April 2010- This picture was taken on Easter, the day after my last relaxer touch up. I spent a good eight (!) hours in the salon that day, and I remember feeling like I could not do that anymore.I was spending a good amount of money and way too much time to have my scalp burned and to get itchy on a regular basis! I want to point out though, that my hair was very healthy, despite the relaxer and the honey blond highlights. This was my usual "style"- not a style at all but a roller set. I usually just sat for an hour under the dryer after getting a deep conditioner and walked out without even getting my hair wrapped. Why? Because I found that due to the repeat relaxing, my hair was losing body to the point I had to use some effort to actually keep it from hanging limp. Thankfully, my hair is very thick, so it didn't look bad. But I definitely could tell my hair wasn't the same as when I first started relaxing 9 years before.
July 2010: Frustrated by dealing with two textures, I went to the salon and got a good 6+ inches cut off.. It was either do this or I would've just grabbed the scissors and cut all of it off, lol! The criticism abated for the few weeks I wore it straight (this was the result of a flat iron, btw). Some of my family members weren't crazy that I cut my hair, but came around once I explained I was growing the perm out (they never liked my getting relaxers to begin with).
August 2010: I made the choice to keep the heat out of my hair and try to work with the two textures. The insults started back, and my confidence (despite the bright smile) plummeted. I used Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue and Buttercreme to manage the kinks/waves combo. Although I tried to be confident, I wound up in tears more than once as people not only mocked the texture but also the now much shorter length. As much as I was tempted to go back to relaxing something about the barrage of insults made me dig in my heels.
June 2011: I'm not sure why, but for some reason, last Friday, I just became so fed up with the straggly, relaxed ends I began to go through my hair and cut them all off. In some areas, that was 1/8 of an inch. In others, it was 3. But I just kept on, slowly snipping away so that by Sunday...
I was left with just coils! To keep the spring in my locks, I used the clear EcoStyler gel after wetting and applying coconut oil.
Sideshow Bob, kind of Whitney Houston in "My Love is Your Love"and 2.) definitely 4a in the hair typing scale (except for some random "baby hair" around the edges, lol).
So now, 14 months later, I'm pretty much on the opposite side of where I started. Dark where I had been light, coily where I had been straight. I wish I could say I wake up everyday loving my hair, but I don't. In fact, I still look at pictures of myself from years past and feel I really looked better with straight hair. It also bothers me that people rarely compliment my hair, no matter what hair band I wear (they'll carefully comment on the accessory without mentioning my hair), or style I try. From the day I stopped using heat, I've received a barrage of criticism, even when my hair texture was still pretty "loose" thanks to the relaxer last May and June.
I wish I could tell the girls considering going natural that it was a breeze, but that would be a lie. Not so much because of the work of doing my hair (although I did have some missteps!), but because straight hair really is more favored in the minds of many people, and a deviation from it raises eyebrows (or for some, ire). I'd tell anyone considering it to be prepared for the naysayers, even some of your closest family and friends.
But on the positive, let me add I've saved well over a $1,000 (maybe even closer to two). My Saturdays are mine again. I no longer fear having a daughter with a lot of hair because I actually know how to manage my own without running to someone else. My parents are happy that I'm finally off the creamy crack (who knew they kind of had a point about the trap of relaxers? HA!). My husband is no longer afraid to touch my hair. My scalp is not flaky and bumpy anymore. My hair smells nice without that chemical burn I use to try and mask.
It's been quite the journey and I'm proud of myself for taking it... and for far longer than a couple of weeks. :-)