Why It Took Me Two Years to Go Natural

Four years ago, I went natural in May, 2012. Wow. That long? It wasn’t a spur on the moment thing. It took me two years to go natural! Why? Because I had skewed misconceptions in my head, probably the same as you have right now, or the ones you had.

Since then, I’ve been on my natural hair journey with its ups and downs. I meet people who tell me they love my hair and would love to be natural but absolutely cannot try it for themselves for one reason or another. I tell them that they’re wrong but I don’t push it because, it’s a process. When you’re ready, you’re ready.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step and on this particular journey, I believe the first step has to be taken in your mind, truly saying “YES” in your heart, deciding to start.

So. What are/were your fears about going natural? I want you to tell me, so I’ll share mine.

It took me 2 years to go natural because I thought:

I’ll be ugly.

What is ugly? I personally do not like the word “ugly”. If you call someone ugly, I’d love to see you create a human being!!

Despite how I feel about the word “ugly”, I haven’t always felt comfortable (and this is putting it mildly) with my body and my features. I rejected the word outwardly, but it didn’t stop me from feeling like it inside.

After many days of mental tossing and turning, I finally came to the point where I told myself that if I wanted to put a bag over my face after the big chop, then I was never really cool with my face anyway; and that my face was forever going to be my face so I might as well get used to it.

I accepted that I would look different than I was used to and that different was good. Weaves can be glamorous but my beauty is not in the weave and neither is yours.

Viola-Davis-Covers-Essence-2013

And if the boys don’t like natural hair?

This one is like the twin of the first one. I didn’t want to admit this at all because I didn’t want to feel shallow and also because I knew that the only beholder where any measure of my own beauty should matter was me. Don’t roll your eyes. It’s true. Decide on your own standard of beauty and let everything follow.

If this is one of your fears, see: Going Natural with Bae

Decide on your own standard of beauty and let everything follow. Click To Tweet

If thoughts of going natural are giving you a headache, don’t feel bad, or shallow. It’s a process. See it as an invitation to ascend to a higher level of self-love and self-acceptance. Take your time. When you’re ready, you’ll be ready and best believe you’re your natural hair will continue to bring the boys to the yard. Even more sef. 😉

I Don’t Have The Natural Hair Face or Shape of Head.

This is another way of saying Natural Hair Is Not For Everyone.

Your Natural hair is you, boo. It is what you are, what you were and relaxer cannot penetrate your DNA to change that. It is how you were born. There is no such thing as ONE face or ONE shape of head for natural Afro hair. Take this from someone who knows.

Knowing that I didn’t have Amber Rose’s head, I read all the articles Google had to offer about choosing the right cut for your shape of face.

Amber Rose

First, I had to find out what my shape of face was. Of course, I did the measuring thing- measured the dimensions of my forehead, the space between my eyes, etc- I eliminated Round, Diamond and Heart Shapes- for a long time, I was stuck on whether my face was Oblong or oval or square faced. Finally, I concluded that my face was Oblong.

Did that solve the problem? NO. These articles were written by women not of African origin, with hair different than I hoped to have. These articles would only make sense if I were to decide what style to cut my weave in. They were definitely NOT written in contemplation of your kinky crown.

So what about the afro then? As a proud owner of one for four years now, who has looked at like a thousand different photos for inspiration and also seen many many many fro bearers in the flesh, I can tell you this- it fits us all. Small head, big head. It does, and it’s true. There is NO Natural hair face or shape of head. Or should I say ALL our faces and shapes are natural hair faces and shapes!

And when you feel this way, remember that this fear is not really about your kinky-curly hair. It’s a greater fear of short hair. Except you want to keep it at a short length, your hair will grow and you’ll be happy stretching and styling in amazing ways you didn’t previously think possible.

Honestly, I am yet to see anyone that doesn’t look better with her kinky hair.

I’ll look like a boy.

This one crossed my mind, but it wasn’t something I dwelt on. Our hair we are told is our feminine crown and glory. To this I say, welllll your hair isn’t what makes you a woman. And long hair doesn’t make a man any less of a man.

4C Natural Hair Afro- After 8 Months of Transitioning

Ever heard the term Androgynous? Have fun exploring Androgynous looks/fashion and to get you feeling all flowery and feminine again, have fun exploring your features, playing with makeup (new lipstick anyone?) and switching up your accessories. You’ll be fine. 🙂

I’ll look like a child.

Ah. This was a big one for me. Embrace it though- sweet 16 innit? Again, makeup and accessories can make a big difference.

My Hair Is Too Stubborn.

This one flew right out of the window pretty quickly. Having no natural women in my life to look at, I found plenty on the internet going steady with hair similar looking to mine. I was determined to be like them, to learn what they knew.

My hair is as kinky as kinky could possibly be. It took years of applying relaxers for my hair to finally start yielding like it was supposed to. That’s the kind of stubborn I’m talking about. One time, in my (then) new yielding stage, I sat in the chair for extra time though I knew my hair was burning because I saw that it hadn’t relaxed and I just needed it to. When I couldn’t take it any longer, and my hairdresser was actually getting worried, I had it washed off and the hair was just there like laughing at me. No show.

