When I went natural I didn’t think anything about me would change other than my hair. I naively thought it was *only* about my hair. As you may know, I transitioned for 14 months, the longest 14 months of my life. During that time I struggled with breakage at my demarcation line (the point where the relaxed and natural hair meet) and had trouble finding cute hairstyles and smelling like shea butter allll the time (lol that’s all I used to twist). But, possibly even harder, was having to deal with questions, comments and stares from friends, family members and perfect strangers.
Looking back, I wish I had a stronger sense of my (natural hair) self when certain comments were made and questions asked. I would have been quicker with my witty, sarcastic responses. I think when you go natural you, unfortunately, must be prepared for people to treat you differently – whether good or bad. Sometimes I wish I had mentally prepared for my new identity as much as I had physically prepared for it.
Here are some tips on how to keep a strong sense of self:
- Seek advice from experienced naturals. If you don’t know any, email your favorite blogger or vlogger or post a general question in a natural hair group or forum.
- Do what makes YOU comfortable. For me it was a long transition and that was MY prerogative. A lot of people questioned me along the way, I thanked them and continued transitioning. Lol.
- Ask for advice from a family member or close friend who will be honest but GENTLE. Until you’ve built up self-confidence and found your go-to styles, you might try something out and not be sure if it’s flattering or not. Ask for help but make sure the person will use uplifting words even if the style is not appealing.
- Don’t ask for advice from tons of people. You will get tons of opinions which is what you don’t need. All you need is the honest opinion of a few people who are close to you.
- “Play up” other things. If you like a certain feature like your eyes, experiment with different eye makeup looks. It will give you the boost of confidence you might be lacking, especially if you big chopped and/or are unsure of your new look. Accessories are also a nice way to experiment with hair.
Now that I’ve been natural for three and a half years I’ve pretty much heard it all so I’m very comfortable in my own skin and hair. In the picture above I was leaving a curlBOX + Ouidad event, I had my hair out and I was rocking a natural hair t-shirt. There was a point when I wasn’t confident enough to do this. Believe it or not in 2013 I still get funny looks living in NY. But, it took me a little time to get to this point. Even to this day I have a family member who still says the nastiest things about my hair and even posts things on my Facebook wall. To which I respond “So what?” Ultimately, that person clearly has issues, not me. I just continue to pray for them.
What have been your [natural] hair struggles and obstacles? How did you overcome them? What are you still working on?