I wrote an article years ago entitled, “Happy To Be Nappy.” I spoke about how much I loved shedding my chemically relaxed hair and embracing the hair that God gave me.
I was very proud of my article, but I felt an unsettling, hypocritical feeling inside. I wrote about loving my natural, kinky, coily hair, but guess what.....no one ever saw it.
I constantly wore my chemical-free hair in braids, long twists and ponytails, but my hair was buried under a mountain of extensions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing extensions mind you, but I felt that if I were proclaiming to be proud of my hair, why wasn’t I showing it to the world?
I wore extensions on and off for the past 10 years. It was incredibly easy to maintain, looked great and it was a minor luxury that I was able to afford.
In December 2011, I was laid off from my full-time job. Although I was no longer working, I continued to get my extension every 7 weeks. In late May 2012 I experienced some breakage and I decided that it was a good time to let my hair breathe and give my extensions a rest. It also would give me the chance to be myself and learn to accept my hair. Fortunately I wasn’t working, so I was free to do whatever I wanted with my mane.
The journey was not easy. I watched an innumerable amount of videos on styling natural hair and I read countless blogs on how to have healthy hair. I spent many a night writing down the products used by fellow naturals and then following it up by reading product reviews. After a couple of weeks, I felt ready and armed to attack my head of curls.
So in June 2012, I did it. I styled my own hair! As insignificant as is sounds, it was a huge achievement for me. I tried a few times in the past to tame my wild hair, but always gave up and ran back to my trusty bag of extensions. But this time was different. I washed and styled my hair and it looked great. It wasn’t perfect, but it looked good.
Even though I received compliments from my family, I was unbelievably nervous inside. I no longer had the security of hiding under my fake hair—I was exposed. Everyone was able to see all of me. I had a million questions swirling in my head—Would others treat me differently because my hair looked “different?” Would men find me attractive?” “Would I be able to find gainful employment with natural hair?” As much as I was sticking to my decision to remain natural, I was a little terrified.
So instead of running to the nearest beauty supply store and stocking up on my favourite “bag of hair”, I continued to practice taking care of my hair. Learning the proper methods to wash, comb and style my hair.
My signature look is the twistout and I love it. It looks different every single time I rock it, but it is hands down, my favourite look.
I’ve gone to barbeques, social events and dinner with my friends, and I received only the nicest feedback. I was told never to go back to my old style and to continue doing what I’m doing.
I have embraced my curls so much that I recently posted a pic of my new do on Facebook. I can’t tell you how scared I was putting “the new me” online. Within minutes I received a barrage of compliments.
I can finally say, that I am truly happy to be natural!
Michelle Joseph is a free spirited writer living in Toronto, Canada. She currently publishes The Happygrrls Blog (www.happygrrls.blogspot.com) which features entries on just about anything that makes her smile. She is currently working on a new blog- Discovering Michelle, which will feature articles on all the super cool people that she meets. Stay tuned!