I’ve Been Here Before. . .
Accidental Natural Hair Journey
I’ve been wearing natural hair since June 7, 2007. But that wasn’t the first time I went natural.
I became an accidental natural in March 2004.
On Thanksgiving Day 2003, I was in the shop getting my hair braided. To be open on a holiday, those braiders were not thinking about turkey and dressing, it was all about raking in that moolah. My last relaxer was probably September 2003? This was my first time ever having my hair braided with extensions.
Now I’ve spent time waiting in a beauty salon before but this process took over 8 hours! But I loved the results. I still don’t know all the different types of braids: box, singles and individuals but I think I got micro braids that day.
Fast forward to Spring Break 2004, some co-workers and members of my family were going on a 7-day cruise from New Orleans aboard the newly renovated ship, The Carnival Conquest. The ports of call were The Grand Cayman | Cozumel, Mexico and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Four months passed quickly and my hair was at that stage where it was almost time to take it down but since the vacation was right around the corner, why not just wait. I did not want to sit another 8 hours!
I managed to keep my hair “on” but that new growth was peeking through all over. It was like a mini Afro puff underneath but I loved it. I was also becoming fascinated by the new growth and what it looked like. It was mid-March 2004 and my last relaxer was in September 2003. 6 months.
The cruise was fabulous and the next weekend, it was time to take down the braids. I thought about just snipping off each individual braid and deal with what was left!
But I began the dreaded (absolutely no pun intended) process of the take down. I started by clipping off as much length from the extensions as close to what I perceived to be the ends of my hair. I shampooed and conditioned my hair with the black woman’s miracle in a bottle, Cream of Nature shampoo. Afterwards, I took a rat-tail comb and separated my hair from the extensions. Then I detangled each strand as I went. This went on for what seemed like hours. There must have been hundreds of micros and coupled with the shed permed & two-textured hair, knots and tangles, the process got old very fast. I had only taken down the back and sides of my hair. There was still so much to deal with.
I had a brilliant idea. Since Cream of Nature always smoothed out my hair, why didn’t I just shampoo again? The wrong answer! It became a horrible knotted mess to end all disasters. I could barely get the comb through the previously taken down hair and the braided hair became more matted. I had these twigs hanging from my head atop a mass of new growth. I’m actually pretty happy that I did not have a camera around at the time. I was not in a picture-snapping mood. I had to work the next day!
Of course you’ve got to know that I was frustrated. I could think of only one solution and that was to cut it off. It sounded better to me as the minutes passed. I told my friend of my plans and he instantly told me that my mother was going to kill me. Well, I was pretty grown and at that moment, I wasn’t scared of my Mama. I was more concerned about the bird’s nest perched on top of my head. It was similar to the moment in Waiting to Exhale when Bernadine wanted Gloria to cut her hair. Either he was going to cut it or I was going to cut it my darn self. He obliged but could not fathom a woman cutting off her hair. I guess hair was still crowning glory to most men.
I transitioned for 10 months. My June 11, 2007 big chop made my 4th time being natural. I forgot about the time I cut off my relaxer to get a Jherri Curl. Being natural is unique for everyone. But being mentally prepared is perhaps the most common experience. Natural hair has grown in popularity and it may not be for everybody. Some people embark on this journey for the wrong reason and end up relaxing their hair. But for me, I am no longer The Accidental Natural. I am natural on purpose – and it’s Nappylicious!