When I decided to go natural with my hair I was 19 years old. It was the 90′s, and at that time not very many women were giving up the relaxers for a more Afrocentric look. I remember it being frowned upon by huge numbers of black women and men alike. Statements like “You’ll never get a decent job with your hair like that”, or “what are you some kind of hippie?” come to mind when I think back on this. It was a scary experience for me not because I wanted acceptance, but because I was stepping out and doing something different and didn’t have the proper information on how to do it and get it right. There was no turning back and giving into the creamy crack, as some call it, if my hair didn’t behave the way I wanted. There wasn’t an abundance of information for us few “natural-istas” back then, so we had to pretty much work on trial and error (not a welcoming thought when you’re talking about hair. Hair is a sensitive subject in the black female community). I was told that I would have to start from scratch and cut my then, “Halle Berry” cut even shorter to achieve this more provincial look. No sweat, I think I can rock a “Jada Pinkett- set-it-off” look, and cut I did. I loved the style at first because I could rub my head and felt it’s smooth fuzzy texture. Being a mom of a little girl, I saved lots of time not having to do my hair, leaving me loads of time to concentrate on hers. I rocked that short cut in different colors for about a year when I started to miss my hair.
When I decided to grow it out, I had trouble finding products to accommodate my new style. My hair was too short to catch a braid and hold onto it, but too long to just get up and go out with. I was stuck. I wore scarves for a brief time till I got a little more length and quickly put in micro-braids (thank God my hair grows fast). I started to look around for anything that would help me in my natural hair care quests when I came across a book by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner called “Good Hair- For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Weaves When The Chemicals Became Too Rough”. I know that’s a long title, but It’s a small book and a great read. It gave me an insight on this woman’s struggles herself, and I no longer felt alone in the struggle. I still wasn’t able to find good products even the ones mentioned in her book were hard to find at times. But I learned to “wet set” my hair through that book. I have to say that I didn’t exactly follow the book when it came to some things though. When I entered “Corporate America” I graduated from braided extensions to THE WEAVE! The weave worked wonders for me. I was able to let my hair rest for periods of time while I continue to search for salons that cater to the natural woman and search for the right product. Now searching for a salon is a huge fete for me because I don’t like anyone in my hair. The experiences I had were not desirable and I don’t like putting my trust in anybody when it comes to my tresses. No matter what the style, I always did it myself (even that Halle Berry cut. I got “mad skills”).
Today, there are an array of product flooding the market for we “natural-istas” to help us make it easier (or so I think). There are so many products how can one choose? Should I try out each and every one to see what’s the right fit? That would be a very costly experiment and I definitely don’t have the money for that. Speaking of money, That’s my second problem. I found that the good stuff that works on my hair and my daughter’s heads is way too expensive per 8oz. jar (WTF?) I think that now that we African Americans have cornered the market on hair care, shouldn’t we (they) lower the price for us Frugal–istas (Just a thought)?
One thing I can say is, I see an insurgence of women who choose to “go natural” and I feel comforted that we, like our fore-mothers before us, are becoming a “movement”. Like the ’60′s and ’70′s, the natural (afro) was not only a style, but a way of life. It began as a form of blacks accepting who they were and not conforming to what “The Man” often told us was beauty. It was a way for our people to accept our unique-ness and our natural beauty. This time, I seriously doubt it to be a fad. Women like myself seek a deeper meaning for accepting this natural way of life and we choose to express this not only our hair but in the way we dress, the way we eat, and the way we address one another and the way we love. We also pass these notions of natural -vs- straight hair, good -vs- bad hair onto our offspring. Now if you call that being a hippie, Then I guess that’s how you can describe me, naturally.