• Jena

A Step Back and a Step Forward

Updated: Feb 12, 2020

I've forgotten how long ago it was that I decided to stop using chemical relaxers in my hair. I do remember the day that I decided to chop off all the straight pieces and finally try letting my hair be what it was instead of trying to wrestle it into submission with the use of chemicals, straightening combs, and flat irons. I have to admit: I definitely had a different idea of what my hair would look like sans relaxer than what it actually turned out to be. I imagined a head full of medium-sized, bouncy, soft curls and was initially disappointed when I did my first wash and go and my hair dried into a frizzy, amorphous puff. "But...the video said to just wash my hair and shake it out into gorgeous curls!" I'd huff.

Some years later, I've begun to accept my hair and myself. Sure, there have been times when, nearly in tears from the hours I've spent detangling it after wearing braids or leaving twists in too long, I've thought about shaving it all off, like Sanaa Lathan's character in "Nappily Ever After," but after the frustration passes, I'm always happy I've stuck with my hair and that my hair continues to stick with me.

My deep, dark confession is that I am extremely lazy with my hair regimen and my hair has sometimes reflected this. Newly natural, I wanted to experiment with my hair almost every day and yes, I slipped into product-junky territory. (I still have all the souvenirs from these experiments- I would get rid of them except, there's always a nagging voice in the back of my head that says well, maybe one of these days I could use them again. That day has not come yet.) I had bought product after product, watched video after video, searching for those elusive easy, gorgeous curls...These days, having been natural for several years and as a new mom with more projects on my plate, I try not to do too much with my hair besides wash it, condition it and hope that it stays moisturized.

I have worn braids, and twists, straight weaves, kinky weaves, wigs, twist-outs, braid-outs...and right now, I'm wearing a good ol' Afro. Over the years, I had gone from about three or four inches of hair (I instructed the girl at the salon to "cut off any straight pieces" and she double and triple checked with me before reluctantly shearing off most of my hair) to almost waist-length. But lately, with my hair constantly locking up at the ends from numerous split ends and simultaneously breaking off from dryness, I knew it was time for a haircut. Still, as the pieces of my hair were snipped off and floated down to the floor, I felt a sense of panic. Years of growth...gone. But the hair wasn't healthy. And so it needed to go. (Insert appropriate life analogy here.) As I left my appointment, my hair was shorter but more bouncy and alive than it had been for the last few years.

So now, here I sit, ready to start over again and recommit myself to my hair journey. Through the years, my hair has been recalcitrant, it's been tame, it's been big and bushy, it's been pulled back and demure, it's been bouncy, it's been called "unkempt," it's been called "beautiful," it's been small, and it has reached for the heavens...but most importantly, my hair has been right on my head, teaching me patience and how to love myself fully for all that I am.

Our dog got a haircut too, so I wasn't alone...