So I started Day 2 of this experience with my morning exposure to the world (posted on Instagram) and included the hashtags #amiofficialyet #needacatchynaturalhairhashtag. This was clearly a joke but a dig at the more exclusive (and often annoying) hashtags that I see while surfing social media. Even my mother emailed me with the subject line “#teamNatural” after I posted by Day 1 pictures online. It’s not the camaraderie that offends, it’s the exclusivity. It’s the feeling that people like me get who are natural and have been for 6 years. But because I press my hair, I’m somehow not natural enough. I didn’t have a relaxer until the week before I went to college. My mother was NOT having it. She was #teamNatural (at least as related to her child) before it was the cool thing to do. And I was only allowed a relaxer to come to college because I was a 16-year-old girl whose mother, despite her attempts, could not find a little old lady in Atlanta to press my hair, as she believed that is who was required to press hair. An accident that temporarily put her in a wheelchair the month before I left for college made it impossible for her to beat the streets upon my arrival (though if she did she would’ve learned that flat irons were all the rage back in 1996). So I lived 16 years with my curls that i hated because swimming with my white jewish friends was always an ordeal. Then I spent 10 years wearing it straight and relaxed and was just fine! I grew my relaxer out by accident. How? I got a weave. My first weave. And 8 months later when I came out of that weave (yes I had it redone in between), I told my stylist “maybe I should go natural” and her reply was “Ma’am you already are.”
So there it began. But somehow it’s almost like the plight of the bi-racial child who isn’t black enough for the blacks and not white enough for the whites. The pressed natural girls aren’t natural enough. And definitely not a favorite of the National Hair Mafia (NHM). I’ve gotten lots of comments over the past 7 days like:
Naturalista #1: I didn’t know you were transitioning! Me: I’m not.
Naturalista #2: You should wear your hair natural more often! Me: I wear it natural every day. (insert confused face here.)
Naturalista #3: You will fall in love with your natural hair, keep going! Me: I already love my hair. I love it straight. I like it curly. I’m falling in love with new styles to wear my hair in, if that’s what you mean.
I wasn’t trying to be an ass. I just hate the assumptions and judgements that come along with the word “Natural”. The best response I got to yesterday’s post was from a friend (who shall remain nameless) who switches back and forth between styles all the time:
” You have no apologies to make to anyone. It’s a very emotional journey.Plus, there’s all kinds of sh*t attached to “going natural” anyway. Especially the thought that you should be burning incense, eating tofu and basically channeling Badu at all times. Lord forbid yo a$$ should be down with kinky curly AND J.Crew. Or like natural b*tches don’t shop at Neimans.”
We need our own hashtag. Let’s try one of these: #proudtobepressed #pressed&proud #pressedbutnotoppressed. T-shirts to come. #pressedgirlslikealternativerevenuestreams
Ok onto my notes.
Day 2: Felt good enough to wear without a headband. Shocker! But it was a bit unwieldy. A lot of manipulating to do to get me “leave the house” worthy. At work, only one comment. A black woman “omg that looks so different! Not good or bad just makes you look so different….it’s cute tho” translation: “You look real urban.” Eh. Whatever. Part of the reason I wanted to try this was so I could get back on my regular workout regimen. So my curls and I went to Zumba. Watched it grow with every cumbia. No one told me it was going to swell! I thought that was the point of having it! That it didn’t get bigger. Lies. All lies. Where in the world is my headband? Cannot return to work without it.
Time for bed. Spray, smoothie, retwist. 35 minutes I will never get back. Pray for morning hair. Good nite.
Day 3: Took the day off. Why? Because I needed it. Why #2? Because I had a development meeting and honestly was not ready to spring this hairdo on corporate white America. Damn. That sounds bad. But it’s real. Perhaps this is proof that I’m really not ready for this as a lifestyle (as if i needed another reminder). I am confident and have great self-esteem but….i just couldn’t do it. Especially not when I woke up and untwisted my hair and looked like this.
So it’s my day off. I’m supposed to leave home for an appointment in 30 minutes. Definitely called to reschedule. Text Heather. Plead for help. See this is what I get for trying to bantu knot from a twist out. Whatever that means. I have got to stay off YouTube. Where is that stupid headband?? Aaah. Oooh wait let me pull it back a little bit. Now let me put on my lipstick. YES GIRL WORK! Text Heather back and have her call off the 911 alert. Crisis averted.
I am feeling myself! I look great! I’m NATURAL and rocking it! The back looks a hot mess…I’ll work with it.
Time for bed! Danielle tells me I need to try “pineappling”. So I’m forced back to YouTube, which is clearly the devil. After watching 4 videos, I ready to try it. I flip my hair over, which is saying a lot because this hair, doesn’t move unless I am literally whipping my hair back and forth. I flip it over and pull it to the front and put my hair tie on in the front of my head, so that I resemble a Snork.
And then I tie on my scarf and VOILA! Wait….this is cute! I’m cute! But I’m supposed to go to sleep now?! UGH! Good nite.
TBBG Lessons from Day 2 & 3:
1) When you wake up and untwist your hair, don’t keep going trying to make yourself immediately cute. Untwist and then in the middle of the crazy looking stage stop. Go put on your clothes, and your earrings. Big ones. Come back. Now continue to futz, fluff, separate and groom. You will magically find yourself closer to CUTE. If you are almost there but need a little push, stop. Beat your face. Then come back. Guarantee you in 5 mins you will be ready to walk out of the bathroom and into the world.
2) That picture of the back of my head? Yeah. So. I made those twists too big AND I didn’t have a good grip. That means there was too much hair exposed (that patch right on your scalp) that wasn’t included in the twist. I called that bad look “homeless chic”.
3) It’s not going to be perfect. And that’s supposed to be ok. But really, for me, it’s not. Maybe its the Virgo perfectionist in me. Maybe I’m just hot mess adverse. Eh. To do this and do it well, you need to develop an IDGAF attitude. And be bold with it. You have to not care if your middle looks like cotton balls or one section curls the opposite way. You have to embrace the wildness of your hair. Still working on that.
4) You will STAY waking up early and going to bed late if you try to retwist your hair every night the same way you did on day one. 35 mins, more spray bottle cocktail, more twists. Less sleep/tv/Ruzzle. Ask me how I know. But I dare not look crazy. Remember I don’t have the right attitude yet.
Still with me? Feel differently? It is ok. Please share! The journey is half way done and there is more to come.