Danger: Natural Hair Expectations

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Back in the early days of the natural movement, the most over-used phrase was “curl definition”. Every second post on the forum was about somebody trying to get that “curl definition” and “curlpop” and “3b” and the “holy grail product” or routine that would give the"4's" "3b" hair. Out of this quest came multi-stage curl product layering, 3 hour styling sessions using stiffening creams, rubber bands and bonnet dryer sessions.

Being on Nappturality – OK yes we all are here to learn to love and accept our hair, along with all its ups and downs but still… there is the image vs the reality…

tracee-ross1We are bombarded now with articles on natural hair all over the internet on numerous “natural hair” websites featuring photos of glamorous celebrities with their $2000 ‘natural’ wigs & weaves and women like the beautiful Tracee Ellis Ross with her gorgeous, thick curly hair and think, hey, I’m gonna go natural and look like her.

It’s dangerous business. Because no one is Tracee Ellis Ross except for Tracee Ellis Ross and no amount of wish, hope and beg will make her hair yours.

You may discover that your natural is similar to hers, or maybe not. Your natural hair may be a combination of hair similar to hers and your mother’s. Or your sister’s. Or your cousin’s. Or that girl who works in shipping. Or all of them. Or none of them. You just don’t know and it doesn’t matter anyway.

When someone who is transitioning, especially if she is using extensions, weave or some other hair-covering tool to get through those early stages asks me for advice, the first thing I say is to expect nothing. Not to “expect the worst” but don’t expect anything at all. Because the minute you start expecting, you are setting yourself up to fail.

First of all, your first growth of natural hair will most likely be thinner and coarser than any long-term natural’s hair simply due to the damaging effects of chemical relaxing. You may have no curl pattern at all because of 1) the relaxer damage or 2) you don’t have a curl pattern. You won’t know until at least after the first hair growth cycle, what your true hair looks like.

If you haven’t seen your hair for [x] number of years without a relaxer or hot comb in it and you don’t know what it looks or feels like in its healthy natural state, you are not in a good position to hold any expectations of what your real hair may look like once it’s healthy again.

ALL hair is good hair. Do not fall into the trap of the marketing companies or celebrity hair goals, pushing the “good hair” onto us subliminally all the time as if having a loose curl pattern is the only thing to strive for. If you do not have a loose curl pattern, all the goop and gel isn’t going to give it to you. If you spend 99% of your natural life twirling, twisting, setting, pulling, shingling, slathering layers of gel and goop on, then sitting under a dryer, trying to always achieve someone else’s shake & go hair type, you will be missing out on valuable time when you could be learning how to work with and enhance your OWN hair type. Your hair is beautiful within its own right and its own texture and does not need to be sized up to something else to make a standard.

Transitioners, you need to hear this. Transitioning is more about transitioning your mind than your hair. As your hair comes through, seek out support for keeping it healthy and beware of falling into the trap of using hair products to “improve” your texture. Falling into that trap only leads back to one place.

 

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