Photo Credit: Saffa Wilkes @saffadiartistry
As a young girl, I never gave it much thought of what it meant to be natural. Yes, I had identity issues. Like many of our misled African-American youth, I looked to the European styles depicted in all forms of media to compare to myself. The media (then and now) commonly portrays this look of straight and sleek hair as the image of beauty. Looking at my tough and kinky coils, I begged and pleaded with my mother to purchase a relaxer: (“the creamy crack”). After relaxing my coils at age 10, my life drastically changed. I simply could not identify and accept myself as being beautiful, just the way I was. Much like my relaxed hair, I became conditioned to believe that my natural hair was too different than what society deemed worthy of being celebrated. This is our sad truth as Black women within a society who tells us that we must alter what we were born with to be accepted as beautiful. Living among people in a society that celebrates what I simply was not naturally, I did not know how to properly care for my own coils. I was too afraid and too self-conscious to learn. My hair before the perm was thick, yet hard at the touch. Anyone who touched my hair swore I was a chore to bear. I cried bloody murder every time someone roughly broke out a comb to part my hair. Also, I was not looking forward to the comments I became so familiar hearing about my hair like, “Your hair drinks grease, it’s so dry!” or “Girl you have that bad and nappy black people hair!” With phrases like these coming from other black women, how could I identify or associate my hair or even myself as beautiful. I was too blinded with self-hate to truly see that all my hair needed was some TLC and the proper knowledge of caring for her. Over time, it would take witnessing the severe damage I was subjecting to my hair before I built up the courage to discover the secret to unlocking the inner Queen I’d harbored inside.
My hair suffered years of wear and tear from using harmful chemicals such as the relaxer. At age 22, my hair was a limp mess. My ends were split horribly. My roots were thinning to the point that braiding along my edges would rip out strands of weakened hair. I was at a lost. As a result, I decided to research! Given my first mistake of naively diving head first into a hair situation without knowing its consequences, extreme caution was used this time around. I wanted to know the right way to nurture my hair to its natural state. I discovered the terms: BC (Big Chop), transitioning, TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro), etc. Much like other newbies to the natural world, I did not know what these terms signified. In due time, I became familiar with all three.
The Birth of a Queen…
I began the transition by ridding myself of all products that I learned were not good for my black hair. This was essential for several reasons. Over time, I became less and less vain about my hair product usage. To put it nicely, I became lazy! I loved the saying “Less is more!” Minimalism had become my way of living. I applied this “motto” to all aspects of my life including my hair. I did not want to become discouraged to properly love on my hair with all of the tips and suggestions I was getting from some naturals who did a whole lot of altering to wear their hair. I like to keep things simple. I believe that I could still achieve the gorgeous results as other Queens with natural hair without experiencing the bulk of the woes and negative connotations connected with becoming a curly girl.
With all the detangling, cleansing, moisturizing, separating, stretching, and then styling we naturals must do; it seems like a marathon listing some of the basic steps to each process of doing any style! Because of this known fact within the hair world, I’m certain most women just like me, are discouraged and afraid to become natural due to the up-keeping of our hair at its most natural state. Do not get lost in the sauce. Every curl was not created equal. All natural hair is not the same type or texture. To ALL naturals out there, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! For most of us, it seems taxing and exhausting to be a curly girl. Due to my texture, too much product can result in the ugliest twist out ever. However, another curly girl with a different type of texture may do this and have a result that is banging in comparison to my own. For my natural, less is more! I stick to my basic regimen. My tried and true methods worked to jump start and retain my hair growth. Moisture is most important in my daily routine.
On my own natural hair journey, I discovered that for me, it did not take much to show the proper love and care my hair needed and deserved. The first change I had to make was inside. Self-love needs to be present first! I channeled the energy I built to give myself more love by creating a simple regimen that I could stick to. With less hassle and expectation, I would nurture my hair and let her do her thing. My staple products (to start with) were a sulfate free shampoo, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and hair oil. That’s it! I would wash and condition my hair only and use the oil as a seal to lock in all the moisture. I continued this regimen for months before I started to notice any growth. Of course, I was turned off by the stringy straight pieces of hair that were hanging on for dear life as my budding curlies started to take form. I could not believe it. I had curly soft hair! I fell in love. I took a pair of shears and said goodbye to 3 inches of straight and chemically fried hair. A heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders as the final wisps of my past were cut away. I began to really look at myself. I loved my defined features, my pronounced eyes, full lips, all perfectly aligning with my natural hair. I felt regal. I felt free. A queen was born!
The morning after my “Big Chop” experience, admittedly, I felt naked! I felt stripped of all the false pretenses I presented to the world with the façade that I help to create. I began to find myself. I no longer wanting to conform. I wanted to find more women who looked like me. I wanted to be surrounded by our natural beauty; to be reminded that as a Black woman I always had a great image to identify with. We simply were not being presented as heavily in society as others were at our most natural state. Our Natural Queens are among us; serving up real black girl magic on a daily basis. I wanted to shed light on these Divas. I wanted to find the elegant and conscious women to celebrate them.
With the arrival of my TWA, I gravitated towards these Divas. I wanted to learn more about myself, through their journeys that they chose to share with others. The secret to understanding real growth in all aspects of your life is to seek guidance from those like-minded individuals who has sojourned on the roads before you. I soaked up their knowledge like a sponge as much as I could. The lessons bestowed upon me ranged from hair care tips, to the importance of being gentle with your spirit, back to the different techniques of caring for my type of black hair. Because of their transparency, a Diva was found!
To all my lazy naturals out there, finally, we will have an outlet to express our experiences of becoming natural, to open up the dialogue of being a lazy natural with more inspiring queens on their own natural hair journey, and overall create a new platform that truly honors all natural hair at it most natural state with little to no altering and manipulation. Lazy naturals: because you do less to show your beauty does not undermine your greatness. Lazy naturals are gorgeous and confident. There lies beauty in simplicity!