I was standing in front of the mirror and staring at my new growth. I had just washed my hair. It was dark, shiny and was trying to hold a wave except my straight hair wouldn’t let it. My straight hair was now hopeless. It just surrounded my head like a thin halo and this new hair was so thick and alive and wanted to be free.
I took the scissors and started snipping. I’d never had short hair but I wasn’t scared. It seemed like the right thing to do. Why keep all that straight hair and forcibly flat iron the life out of my curly hair just to match the straight hair for day or two until I hit the track. Why wear head wraps to cover up messy hair or keep my hair straight when the curly hair was willing to work.
The first reactions were shrieks of terror from my sister-in-law at the time. She announced to my brother that I had cut off all my hair. I don’t remember much else from that moment except feeling proud of myself. I somehow figured out how to do finger coils with World of Curls gel and I was on my way.
If I had know that my world was so ready for my curly hair I would have done it sooner. Everywhere I went I got compliments. I got compliments from men and women of different races and lots of questions about how I got my hair to do what it was doing. I just told them it was like that. It was a shock to me too.
The comparisons began…Macy gray, Lauryn Hill, Tracy Chapman…
When I first went natural at the tail end of the 90’s I had just gotten a computer and the internet was new to me. There were no tutorials on how to get styles or care for my hair. YouTube hadn’t even started yet. I was one of a few naturals at my University and had a couple of natural haired friends. My role models were a few magazine photographs and major stars like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and eventually Jill Scott.
As time went on more Neo soul artists were sporting fro’s and I was feelin’ myself. My friends and I were embracing our naturalness. India Arie was singing about loving herself and we were all with her.
I experimented with different mini braided styles and finger coils and when all else would fail I’d slap my extensions back in. After all, braided styles were trending. Corn rows were sported in rap to R and B videos.
For my 22nd birthday my friends surprised me and took me to a Jill Scott and Eryka Badu concert. It was so much fun. There were so many naturals in the building. It was a naturalista heaven.
The ongoing problem was…
I never really learned how to take care of my hair. I didn’t know anything about it. All I cared about was style. As it grew I kept looking for an easy way out. I started wearing afro puffs with big hoop earrings and blowing out my hair to get a larger afro. It just seemed like so much work and my hair would feel so dry and my scalp would hurt the next day. Even though my hair was dry…I felt like I was always greasy. I wanted an easy way to get my fro bigger without having to wait for it to grow longer and without having to blow dry the hell out of the shrinkage that would occur every time it got wet. I had a GREAT idea… TEXTURIZER!
To be continued… Monday