If you told me two years ago that I would stop using chemicals to straighten my hair and instead wear my hair in its natural state, I would have laughed.
From an early age, I was taught to believe that wearing my hair straight was easier to deal with and was more accepted by society. From the women in my family to the black women that graced magazine covers, television shows, and commercials, I learned to envy and desire straight, silky, smooth hair. I faithfully visited the salon every two weeks to get my hair washed, blow dried and styled in addition to relaxing my hair every six to eight weeks to maintain my straight hair.
I became so obsessed with preserving my straight hair that I avoided inclement weather like rain or snow, dreaded traveling and sometimes skipped going to the gym just to keep my hair from reverting to its naturally curly state.
The Road to Self-Discovery
When I began dating my husband, he would often inquire about my natural hair and ask why I relaxed it. I would always respond that relaxed hair was easier to deal with, but the truth was I didn’t know why. My relationship with relaxers began at the age of two when my mom decided my hair was too thick to manage and I continued to do it without question. I had no idea what my hair was like without chemicals or how to take care of it. Over the next couple of years my husband would drop hints about natural hair, but I was adamant about keeping my relaxer.
Last summer my husband I watched Good Hair, a documentary produced and narrated by Chris Rock. The documentary explored how black women style their hair, the techniques used to achieve these styles and how hair is perceived in the black community. I knew that relaxers, like most chemicals, had side effects and potential dangers, but I didn’t realize the risk that relaxers posed for both my hair and body. Since becoming a member of Bella Forza Fitness, I changed my diet and work out habits to lead a healthier lifestyle but I had never thought about my hair. I began doing my own research about relaxers, talking to friends that were natural and I did a lot of soul searching. I realized that in order to really love myself, I needed to accept and embrace my true self.
For the next several months, I researched natural hair care and started a blog to document my journey. I was so excited to see my natural hair that I decided to cut off my relaxed hair instead of slowly transitioning. This process is also known as the “big chop” in the natural hair community. In the days leading up to the big chop, I worried about having short hair and seeing my natural hair for the first time. But, once the hair stylist made the first few cuts, I knew that I made the right decision.
It’s been six months since my big chop and I have never felt better. Embracing my natural hair has given me a newfound confidence and the courage to take risks in other areas of my life. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and I’m happy with the way I look.