They say it’s just hair

On June 6, 1995 I made a decision that has changed my life for the past 13 plus years. On that day I sat in a beauticians chair and chemically altered my hair for the first time. It was two days before my high school graduation and to mark my transition into adult life I thought it was appropriate to transition from what I at the time considered to be baby hair to the grown up world of relaxers. I was probably the last of my peers to make this transition so I felt like it was a long overdue rite of passage that I was no longer being denied.

Fastforward almost 14 years and I barely remember what my naural hair texture is. 

When I was growing up the the deep and dirty south I was taught to believe that straight  was the right way to wear your hair…so by the time I was a pre-teen I was suffering through same the bi-weekly ritual that most black have girls suffered through at some point….. the dreaded pressing chair.

the hair identity crisis starts early

the hair identity crisis starts early

I believed that the only way to wear my hair was straight even though the hair that grew out of my head clearly was not straight. So I suffered through the bondage of burning hair grease in a smoky kitchen every two weeks just so I could enjoy about 24 hours of straight silky hair. And that was in the winter time. In the summer it was so hot and humid in Mobile that all that effort usually went to waste within 45 minutes of stepping out the door.  

The day I got my first relaxer I left the hair dresser feeling free. Finally I could wear my hair down for more than one day. When I walked in to graduation rehearsal the day after I got my first perm a couple of my classmates were in awe of my long straight newly permed hair. Most of them had only seen me with my hair pulled back into a pony tail.

creamy crack application

creamy crack application

Of course the reality was that I wasn’t really freed that day. I only traded one form of bondage for another. Now instead of a bi-weekly holding my ear and trying not to jump when I felt the heat off the comb bondange, I was in creamy crack application every 6-8 weeks bondage.  All because I still believed the only way to wear my hair was straight.


After all of these years of textural alteration I would love to just go back to my roots and reacquaint myself with my natural hair texture.  Unfortunately a relaxer isn’t something that you can just reverse. To go natural I would have to either wait for enough new growth to come in and cut off all of the relaxed hair and go short, or I could keep the relaxed hair and press the natural hair until I have enough natural hair to cut off the relaxer. But either way it requires cutting off the relaxed hair and some wait time. Unless I shave my head…which is a non option.

I have numerous issues to overcome before I can take the plunge into naturaldom.

1) I don’t know how to take care of my natural hair. The last time my hair was truly natural (i.e. not getting pressed or permed) I was in elementary school wearing plaits.

2)  My mom and most of Alabama thinks its a little radical to wear natural hair….I know…that sounds a little crazy if you live in a more progressive area….why would wearing your hair the way it grows out of your head be radical….but in Alabama they haven’t quite embraced the natural thing yet….  my mom of course was the main one who didn’t want me to get a perm in the first place…right behind my grandmothers…neither of whom have relaxers…wearing my hair natural might be the first “radical” thing I do….if I do it….hmmm 

3) What if I go to the trouble to go natural then get bored and miss my straight hair…would that mean I don’t love myself or something?

4) I’m really afraid of cutting my hair short so I’d have to go with option B and do a gradual transition. But what if the hair at the point where I have two textures is weak and breaks and I’m forced to cut my hair short….and then I discover that I look like a 13 year old boy with short hair…and then instead of getting approached by attractive eligible guys I get approached by gay pedofiles….I’m tripping I know but it could happen!

Aside from all my issues I’m probably a perfect candidate for natural hair since I don’t like styling my hair, and I’ve never really taken full advantage of all the things you can do with permed hair anyway. I guess I need the right hair dresser who can teach me how to properly care for my hair to give me the push. Of course I would imagine that most hair dressers would have little incentive to push anyone to abandon expensive chemical treatments every 6-8 weeks. So what’s a girl to do?

There must be a support group or something I can join…Any advice????

4 Responses to “They say it’s just hair”

  1. blissfullsolutions Says:

    well roommate…as a woman who has made this journey…AND is from a place that sees wearing natural hair as crazy…

    i understand

    each and every ONE of your concerns

    and as much as you hate doing your hair i think you’d LOVE havin locs

    but that’s for later…waaaaaaaaaaaay later…

    1. you don’t have to do it all at once…just like you said…you can go natural gradually…my mom did it…she had twists put in her hair and she did that while she grew it out and then she locked it…

    all of that to say…some kind of extensions might give you the help you need to transition more painlessly

    2. and this is just a thought…because i started out kind of short…i learned what to do with my hair gradually…not that i’m recommending baldness like i did it…but if you grow it out to say…mmmm so that when you make a ponytail only the hair in the ponytail is what’s relaxed…if you cut it from then you’d have a truly respectable afro…afros are easy…

    you just put it into about 4 plaits at night take em down in the morning and pick it out…wear with scarfy headband thing or not…i think you’d be cute with a bushy fro…

    if you get tired of having kinky hair…straighten it or perm it again…


    it’s whateva…you’re an artist…your body…on some level is a canvas.

    i went back and forth alot before i decided to take the plunge…ion’t know if i talked about it alot but i did…

    i even remember asking my brother if he’d still love me if i went natural…cause i thought i might be an embarassment to my entire family etc. etc.

    i feel like i’m babbling now…but yeah…mmmhm

    i hear you and i understand

    and you will make the absolute most perfect decision for you
    cause you’re pretty darned smart!

  2. moonstillwater Says:

    Sister I feel your emotions. the natural transition can be tough but in the long run……it is better for our psyche and health. My biggest issues were finding natural products. I found some on the web recently and they work pretty well so far. the site is Its like a spray and an oil that goes with it.

    Check it out. I know it has helped me. Stay Natural and Beautiful,


  3. I am on this journey myself, and I’m taking it as gradually as possible. I’m doing this because my hair (well I have a “Hole” in my head) that is what I call it, in the top of my head i have a nice size bald spot (or very very thin area) so much that I have to do comb overs with most every style I wish to wear. So I started relaxing around it and not in/on that area. Then I noticed growth there it’s actually growing there since I haven’t permed it. So I’ve not permed my hair in a little while now just been wearing my wigs and washing and going. This weekend I’m going to have my mom press it out for me and that is the route I’m taking have her clip my ends and press my hair out and I plan to do that once a week or every other week. And making sure I keep some type of oil on my hair and scalp in hopes of preventing breakage, I’m going “natural” this way, and am hoping for the best.

  4. hester perryman el Says:

    proud to be Allah Natural!

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