Q: You seemed so confident after your big chop and still are. Do you have any advice for people who aren’t as confident as you are and want to become natural? It takes a lot of guts, and some people are way too sensitive to deal with rude comments afterwards.
A: Okay so…you may not like my answer…but my advice to those people is that they aren’t ready to go natural yet (emphasis on yet). We like to say it’s just hair, but going natural does take a certain amount of confidence, because you WILL get at least some rude comments. I did not get too many, which I think was a result of my hair not being the kinkiest of the kinky. No, I am in no way, shape, or form saying that my hair is better than anyone else’s (I love ALL types of hair, even straight), but I do recognize that if I had kinkier hair I most likely would have gotten more negative comments. I received a lot of comments like, “If my hair looked like yours, I would go natural,” over “You need to relax that kinky/nappy mess” (although yes, some people did say this to me). Anyway, my point is that the last thing I would want someone to do is change their hair and end up utterly miserable because of the comments they receive, which basically becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because people can often get a vibe from low self esteem and react accordingly. Ultimately, your love for your hair is going to have to outweigh the negative comments from others. You are going to react very differently to negative comments when YOU are comfortable with your hair. Instead of responding with, “I can’t believe they said that about my hair, it’s so ugly,” you may think, “They have no idea what they are talking about, I love my hair and that’s all that matters.” Therefore, it’s really up to the person to establish their own sense of high esteem regarding their hair before introducing it into the world, otherwise, they are going to be doomed. Negative on top of negative equals negative x 2 (or negative squared, or 1, depending on the visual you get in your head).
Now, how do they establish higher self esteem for their hair? Well for one, I’d say look at photos on the internet, YouTube, and hair forums for inspiration (NOT imitation). Before I went natural, I looked at ALL different types of hair because I did not want to get gung ho about a certain hair type and have my hair come out completely different. Do not (I repeat, do not) often think, “I hope my hair comes out just like hers.” Because you know what? It probably won’t. Your hair is its own unique little gem of awesomeness, and is something to be celebrated. I mean, it literally grows out of your head, like grass, how cool is that? We’re all our own gardens. (Yes, corny, get over it.)
Second, I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – EMBRACE THE FRO, and by fro, I don’t just mean super tightly curled hair, I mean hair that grows out rather than down. I won’t even begin to talk about how many times I’ve heard women agonizing about how their hair will not “hang.” The reality is that due to the number of strands on our heads and tight curl pattern, a LOT of women don’t get hang without doing a certain style, or it takes a longer amount of time for the hair to begin to hang (for instance, you may need arm pit length hair rather than shoulder length). Frankly, when people go onnnnnnn and onnnnnnnn and onnnnnnn about this (like it’s the #1 priority for their hair), I really want to tell them to get over it, be patient and see if it hangs when it gets longer, or just get a texturizer (gasp!). An afro is not the end of the world, and I think that people should get that through their heads (I used to have more of a mullet fro, and I look back at pics of it, and I still think it was darn cute). If you concentrate on the actual health of your hair, rather than how you “think” it should look, I believe it will thrive.
Last, try to avoid asking other people about your hair and what they think of it. This is something you need to do on your own, and you need to develop your opinion of your hair without the interference of others. I admit, when my hair was shorter, I did this a few times with male friends, asking, “Seriously, does it look terrible (although I didn’t think it looked terrible)? Do I look like a boy? Tell me the truth.” And in the end…all it ended up being was a way for me to basically ASK for negative comments in order to make myself stronger. Now, I mean…if that’s your goal, by all means, go ahead (lol), but I’m not sure everyone is a glutton for punishment like I am. It was always, “Yea…I mean…you do look sort of like a boy” or “Well I just hope it grows back…it will look nice when it is longer,” (See that nice little note on WHEN it gets longer? Oh men, you guys are so sweet.) or “I want it to hang…” Now, I realize that I asked for the truth, but regardless of whether you hear it or not, people are going to have these thoughts about your hair…so take a look in the mirror, examine your hair, and figure out what YOU like about it. Then, whether you receive a compliment or an insult, it won’t sway how you feel about what’s growing out of your head.
I hope you found my incredibly long rambling answer helpful. xoxo