Having thick, unruly Afro-Caribbean hair meant that relaxers were definitely an important part of my life growing up. Naturally, being of Afro-Caribbean heritage and having unruly hair implied chemical straightening was necessary.
I was constantly confronted with how necessary it was to relax my hair every few months. It was instilled in me that this chemical would enhance my beauty by straightening my hair and taking out the kinks would make it easier to comb and manage. However, for me, relaxers simply burnt my scalp and made my hair thinner than ever. Throughout my relaxer days I used ‘baby relaxers’ as they would call them, brands such as ‘Just for Me’ and ‘Beautiful Beginnings’ and yet these baby, softer, less intense relaxers still burnt. These chemicals should never be used on any child’s hair as it is harmful. Although many mothers are convinced that relaxer is the only way to successfully manage a child’s afro-textured hair.
I decided to stop relaxing my hair about seven years ago and this was one of the best decisions of my life. I began to realize I could have the best of both worlds naturally curly hair or straight just by getting a blowdry. There are endless options for natural hair, these days the internet is crammed with natural hair gurus providing advice and tutorials on YouTube and Instagram.
During my adolescent years, straight hair was all I wanted, desperately seeking a way to keep my hair as straight as possible and going to Afro-Caribbean hairdressers meant I would be relaxing my hair to achieve this look. Little did I know that sitting in a salon with the relaxer on my head waiting for it to burn or sting would result in beautiful straight hair will it did certainly make my hair straight, but it also left me with quite a few burns and bald spots. In the middle of my hair. Strangely enough though, with all the burns I endured it still, and it never stopped me from relaxing my hair, I continued over the years.
Finally, my older sister introduced me to the natural hair movement and managed to convince me to stop relaxing my hair. The first thing I noticed was how much less I was spending on my hair and the fact that I could swim as much as I wanted without worrying about my hair. Natural hair was a liberating experience and for the first time in my life since I was a child, I could see the natural texture of my hair. Being a naturalista is about being true to who you are and your natural state.
Self-acceptance is a very important part of being natural, many women are nervous about going natural because they are unsure if they will be able to manage their natural textures. All hair textures and patterns are beautiful. However, many today still believe looser curl patterns are more attractive that tighter, kinkier curl patterns. Straight hair is not good hair, all hair is good. Being natural means loving yourself and loving your hair, embrace it all.