V.D.S. is like a sister for me, « my lil sist » as I used to call her.
We have talked a lot about hair, skin and blackness issues. She wrote her « Nappy Story » for african links!
What does it mean to be natural? This term seems to have become so trendy lately and it has overwhelmed the world of many colored women – I purposely mention colored women and not black women because this trends transcends races and color. From white to black, there are as many layers of colors as there are layers of curls.
We hear the lovely natural in rap verses “put your natural head over here,” natural hair this and natural hair that. Natural hair have also invaded the supermarket – in New York at least, I am not sure about European supermarkets. I just remember being gladly surprised to see natural hair designated aisles. I mean, I was happy and grateful, but still, something was off. How, and when did being natural become a brand? I deeply believe that being natural is much more than branding and rap verses. It is a statement. It is recognizing the self as a women in its entire being.
My natural hair journey started quite strangely in 2009, back in France, where I had lived the 19 years of my life. When I think of this time, or even see pictures of myself, I was what can be considered a weave-addict. I would never leave my house without a weave, wig, pieces, poniche,” – anything, you call it! – on my head. I just did not want anyone “to see” my hair. My hair had become taboo in my own mind. Without the plastic-made, or human pieces of hair of somebody else on my head, I felt much like a blind without anything to cover my African descent curls.
Why was I so ashamed? The answer would come to me much later. It took research, reading, and talking with the right people of course. I say right people, because we all have those friends who would assure you – no really – that your life is not the same without a weave on. They know how to turn your confidence off when you walk around with sweat pants and just – well – your hair.
Going Natural or Losing it All!
The first reason why I went natural, was not because I had heard it in rap verses – you actually did not really hear about it in 2009, at least not in Paris. I had decided to go natural simply because I was losing my hair. Yes, I did. Have you ever seen this video on Youtube where a girl goes to her “questionable” hairstylist to get a perm done? Well, I say questionable because the hair salon is in the bathroom of some random guy…She’s got this purple weave on, which she seems to have kept for way too long, and get a perm done. When the time of rinsing it out comes, there she is, literally freaking out as she watches her hair falling out. This video is actually a parody of Rihanna’s song “Pour it Up,” re-entitled “Perm it Up, Watch it gon’ fall out.”
This video really made me laugh. However, when it happened to me over five years ago, I was freaked out. I used to relax my hair every two weeks, sometimes twice a week if I would notice curls coming back too soon. I know, this sounds awful. Now, thinking of this, I am not even sure how a strand of hair survived. Then, I would get a weave on. One day, as I was visiting my father, he looked at my hair, which was “natural” for me – in other words with a “fake bun” – and he told me “darling, you’re gonna lose your hair.” Well, I disregarded this, but he was right.
At one point, I was fed up of all these pieces and my weak hair. I was fed up not to find me despite the layers of “fake” hair on my head. Therefore, I tried to look for my self. I knew I was somewhere, lost between my dignity as a colored woman and my youth – let’s not forget that I was 19 trying to be trendy by following Beyonce and every other American artist’s hairstyle.s The thing I did not know, is that their hairstyles cost much more than the ridicule $50 weave I would get at Chateau D’eau – for those who know what I mean. After many research – of course all in English, and in the U.S., with none or very little in Paris – I found myself. I found me, standing there at the corner of “I’ve got to do something about this hair” and “H** no, I am scared.”
One afternoon, as I was home, I considered what was called the “Big Chop,” you know this step natural hair girl take by removing all of their hair. I only have brothers. They all have hair clippers, yes they do. That is the advantage of living in a house full of boys. I went to my brother’s room, grabbed what I would refer to as the key to unlock my beauty, and went to the bathroom. Everyone was home, and no one even imagined what I was about to do, not even myself actually. I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked at this image, completely altered by what I was picturing that was not there. I looked at my hair, put my fingers in between the strands. My hair was so weak, breaking and falling out (not the regular shedding, girls). I took the hair clipper and removed it all. I felt so free, so happy, so in love with me. Yes, in love with the fact that I could let go of something that did not define me the proper way. I did not want to be a piece of weave, a piece of wig anymore. I just wanted to be me.
As I walked around the house bold, my family was in shock as you can imagine. I received phone calls from my extended family to make sure I was right. Yes, I was great! What this story brought me was the nickname “Britney Spears”…and love for my new curls that came out months later.
Well, almost six years later, my hair has grown back of course. My curls have grown in a way I could not expect. I was scared sometimes for work, or else, but it never defined me the wrong way. Instead, people are loving it, and most importantly, I AM LOVING IT. The way my curls flow with the wind, the way they shadow me when I am tired and don’t want to take part in the world, or just the way they are. I feel more confident, I feel more beautiful, I feel more ME.