Natural is as Naturals Do!
Having not had the good sense to document my ‘big chop’—who knew that such a brute and heavy-handed term existed for what amounted for me to be a simple Caesar—via photos or video, the discovery of a vocal and diverse natural community online after the fact has grounded me to the truth of the very personal practice that natural is as natural does.
Or for the purposes of this post—natural is as naturals do!
A hairDO that is my signature style, my thing, my swag,
An I DO that is a commitment I have made to the unknown quantity springing from my scalp with heady demands, and
A damned if I DO or I don’t, because you can’t make everyone happy with your choices, and yes that extends to those who find the time to hate within/without the natural community.
The insurgency is real, but so are those pockets of women (in particular) everywhere who create, maintain, encourage and embolden community among sistren and brethren by celebrating hair in all its many natural formations and school of thoughts. Whether you are free flowing, brother– or sister-locked, dreaded, cornrowed, twisted, fro-ed out, babies slicked around the edges or fuzzed-out—A to C (or as some have claimed Z)—I LOVE YA! Oh yes I DO!
This is a second-time-around natural hair experience for me. The first was a frustrated accident of whatevs that resulted in my wrapping it up and letting it be. It’s natural I thought, hence and therefore my active involvement beyond the greasing of scalp and the occasional plait-up was unnecessary.
How wrong I was.
It was 2000, YouTube was neither dream nor fantasy, and it would be another 8 years before I discovered how totally addictive and life-changing that particular medium could be. Even as I majored in Media Studies and focused my attention so keenly on Journalism, blogging was in its infancy, and like me probably had no clue of its own evolutionary possibilities.
This time around, my eyes were wide open. This time around was 2 1/2 years ago around Thanksgiving and there was a heady love from the outset.
It was a little after midnight and I was recovering from a cold or some other malady. It was not an awesome occasion. My husband’s family was in town and I was in no shape to hang. I was on also on the cusp of 30. I was searching for something; something to mark my passing into a personal decade where I wanted to challenge my own ideas about who I was and who I wanted to be. I was in that headspace and just took one look in the mirror and made a decision that has also served to alter the way I feel about myself on some very basic levels.
I didn’t immediately call myself natural. I had no vocabulary. I was simply myself with nothing to hide behind, i.e. without the crown and glory that so many refer to. And if that’s not enough to shake any woman up, my husband thinking and asking “why?” out loud did.
A redeeming moment during that time was an upcoming interview for my current job. I had been wrapping my head again—this time really hiding behind my headwraps, but I knew that had to stop. So, I gave myself an encouraging nudge by letting my undefined teeny-weeny afro (TWA) hang out. It was a good moment for me, and ultimately I got the job and was on my way in more ways than one.
And I’ve had to learn that there is no handbook. Fact is, the prevailing book titles out there, may or may not lay a foundation of knowledge that will give you what you desire in the way of hair love/lust. Ultimately, if you don’t get in touch with your own head of hair, then you won’t have a head of hair.
Being natural is something that works for me currently. It does not have to be broken down and understood. I don’t have to excuse myself from the room (or forum as it were) if I decide to wig or wrap it up as is my preferred protective style. My hair just is, and it does what it will (and sometimes what I tell it).
Although my natural hair journey began with such spontaneity, it was not with the usual rebellion; and even when I look at my hair and think “Ughh, are you really going to challenge me like this today/this week” I still wouldn’t have it any other way.
There will always be those who don’t love your hair, and don’t have the good sense to keep their opinions to themselves. They may be family, friends, co-workers or whomever you please.
Then there will be those who simply don’t understand, and will make genuine attempts to find that place where you’ll just have to make that decision as to whether you’re ready and available or even feel the need for a teachable moment.
And let’s not forget the ones who love the soap box of defining what can and what can’t be natural, and who downright foam at the mouth when any mention is made of heat styling, shampooing, coloring, weaves, wigs, extensions … etc, etc, etc … Well, they have their own special place in my heart.
Growing into your natural hair and those daily personal decisions you make about your hair is your DO. Glamour and others of that ilk DON’T have a say.
Your hair is not a democracy or for that matter a tourist destination. You know where you live, love, work and breathe, so it is whatever you deem necessary.
Life will surely change your hair and mind, and make its own demands, and before you can force your hair, it will force you—right down to the scalp it will—whether relaxed or natural.
So go with the flow and BE ENCOURAGED in doing your DO.
Donnie said it best in the classic and must-listen Cloud 9 on his “The Colored Section” LP.
We live from the head down, and not the feet up/And I’m adorned with the crown that’s making this up/I’m fine, fine… under Cloud 9 …/Twist my cloud and it rains…and when it rains oh it pours…/Don’t let them tell you what to do/Defy gravity…