiration about me to the world or just to me? I may have been disillusioned just a tad to expect such things and perhaps I just wanted a kind word. Again, I realized all too quickly that wasn’t going to happen, at least, not right away if at all. I am doing this for me with or without ANYONE’S approval. I guess I wanted him to be just as pleased and excited about my new natural hair as I was but I was wrong and that is ok. All I can say: I chose to do this for a healthier me. Compliments or not, I press on in my natural hair journey.