When I made my decision to go natural in 2013, I didn’t really have a choice. A DIY relaxer gone wrong my freshman year in college left me standing in a Howard University shower with large chunks of my hair in my hands instead of on my head. Even in the midst of a hair tragedy, however, I was excited to explore my hair in its natural state.
The primary reason I was optimistic was that I was in an environment that celebrated Blackness. Being surrounded by so many women who looked like me and had already embraced their natural texture made me confident that I could successfully do it too. I looked forward to joining them on the journey. Furthermore, my hair had been relaxed since I was about 7-years-old, so I had not even the slightest recollection of what my true curls looked like.
When I did finally completely transition, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. Yes, I loved how healthy and thick my hair was, but the desire to wear my hair straight really didn’t go away. For a while, I tried to fight those feelings—attempting numerous wash-and-go’s, consulting natural hair specialists—anything to feel like I was an “authentic” natural girl.
After a while, I had to do what made sense for my lifestyle and my preference, which was ultimately wearing my hair straight. I had no desire to return to relaxers, and I was proud of my new sense of hair health. Still, I felt ashamed for my decision not to wear my curls all the time.
My Journey Transitioning To Natural Hair
I went into my natural hair journey almost certain that I’d solely wear my hair in its curly state, or at least exclusively in heatless styles. I vividly remember promising myself that once I fully transitioned, I would make sure to only put heat on my hair every six months for trimming purposes only. That was optimistic. Whether relaxed or natural, it’s worth mentioning that my hair is extremely thick, and as the curls began to develop, I realized that my hair was between a 3C and 4A texture. Anyone who has transitioned to natural hair knows that the process isn’t the easiest, no matter your texture. It’s even harder the coarser your hair is as it requires more maintenance due to its kinkier texture and dries out more easily. I quickly began to realize that my hair would require more effort than previously expected and started to consider more low-maintenance options.
When I decided to wear my hair straight regularly, I began to feel guilty about it. I’d get questions like: “Why are you going natural if you’re not going to wear your hair natural?” And received pressure to keep giving it a try when frankly, I didn’t want to. Heatless perm-rods and flat-twist sets took a minimum of eight hours to dry, and my wash-and-go’s didn’t save much time either. I was losing patience, and while I absolutely loved being natural, being natural with straight hair simply made more sense.
That said, hair health always has to come first, so I slowly transitioned over to solely wearing my hair straight in weaves so that I could apply heat to extensions rather than my own hair, alleviating heat damage. I have a strict routine of sew-in extensions once a month and maintain a bi-weekly appointment in-between to wash the weave properly and tend to my leave out (the small amount of hair not tucked away under the weave) so that it doesn’t become damaged. It allows me to wear my hair styled straight without compromising the health of my natural curls in the process.
Why I Still Wear My Natural Hair Straight
The purpose of the natural hair movement is to not let your hair define you. Yet, I realized that was exactly what I was falling victim to by letting pressures to wear my natural texture all the time control me. It took me years, paired with a lot of soul-searching and input from friends, for me to finally accept that I wasn’t any less of a legitimate natural girl due to my styling preferences. Let me be very clear: I love my hair, in any state, but when it comes to what’s easiest for my lifestyle and my styling preference, it’s wearing my hair straight. I have absolutely no aversion to naturally curly hair, I don’t wear my hair straight to conform to European beauty standards, and I still think that my natural texture is beautiful. That’s what actually matters.
I write this with a bonnet and shower cap on my head, Mizani’s Coconut Souffle Light Moisturizing Treatment penetrating my strands as a deep-conditioning treatment, giving my natural hair the care it deserves. I’m preparing to yet again tuck it away in a weave and wear it styled straight just how I want to. There’s nothing wrong with it, and as long as I love myself and who I am naturally first, that’s all that matters.
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