Sep 3, 2010

Posted by in My Natural Hair Journey, Self Love | 2 Comments

I Am Not My Hair…Am I?

I Am Not My Hair…Am I?

 

This natural hair transition has been quite challenging, bringing forth deeply buried ugly truths and warped reality perceptions that I was totally unaware of.

**Check out my previous post Authentically Me to find out why I decided to go natural**

After my first few months of transition, I became quite annoyed with the two drastically different textures of my hair (curly and thick at the roots and bone straight the rest of the way), so I stopped dealing with it all together.  I wore it in a loose bun adorned with a headband (as seen in the picture above).

Sometimes I would get a little creative and let a spiral curl hang down.

That was the bulk of my creativity.  I wore this basic style for weeks, probably even a month.  I simply did not care for the styling or maintenance of my hair.

During this process, split ends began to eat away at any healthiness I had left.  I knew it was time for a trim, but I was torn between trimming and experimenting with a new cut.  My original intent was to keep my hair as long as possible through this transition, but dealing with the two different textures made me quickly change my mind.

Cue inner turmoil, askewed perceptions, and plenty of nonsense.

My decision to change my appearance with a new haircut brought forth some insecurity issues.  I wanted an attractive and stylish asymmetrical cut that ensured more length in the front than the back.  I was concerned with keeping a certain amount of length for fear of completely revealing all of my flaws, namely my double chin.  I felt my long hair played some sort of roll in covering up, or at least distracting from, the unsightly roundness of my face.  In consideration of the rest of my flaws I decided it would be best to put off my “big chop” (a term developed in the natural hair community for cutting off all of the permed hair) until my acne fully cleared up, my teeth and gums looked healthier, and my face slimed down.  I truly felt I had too many imperfections to uncover them all at once.  After all, why cut off my best asset?  It was the only thing on me that did not contain a flaw, in my perception.  So this haircut had to be a fresh, new change, while successfully distracting from my dreaded flaws.

On July 2nd I decided I was ready for what I call my “medium chop.”  This was my result…

Although very cute, it was a lot shorter than I wanted it.  I literally went from loving it one day to hating it the next.  The short length and bone straight ends made it mandatory to wear curly looks to keep from looking like a mushroom head.  Not to mention the fact that I still wanted to portray the most authentic version of myself during this transition period.

I tried different curly styles from pin curls to flexirods.  I liked the idea of flexirods, but my curls came out tighter than I would have preferred for such short hair.  So literally two days after my previous picture where I’m flashing that smile, I wasn’t feeling this “new do”.

I looked and felt like this…

As far as I was concerned the curls were just too tight.  My mom had to remind me that I was in the process of wearing my natural curls.  How could I be biased against tight curls?  Natural curls are tighter curls.  That is just reality, for most black naturals anyway.  I realized at that point, I was not as ready for this “natural” reality as I thought I was.

When I pictured myself as a natural, I would fantasize about the longhaired curly/wavy naturals I saw on TV and hoped that mine would be as beautiful.  The one look I was NOT going for is an 80’s flashback to the Jheri curl.

Regardless of my fantasies and judgments, the reality is, the whole purpose of this process is to ACCEPT what I was born with and EMBRACE what is.  Why be so attached to the length or the loose curls?  I realized I still had a lot to work on.

This short cut taught me a lot about myself.  I realized that I’m just plain lazy when it comes to elaborate care and maintenance of my hair.  This short cut demanded constant attention.  I had to pin curl or flexi rod my hair EVERY night to have a decent style in the morning.  Needless to say, that was not my cup of tea.  I opted for a non-existent nighttime routine.

I ended up like this…

This style consisted of me pinning my short, straight ends back and accenting it with a scarf or headband.

The good thing about this style is that it helped me “embrace my face.”  I came up with this term because that is exactly what I was doing.  I had to.  This allowed me to just accept what is.  Flaws and all.  I finally started to appreciate the true beauty in my face with no distractions to intervene.

During this process I started to explore deeper levels of unconditional self-love and total acceptance.  I have plenty of physical and personality flaws.  So what!  Who doesn’t?  Why spend time obsessing over what’s wrong?  Accept what is and keep it moving.  It’s easier said than done, but it’s definitely necessary.  If everyone focused on the best in themselves and everyone else instead of the worst, what type of world would we live in?

Pinning my hair back helped me to also pin back the false perception that my hair was my best asset.  There is so much more to me than hair!  Did I think my hair made me the person that I am?

Although I kept my hair pinned back for a few weeks, I still wasn’t ready to let go of the rest of my permed ends.  I even entertained the awful thought that if I went through with my “big chop” before my cousin’s wedding, I would be presenting the least attractive version of myself to be her bridesmaid.

Why did my natural hair have to be the least attractive version of myself?  And why was the length of my hair still so important to me?

What about all of the positivity, love, care, intelligence and NATURAL beauty I obtain?  Does that all go away with the decision to drastically change my hair?

There are way too many attachments to the outward appearance!

Thank GOD for this process of changing myself on the inside – the cause of ALL outward effects!  And thank God for my flaws.  Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate my strengths.  My flaw of laziness (not wanting to do my hair every night, resulting in the pinned back hairstyle) helped me block out my outside distractions so I could focus on my true beauty from the inside out.

Accepting the inevitable flaws we are all faced with and focusing on the inner beauty that stubbornly peeks through the cracks of each one, is exercising spiritual instead of ego vision. The good and the bad go hand in hand. Learning how to properly deal with them both breeds true happiness.

Lessons Learned

Have Faith. God knew what he was doing when he created you.

 

Know Your Worth. Never put more value on outward appearances than the treasures within.

 

Accept Your Flaws. We all have them. They don’t define you and shouldn’t stop you. Learn from them, grow, and move on.

 

Love Yourself. You have to live with this person for the rest of your life!

 

Be confident. There is beauty, love and good in everyone.

 

Focus on the positive. Obsessing over the negativity in and around you is a choice. Choose differently. It will benefit your life exponentially.


 

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A huge inspiration for this post is India.Arie’s “I am Not My Hair”. Check out the video here. Also, click here to see the lyrics. The words are SO important.

Stay tuned for even more lessons and changes during my natural hair transition!

Share your thoughts in the comments: What are any lessons or struggles you’ve experienced during your own process of change?

Peace, Love and ACCEPTANCE,

~Alexis~

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  1. I luv this….thanks for sharing….I am actually going through this myself. I have not had a relaxer since my wedding but my hair is so thick and hard to manage….I have just been wearing weaves and wigs! Reading this makes me realize that I want the beautification without having to do what it takes to get there….pure laziness! Thanks Alexis and good luck!

    • Thanks Shavie! I totally feel you. You should check out Youtube. I have found a wonderful natural hair community there that gives great hair care tips, product reviews and hair styling techniques that make transitioning and caring for natural hair a lot easier.

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