So when people feel my hair now and they’re like “oh, it’s so soft, my own hair can’t be like this, it’s too stubborn”, I’d love to sit with them and explain how stubborn my own hair really is. I know, you feel your hair is the most stubborn hair on the planet and you can drag your mother to the stand to witness, but I can objectively tell you that I am (or should I say I was?) also a main guy in this department.

Related: The secret to soft hair? Deep Conditioning

No hair is too stubborn for love and gentle care. With time, consistency and the right care, your hair will respond. Your hair can be soft, your hair can grow, your hair can be a lovely pillow or stick of yummy kinky candy floss.

Natural Hair Is Unprofessional

With all hair textures, there are styles considered professional and styles that just aren’t. For instance, Hot Pink hair in any formal establishment is just odd.

BUT your hair isn’t unprofessional SIMPLY BECAUSE it’s kinky. This is how you were made so who is to tell you that your hair just being itself is unprofessional? In essence, you were born unprofessional? Where were you naturally born to work then? See how this doesn’t make any sense? So many rules exist in this world and you just have to sometimes ask yourself why. Who makes these rules?

Source: BuzzFeed. Nivea had to apologise and withdraw this Ad.
Source: BuzzFeed. Nivea had to apologise and withdraw this obnoxious Ad. I wonder how it got approval from them in the first place!

I have natural hair and I work in a formal environment. I know many people who do. Some people WILL feel some type of way about your hair at work, but they will deal. Styling can also be a challenge, I’m still trying to master it, but just know that natural hair is not unprofessional. If you need to sue somebody, holler at me! JK. JK.

So. I’m done now. Over to you! If you’re natural now, were you afraid before you made the change? Are you thinking about going natural? What fears are you experiencing? Let’s talk some more 🙂

Love,

AB

xx

P.S. You should see our simple beginner’s guide to ‘Going Back to Natural’ HERE

20 thoughts on “Why It Took Me Two Years to Go Natural

  1. A corper friend introduced me to healthy hair journey during my NYSC in 2014. By March 2015, I decided to go natural (taking the transitioning route). I was quite fine with the idea cos I didn’t set a specific length of transition period. However, when I went home after the youth service, my mom and sister criticized the hair due to not having neat edges also accused me of being hair obsessed. I deflected their words quite alright but it contributed to my impatience with my hair when it seemed to be stuck and I was overcome with the need for length. And I relapsed at 9months post relaxer. March 2016, I regained my courage and stopped the relaxer applications and decided to flat iron whenever I feel the need to see length. 11months later I bigchopped on a whim.
    My fears were shape of head(I was the child with the big head. Friends and relatives teased me often), ugliness, plain insecurity about having short hair (which made me decide to transition in the first place) and inexperience with natural hair. But with the natural hair blogs I frequent, I’ve been able to get more knowledge and adopt the healthy hair mindset.

    1. Hey Annabel!
      Thanks for sharing with us. Your journey is kind of similar to mine.
      The healthy hair journey has its ups and downs, but with the right mindset that you have now, you are up to the task!
      And if you ever need encouragement, we are here for you ^__^

  2. What I was scared of was looking like a child. I’m 21 but if you see me without makeup you’d swear that I’m 14 or 15 and there are some days a girl just does not feel like putting on makeup. I just had to suck it up and big chop because with me it’s go big or go home. There are still some days I get angry when people think I’m still in secondary school but I do not regret my decision.

    1. Go big or go home!
      That’s the spirit, girl! 🙂
      Don’t worry about it, really. In a matter of years, your baby face will be an asset!
      More happy hair days
      x

  3. Afrikan butterfly….thanks a whole lot for this post. The part where u talked about ppl appreciating your soft hair now not knowing wat love it has been thru is totally my story. I actually went natural cos I was tired of paying so much (40-60 quid) to get my hair retouched. As at that time I didn’t even know there was a “natural hair movement” going on….lol. After 5 months of transitioning I completely cut off the relaxed part mainly cos I couldn’t handle the different textures of the hair. My frds wer shocked but at the same time loved it. Then I was faced with my very wonderfully tuff kinky hair. But its been 33months now n I’m sooooo loving my hair. About 5 ppl have chopped der relaxed hair cos of mine….lol. I love that I’m an inspiration to a lot of ppl. And did I have any fears about going natural….ABSOLUTELY NONE!!!
    Pls if I may ask….the picture in the post, is that you? If yes, I wish I could give u 24 strokes of koboko for ever feeling ugly. Girl, That thought came from d deepest part of hell. I’m glad that mindset is gone now.

  4. I would say that my fear of the BC is based on experience. The first time I went natural, I did the big chop and I never saw my hair that short before. I didn’t really take any pictures (I’m not much of a picture person anyway). This time, I want to try a different path so I decided to transition to get a bit of length. Right now, I’m at a year post relaxer. I hope to make it to 18 months.

