Yup. That was me. Freshly relaxed hair in full swing. The year was 2017 and I swore that this was the most confident I could ever be. Little did I know that things were about to change. For better or for worse?
My hair got relaxed when I was 8 years old. I was tired of being in pain and my Mom was tired of causing said pain (because combing my hair was always a struggle). At that time, relaxed hair was all the rage and people obsessed over having silky, long, smooth hair. It’s me. I’m “people”. After being fed the narrative that my natural hair was too tough and thick, I couldn’t wait to enjoy what society, at that time, viewed as beautiful. And enjoy it I did. After relaxing, my hair maintained its length and thickness and I was constantly given compliments from family and friends. However, this joy was short lived and overrated. Though it was definitely much easier to style my hair, given the straightness of it, I soon found out that I got bored with my hair. There are actually so many disadvantages of having processed hair that no one ever shared with me.
For example, no one explained to me that if I used harsh chemicals, such as the ones found in relaxers, in my hair, I would receive chemical burns on my scalp! Dealing with this at such a young age was really difficult. I had multiple scabs on my scalp for days, or sometimes more than a week and they would flake a lot. In addition, relaxing your hair for a long period can affect your thickness and growth. My hair was really long when I initially relaxed it. By 2017, I had to cut a lot of my length off, as you can see in the photo at the outset. Also, over time, I felt very artificial. I felt that I could only be beautiful if I sat in a salon chair for hours and style it professional. Whenever that style would fade, I felt ordinary and dull. By the time 2017 rolled around, I was ready for change.
I knew that going back natural was my best option. I often wondered how I would deal with the constant ‘new growth’ or learning how to comb my hair all over again. How could I abandon this artificial, “processed” life?
Braids were, and still are, my best friend! This was such an amazing way for me to embark on my journey without feeling unkept or even ‘ugly’ (by society’s standards at least). This was the first time I had ever installed braids and I was quite nervous that it wouldn’t look good. However, I am so happy that I decided to do this. I consistently braided my hair for a full year. This gave my scalp a break from all the chemicals and burns and helped my hair to grow in a healthy way. In June of 2018, I cut my relaxed ends off and decided that it was time for me to embrace my natural hair and abandon the “processed”.
It’s been a year and three months since I made that decision. People still ask me, “Would you ever process your hair again?”. I can honestly answer with a resounding ‘no’. It has never crossed my mind to do that. Going through this part of my life gave me the opportunity to truly find myself and feel the most confident I have ever been. I never thought the process of abandoning “processed” would feel this good!