Ten months have passed since my last blog post about hair, following my decision to “go natural”. If you’re expecting an inspiring update I may disappoint: Exhibit A shows how I’m wearing my hair these days (maintaining natural hair is no joke!).
My hair is hidden away so that I’m not tempted to return to my relaxed hair ways.
The excitement of “going natural” has given way to the reality of maintaining natural hair, the part of the “relaxer-free” lifestyle which doesn’t get quite as much hype because it’s the more tedious part of the journey. For me, styling my hair, even when it was relaxed, always felt more like punishment than a fun activity—it’s up there with other things I don’t enjoy doing (mopping floors and adding blogs that are full of cut-and-paste posts to the Nigerian Blog Awards website). When I dream about winning the lottery, the one that I never play, weekly hair salon trips are always one of the first things I’d indulge in.
Before “going natural”, I romanticized the whole thing: I had visions of effortless twist outs and quick hair styles. I thought I’d feel more like myself than ever before with natural hair and have some Aha! moments about who I really am. Instead I realized that raising my hands above my hair for long periods of time, especially when the result is amateurish work that I cover up with a scarf, is not my idea of a good time. My feelings of exasperation with my hair may change (I hope they do) but in these past ten months if it wasn’t for head ties, scarves, and my blessing of a mother (who took on the task of cornrowing my hair so that the time maintaining my natural hair was minimal and I could live in low-maintenance land for one to two weeks at a time), I may have relaxed my hair months ago.
I recently got to meet a blogger friend who was rocking her natural hair in two-strand twists. I was interested in her hair because the two-strand twist is how I see myself wearing my hair once it’s 100% natural because I like its versatility. As I watched my natural-haired friend retwist most of her hair one evening, I realized that no-maintenance natural hair is fiction—everything requires maintenance, even bald heads (one has to maintain that lovely shine, right?).
If I want natural hair that’s full and longish (anywhere between cheekbone and shoulder-length would be divine!), then I have to partner with a natural hair stylist or unearth my inner natural hair stylist soon.
In the meantime I’m thankful for this protective style, which has made life easier and which will hopefully carry me for a few more weeks. Being able to leave the house without giving a thought to my hair is a blessing. I’m also glad that I can give my mom a break from having to help me with my hair (#blessed #spoiled). This wasn’t what I envisioned when I thought about my hair after “going natural”, but that’s ok. It makes sense I suppose that the naturalistas with Instagram followings and YouTube channels are the ones who are passionate about their hair, the ones who dream of and think about how they can make their crowning glory exactly that. My respect for these women was already high but it’s only grown these past few months as I realized what maintaining natural hair really takes.
What’s your biggest hair-related challenge right now?