  5. Thanks so much for this!.My hair was the kinkiest and hardest of all,it literally breaks combs. But here I am,thanks to all the love I am showing my hair,my hair is now soft and moisturized.It’s your hair,it grows out of your head so why not rock it.

  6. :). That’s actually the reason why I started the blog. To document my journey and talk about the things that matter to me; my hair being one of them :D.

    Thanks for the best wishes :).

  7. Hmmm. Well, in my case, I usually stretch out my relaxers. Read some books, visited some sites and chatted with some friends and I made the decision to transition to natural hair. I’m still in the early stages of my transition (five months in), but I’m loving the process so far :D.

    Nope. I won’t be doing a big chop. Not because I’m scared that it won’t fit my face, etc (I secretly think I will be able to rock the bald look or the TWA), but because I sat down and had a conversation with myself about which natural hair journey method I wanted to go with (I tend to do that a lot. That was how I crossed over from law to Communication and Language Arts before filling in my DE form after finishing A’Levels), and I decided that I wanted to do the long term transition. And when I mean long, I mean 30 months long. Lol. I want to learn my hair, enjoy it, start practising styling it, loving the way the kinks are growing. I love my relaxed ends, not because they’re straighter, but because like my natural texture, they are a part of me. Their basic structure has changed through no fault of their own, but rather because I made the decision to change that. So I still love them, because they’re strong, healthy and have been good to me,even when I wasn’t so good to them, and I fully intend to pamper them, even as I slowly trim them away to make way for my relaxed ends.

    So, what terrifies me about going natural? The fear that someone I care about would look at me and say they hate my hair. Will that keep me from going natural? Hell no! I am invested in having healthy (natural) hair, on a healthy body with a healthy mind and soul. Those who ‘love’ me, would have to know that all these parts, make me who I am. You either take it, or you leave it. Shikena ;).

    1. 30 months wow!
      Clearly, you’re a very determined person who means every single bit of it!! I wish you well on your journey to Healthy Everything! 🙂 I hope you share bits of your long-term transition on your blog. It’d be very helpful to many.
      Thanks for the comment,
      x

  8. My fear is maintaining it out most of the time. But I’m looking for a way to keep my hair out most of the time without it taking my time because my hairline is suffering atm so I need to let it rest

  9. I had my BC abt 3weeks runnin now,i bought a kinky curly leave in conditioner n it’s shampoo.I have this mixture in a spray bottle (Water,olive oil n a little leave in conditioner) which I spray on everyday.i also use a kinky curly custard which I apply 3-4 days interval.ok now I need you to advise me on what cream I shuld use for my hair it’s a 4b I think.Also what I can use to enhance the growth if there’s any.Thank you

    1. I think it’s important to try to keep your hair routine very simple and not go overboard with products. You have a leave-in, and Kinky-Curly is a good brand, so that’s your hair cream 🙂

      When I used Jamaican Black Castor Oil on my hair, I noticed that my hair grew a little more quickly. See my growth in pictures here, http://www.thekinkandi.com/2013/09/07/on-growth-and-growing/ and if you think it’s worth trying, I say you should! 🙂

  10. Hello Afrikan Butterfly,

    Absolutely love your post!!!! Down to earth ,so true and fantastic reasoning.

    I love your hair, just beautiful, shows that you have taken your time to take very good care of it!!

    Will send your link to my transitioning auntie whom for years has tried to go natural but can’t, I truly think this will help her to do it!!!

    So thank you very much, know it must have taken a lot of work to get this post up, but all of us really appreciate it.

    Will be checking daily for goodies. Thanks a mil and keep rocking that hair!!!

    Smiles!!!!!!!!

  11. Cutting my hair to go natural want difficult.
    The problem now is to loc my hair. after days & weeks of deliberation, I finally decided to. I’m getting it done on Thursday.

    My biggest fear was the shape of my face “not working” or guys not liking my hair but ain’t nobody got time for that

  12. In that sense, I’m a bit of a coward too 🙂 I cut my hair because I moved to a new city and started a new job, so I wouldn’t have all that pressure of people who knew me with long hair going, “Ah! You look weird.”

    Be that as it may, the day I was doing my big chop (at a men’s barbing salon, no less) an older man reproved me saying, “Na today your ugliness start (You just got ugly).” I was with my sister who found it hilarious, and we still laugh over it today.

    And I was single. If I was in a relationship, would I have cut my hair? I don’t know. But the first time I mentioned going natural to a guy whose opinion really mattered to me, he told me that I would look fabulous and exotic. So in a sense, I was working with that too.

    I also toyed with the option of transitioning till my natural hair was long (at least 2 years or more). But then I asked myself, “Won’t it be cool to be brave enough to cut your hair now that you’re young so that you have pictures to show your kids and reminisce over? Do you really want to be that woman who wasn’t brave enough to even cut her hair?” And so I transitioned for only 4 months, and got my hair cut in a high fade. And I loved it. I made so many new friends, lol! I was so different, people would just walk over and start a conversation. It made me more approachable.

    I’ve been fully natural for 18 months now, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

    phew. Long comment!

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