Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green... Or Natural

Hi Friends,

Lately, my natural hair journey has had me feeling some kind of way...

Well, not some kind of way, frustrated is more like it. Why you ask?  When you look at all the natural hair bloggers, vloggers, twitterings, and instagrams, all you see are big chop pics of women with short hair, some even bald, and right next to it you see a pic of their hair a year or more later as a long, full head of curls, coils, kinks, and pure fabulousness.  These pics are meant to inspire, but recently they've had an opposite affect on me.

But let me back track a bit...

I big chopped on January 6th, 2012.  Her hair looked like this:
My first day back to work as a 'naturalista'.. They weren't ready lol



By August of 2012, it had grown  to this:

August 2012, right before my lumpectomy

August was a rough month.  On the same day I failed my road test to get my driver's license, I received word that the lump in my breast had grown since it was last examined.  I made the decision to have the lump removed, as I later learned that I had a history of breast cancer in my family.

(sb: ladies AND gents, make sure to have these kind of medical history discussions with your parents, I went most of my adult life NOT knowing that my mother had a breast cancer scare in her teens.  It wasn't until I called her freaking out about my test results that she mentioned it.  Why didn't we ever have that convo? I still don't know).

I think having all of this happen so close to my birthday made me realize that the time for trying new things is now, not later.  Whatever was holding me back in the past from being edgier or funkier with my look no longer seemed to make sense.  It was that attitude, (along with a hangover from the night before of pre-celebrating my birthday), that  led me to the impulsive decision of getting a tapered cut at the salon.  Had I thought it all the way through, I probably would have let my stylist create a faux-hawk look rather than go all the way with a cut. Now don't get me wrong, I was serving fierceness for the kids that weekend with the new cut and flat iron, but by the following week when it was time to return to my curl, I definitely felt like I went back to square one in terms of length.  See below:

My 29th Birthday- she killed ;) - 9/2012
Back to curly with a little new growth, 10/2012

Even with this shorter cut, I wasn't too phased about it, and felt like I was just going to continue to grow my hair out.  I then made a bad decision.  In another impulsive move, this time prompted by the Jay-Z Concert series at Barclays lol, I decided late on a Saturday afternoon before the concert to go to my former stylist to get my hair flat ironed.  My usual stylist doesn't really take walk-ins so I figured my oldie-but goodie in my neighborhood would be ok.  For the concert I looked cute but a few days later I realized that she had caused heat damage to a section of my hair!  I was mortified when I got out of the shower after washing my hair and saw a section of hair at the front of my head hanging down, looking as straight as wet relaxed hair, while the rest had gone back to curly shrinkage city.  I was so upset I called in sick to work.  My poor boyfriend just put his arms around me as he saw that nothing he said stopped me from crying.  Once the emotional part of it passed, I was back to my Virgo self and began looking at practical solutions to the problem.  I bought a wig, became a head wrap goddess, and finally got a weave.  See below:

Head wrap realness
If you don't like then put a wig on it!
Weaves Up, Fro's braided down!


 Ok so all the drama had FINALLY passed right?  Or so I thought!  I weathered that storm, and finally started seeing some growth again.  I was trimming the damaged hair off along the way, and the tapered cut had grown out considerably, check out the comparison:

The pic explains it all!

So last weekend I thought it was time for a trim.  Somehow though, the trim ended up more like a cut, and now I feel like I'm back at square one once again.  If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably used to me doing selfies almost everyday lol, yep 'I be feelin' myself' lol.  But this past week? not so much lol. But why have I been feeling so devastated?  

Well back to where this post started, I usually glean inspiration from photos online of my fellow naturalistas.  But with this roller coaster of a journey, I have felt like I'm somehow inadequate because my hair length is not the expected length for someone who has been natural as long as I have been.  Whenever I go to natural hair events, I get asked how long I've been natural.  When I say almost 15 months, they kind of re-examine my hair with a look of "where yo' hair at gurl?".  Then I have to explain that I got a tapered cut in September of 2012, that I'm growing it out, etc, etc.  Having that conversation before my 'trim' this past weekend never bothered me, but now?? I even decided not to go to a natural hair event in Brooklyn yesterday because of these feelings of inadequacy... even had to hype myself up this morning as I got ready for work..

It wasn't until I began walking to the train today and caught a reflection of myself in a car window that I had an epiphany.  My natural hair journey is just that-- MINE.  I'd like to think that my experience was unique, but I'm sure that other naturals have experienced similar frustrations and challenges with hair growth.  Even with that being said, my frustrations got in the way of me appreciating the fact that even with every snip a scissors has done to my hair, the singe of the flat iron that damaged my hair, my hair has made a comeback.  Patience is a virtue, and it becomes even more so as you embark on a natural hair journey.  I feel like I can hear Kermit D. Frog's "Bein' Green" playing in the background as I type lol.

