Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tales From the Newly Natural

Guest post by Melanie Agnew Simpson

Like so many other black women, my road to hair care had been paved with a creamy, chemical substance that comes in little round, plastic tubs. From relaxers to Jheri curls, and back again, my hair hadn't seen its natural state since I put down the straightening comb at age 16. So, when I decided to ditch the chemicals and work with the hair that God gave me, I had no idea what was lurking under my latest texturizer.
When my tween daughter made the grand announcement that she wanted her hair relaxed, all I could imagine was her beautiful, wavy/curly/frizzy tresses drying out and breaking off, strand after strand after strand, leaving her — and me — with a hot damaged processed mess. Yes, hair day for us had been a nightmare from the time that she was 2. There had been tears, and yes, she had threatened to cut it all off on more than one occasion. Still, avoiding hair care hassles was no reason to rob her hair of its organic personality, causing unimaginable damage in the process. So my answer to her request was a resounding “no.” But, my reasons didn’t hold much water since I denied her wish while I was on my way to my regularly scheduled date with the man with the little round tub.

So, I decided to practice what I had been preaching, and transformed my short, sassy, chemically curly do into a more-kinky-than-curly teeny-weeny afro … and I loved it! Then came the real challenge: What now?

Caring for my processed hair had been second-nature shampoo, condition, blow-dry, toss in a little oil and a curl or two, and keep it moving. But in those first few weeks of familiarizing myself with my raw tresses, I could already tell that grooming my natural hair would take a little more knowledge, love, and attention.

Books, magazines and blogs that focused on natural hair care came to my rescue, helping me to construct and tweak a hair care regimen that gave me the results that I love. Still, with all the invaluable guidance and advice, I’ve learned that there is no "cookie cutter" method because every woman’s hair is different.

Was it difficult for me to give up my chemical dependency? Of course. Like many women, the condition and appearance of my hair was, and continues to be an important part of how I see myself. Many of the most memorable moments of my life involve some aspect of my hair — from hair wash weekends as a kid when my mother shampooed half at a time because there was just too much of it to do all at once. Still, who we are goes much deeper than our hair. We are who we are whether we choose to process our tresses or allow our naturalness to shine through. Our hair may not define us, but it certainly does enhance the beauty that we already carry within. 

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