July 30th, 2012 marks my 8 year natural anniversary, or naturalversary to add to the natural lingo dictionary. The past year especially has been a whirlwind, and I’m so proud to have made it thus far. I won’t go too far in-depth into my natural hair history, but I will say that I never imagined how far I would come in the last 8 years.
Before the Big Chop
In 2004 when I first cut my hair, it wasn’t known as a Big Chop…I simply cut my hair down to less than an inch of curl. It was a freeing experience to say the least and I loved my hair. It was easy to maintain, there was no product junkie-ism and I think it enhanced my femininity because I had no hair to rely on. I enjoyed that style, but by 18 months, my hair had grown out to my shoulders. When I had my hair pressed straight for the first time, it was beautiful and silky smooth, but my curls never fully reverted back. I had been bitten by the heat damage monster, and that was a hard pill to swallow.
After my 2nd big chop in 2006, I still loved the short style, but because it wasn’t really by choice, I couldn’t wait for my hair to grow back. I opted to breeze through the “awkward” phase by wearing braids, and as soon as my hair was long enough, I began flat ironing it myself with a ceramic flat iron. My hair was full and voluminous, but I still didn’t know how to manage it in its curly state. Finally, in 2009 I made the decision to forgo flat ironing, learn my hair and just get used to wearing it curly.
The Natural Hair Movement
Over these past 8 years, so much has changed in the natural hair care community. There were only a few people that I could look to for information, but now there are hundreds, and I’m even one of them! There’s something to be said for knowledge and educating yourself…ultimately you are in control of your own hair. As naturals, we have to accept that we are all different. One of the biggest things I’ve picked up is that no one else has hair like me, and although I love listening and offering suggestions, I am the master of my hair, and what works for me may not work for you.
The mindset among those within the natural hair community is mostly a positive one, but lately there has been so much unnecessary debate and criticism among us. I don’t feel it’s necessary to dis someone because you may or may not agree with how they feel about or choose to do their hair. This just goes back to the previous statement…we are ALL different and no one is going to be exactly alike. Let’s celebrate this uniqueness and embrace what we have on top of our head and in our hearts. There’s no reason to be bickering over curl pattern or stressing over length, we should be enjoying the versatility of our natural hair.
I look back on these last 8 years and smile because I’ve been able to do so much as a member of the natural hair community. From photo shoots, to invitations to exclusive product launches, and serving as press for the best natural hair events, I can only see the next year and beyond getting even better. Once I embraced my curls, I found that I was actually embracing myself. I was made this way and there’s nothing wrong with that. When you learn to love what you’ve got, things will tend to fall in place for you.
What about you — how long have you been naturally curly?