When the above question was posed to me, I instantly had a tight, almost sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have heard it asked many times before. It has been the bases of many an argument. Friendships have broken up over this question, mothers have gone against daughters, clients have left stylists, and although some may consider myself to be a huge conspiracy theorist; I’m sure that if you looked close enough, you’d find that the country’s recent war was actually fueled by the battle between Natural vs. Relaxed hair.
Really though… I’m actually not being all that serious at this very moment, but in reality, this is a very serious question. A question that I believe the answer to actually be, “no”
There, I’ve said it. I am a 28 year old, natural curly haired woman -2.5 years running- that has once suffered the twists, turns, and burns, from immersing myself in the creamy crack, and I sit before you today, well at least my words do, saying, “No, I do NOT believe, ALL women should go natural or wear their hair in its natural state and forgo a relaxer.” …and I do have my reasons, so please… kick back, close that jaw that’s been hanging agape for the past 30 seconds of you reading this, and hear me out. If you are thinking of going natural, I would really take some time to ask yourself the following 5 questions first, before deciding to jump into unknown territory. Afterwards, you may realize that going natural, just isn’t the route for you.
1. Are you ready for the journey? “Nobody told me the road would be easy…” That is something I told myself frequently during the transitioning phase of my natural hair journey, and I’m sure there is a round of “Amens” echoing across the country in agreement. If you are considering going natural, and truly don’t know if it is the right choice, ask yourself if you are ready to commit to many of the issues that you’ll probably experience. Are you ready to deal with two textures of hair at once…if not, are you read to Big Chop? Are you confident enough to rock a baldy or TWA (Teenie Weenie Afro)? These are questions that you have to answer. Not everyone is equipped emotionally to take on such a lifestyle change… and believe me, it is a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. So ask and answer yourself honestly… “Do I have the time, energy, and diligent nature, to completely go natural and maintain my hair thereafter?”
2. Is the state of your hair’s health important to you? You must take care of your hair. Throwing it into a tangled ponytail daily, whether it is relaxed or natural, may yield results of you finding tiny broken hairs in your bathroom sink. Like Del Sandeen states, “… chemical-free [hair] doesn’t automatically make it healthy. Dryness and brittleness can result from lack of conditioning or too much protein. If you think natural hair doesn’t need regular care, then rethink your decision to be natural.” As Sandeen explains, natural hair needs regular care to maintain a healthy state. Just merely labeling it, “natural” does not equate to, “healthy”.
3.Is wearing your hair straight 100% of the time something you are interested in? There are many different textures of natural hair. While some have loose textured curls, others have tightly coiled locks. Many natural haired women do keep their hair pressed out or flat ironed straight, but please know that it does take a certain level of dedication to straighten as soon as you experience new growth. Del Sandeens article, “Don’t go natural if…” explains, if your goal is to forgo chemicals, to reduce damage, that’s great. Yet, if the first hint of coiled new growth throws you into an angry rage and you spend the majority of your natural life straightening your locks, then really…why are you going through all of the fuss? ‘What’s the point?
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4. Do you have the time and patience to maintain natural hair? I have heard from many women, that having straight relaxed hair is the easiest way for them to manage their styles. Therefore, you have to ask yourself, “What routine will be easiest for me to maintain on a daily bases?” My opinioned conclusion is…Anything can be easy, if you understand it. For example, many of my friends, like myself have been raised their entire lives with relaxed hair. They know how to bump and curl, blow out and flat iron, and the exact things to do to get desired results on their relaxed hair. Likewise, if you are ready to learn the ropes of your newly natural hair, the maintenance will become easier as you gain knowledge of your new hair and get into a routine. Youtube Natural Hair blogging sensation Kimmaytube says it best,
“The most gratifying part of this journey has been mastering my own hair. My hair is no longer a mystery to me. I know exactly what to do with it to get the desired results. So I remain consistent with my weekly routine and I focus on other things in my life.” [via: Kim Love, Youtube: My Hair Growth Journey Volume 6,]
5. How much do you love yourself? I hope your answer to this question is along the lines of, “A LOT!” Loving who YOU are is so important. My personal tip is, don’t go natural or start wearing your hair curly, just because Sally Sue from work is doing it and it looks cute. Proudly wear your straight relaxed hair, like Sally Sue proudly rocks her curly fro. Don’t try to be someone else for the sake of trend or looking cool. Love yourself. Be yourself… and watch the rest just fall into place!
words by: Renee Alise Simons
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