 

It really isn't easy to be natural.  Making the decision to cut off the hair you've grown, and grown to love for years isn't easy.  Learning a whole new way to care for your hair isn't easy, neither is dealing with questions from people that run the gamut of inquisitive to misguided, to straight up disrespectful!  It's not easy to follow all the vloggers and bloggers, and to make sense of the onslaught of conflicting information out there in the atmosphere.  Most of all, it's not easy to shed your insecurities and old ideas of what is beautiful to embrace this new version of you.

I realized this morning that my journey, though bumpy, has made me appreciate my hair that much more.  At first, I didn't really embrace my fro.  I always had to pin up the side(s), throw in an accessory, I had to do something to it.  It wasn't until late last summer that I began just wearing it out without any extra accoutrement. So for me to see that fro go from big to small again deflated me a bit for the past few days. 

I was on the fence about getting a chai this morning, but I decided to go for it, and went into the Connecticut Muffin near my office to get one.  In line ahead of me was a fellow natural, and I immediately began crushing on her full french roll/twist updo.  I could tell her hair was thick and long in order to achieve that style.  I shrunk inside just a little bit, my insecurities getting to me once again.  

As we both waited for our orders, she tapped me and said, "I hope you don't mind me asking but what do you use on your hair, it looks great."  I told her that I use Shea Moisture and Karen's Body Beautiful.  She said she hadn't heard of KBB before so I told her about the website and also where it's available in Brooklyn.  Then she asked me what I do to set my hair and I told her I do two strand twist outs and use a pic to fluff it out when I take them down.  She seemed impressed.  She complimented me again and I thanked her again.  I feel like perhaps God was trying to tell me something.. that we all have something to offer, we all have something that others admire, even when we don't see it.  I didn't ask this woman her name, but I hope somehow some way that she knows how much her small compliment meant to me.  

Seeing my reflection in that car window this morning helped me bounce back. This woman in CT Muffin also helped.

So if you were sick of my selfies before, get well soon lol  <<Insert Kanye Shrug here>> because I am back to my usual loving me self, and as for my fro, she'll be back soon too :)  


The call me Mel-o yellow... Today at work!


-mel b.


8 comments:

  1. Awwwww.... You're hair always looks great and some naturalistas actually opt to keep it short! Glad my meetup partner is back to her beautiful self! I missed you Tuesday

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    1. Thanks! I'm an over-thinking, always 'in my head' Virgo, I can't help but obsess over things that really aren't as big an issue as they seem lol

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  2. Girl wonderful blog post! I definitely understand the struggle. Will be one year natural this May. I've had my own trials and tribulations. More so on learning about my hair in its natural state. Good luck and I look forward to future blog posts.:)

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    1. Thanks for checking out my blog! More posts coming soon :)

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  3. Hello! This is the first time I have read your blog but I totally understand where you are coming from!! My hair was so slow in growing out, and when it did I realized my hair was thin as ever and super prone to dryness and breakage. Not wishing to deal with the stress (which is also a hair killer for me) I decided to go to the barber and cut it all off over a year ago! I still wear my hair in a low fade today! Does that make me any less a natural woman?? For a while I thought yes but realized that I am just as natural and feminine with my traditional masculine cut. And I been natural for 5 years!! :-) You are just fine!

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting!! Your experience is inspiring! I think many of us who big chop have to get used to seeing ourselves with a short do and some aren't comfortable with it. But your example is a prime reason why embracing whatever we have is important! Short cuts are fun and sassy!

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  4. I have been natural for 6 years and I went from half an inch all over at big chop to hair I could twist out before a year. I had a big fro and was loving it and then I also made some impulse decisions and allowed other people ( a no no!!) to mess in my hair smh. I ended up going to a trusted stylist and ha gave me new life with a tapered cut! I think I received more compliments than I ever had but now I am missing all my hair and i have been wearing a tapered cut now for almost a year and now ready to grow it out again. Your story has inspired me and I also realized that MY hairstory is also my own :). You look amazing in all your photos sis and I am so glad yoh are doing alright. Prayers to you sis and keep inspiring others. God bless!

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    1. Thank you! I'm a slacker to my blog I must say, but it was nice to see that someone got something out of one of my posts. Makes me want to get back to writing! Thanks again for reading, and I hope to get some new posts up soon!

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