My relationship with my natural hair is about as complicated as my relationship with my ex


The first time I decided to go ahead and and get fully involved with this relationship, I was skeptical.

Was this the right thing to do? Had I really thought out all the possibilities? Was I really ready to commit?

Yes, I’m talking about transitioning from straight, relaxed hair to my more natural curls. It was like when I decided to be with my ex, except probably more thought went into it.

A warning sign right there. 

I didn’t do the Big Chop like most naturalistas do. Instead I decided to go natural cold turkey and dealt with having two different textures at the same time.

It was like waiting for my ex to stop being an idiot and start acting like a grown up.

Except my hair actually did the damn thing. 

My mom first relaxed my hair when I was three years old. Yes. Three.

READ MORE: A preschool teacher inspired a student to embrace her natural hair

She couldn’t deal with my curls then and honestly she can’t deal with them now. So, I spent most of my life dealing with straightened/relaxed hair, never knowing the power of my curl pattern and the beauty of my natural crown. 

I struggled for years with relaxer burns and the resulting sores on my scalp, as well as the plight of frequent blowouts and having my hair flat ironed until it hung limp from my scalp and was thin enough to run my fingers through without them getting lost. 

From 2015 to 2018. Image: Carmen Williams

Then, when I was 24, I decided to stop relaxing my hair.

It was like leaving a (literally) toxic relationship and deciding to put myself first for once. I was done with the abuse and the torture that foul-smelling white crème was inflicting on me and I knew it was time to leave my relaxed days behind.

Especially when my hairdresser (as a sort of hair relationship expert) told me it was okay to let go. 

It was a whole new world, but it was also confusing. I had curly hair coming out if my roots and straightened hair further down the shaft. It was like that limbo period between knowing if you’re serious with the person you think is your boyfriend or not. 

READ MORE: I went through a drastic hair change and here's what I learned

I began watching video tutorials. Youtube is a pretty good place to get information from other people who are going natural or have done so already.

I asked other women with natural hair for advice. I bought natural hair products – and no one prepared me for the price tag. Some months I could take myself and a partner out for supper with the amount I spent on curling creams and sprays alone. Being natural is expensive. 

But eventually my hair grew out after months of agony and it was completely curly. Leaving behind my straightened hair was like breaking up with my ex all over again – hard at first, but completely worth it in the end. There were tears (mostly from having to detangle my hair. That shit hurts!), there was anger, there was joy and there was eventual self-love and acceptance of my natural hair. 

Deciding to be with your natural hair in a honest, committed relationship is a tough one. But one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There was lots of wine and talking to friends about it just like deciding on a real relationship. But eventually I took the leap and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. 

Not that it’s easy. 

READ MORE: 3 basic rules for growing healthy and beautiful natural hair

You have to use 5 million products to keep your hair moisturised depending on your hair type – which ranges from 1A to 4C. Then you need to know how to take care of your specific hair type which is a never ending journey all on its own. 

Much like taking on a new lover, there are days when it just does everything you want and need and then there are days when it won’t do anything you want it to. It just lies there and defies every move and every request. Which is usually the time to try something new or just tie it up. Wink, wink. 

I’m still learning to live with my natural hair in harmony, but I love it unconditionally (there’s a joke in there somewhere about conditioner) and I hope it keeps going from strength to strength. Here’s to the one relationship I know for sure will last me the rest of my life. 

Do you have a complicated relationship with your natural hair? Have you just transitioned or thinking about making the change? Tell us about it in an email or on Facebook or Twitter.

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