Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Hair Journey: From Relaxed to Natural (24/90)

So, when I say obsession, I mean obsession. It's only right that I show you a bit of the hair journey. Hopefully this gives a bit more of an  explanation of  the differences between relaxed and natural hair.

My first relaxer was at 5 years old. (Due to an arsoned house and lots of moves I don't have a lot of early pics.) But once the hair was relaxed, it was the same all the time with the exception of the occasional highlights and a few cuts.

So, we'll start somewhere around 2005 or 2006 and go through the transition to the present.

I can tell by looking that this is probably a few weeks after my last relaxer. Smooth edges and straight ends, which means I'd made nice with the flat iron. Yes, even after chemically straightening I'd flat iron my hair. Double damage. And color, which we'll see. Triple damage.

Ok, so this is the day of a relaxer and Dominican blowout.  (Forgive the awkwardness of my man fist, I don't know who I wanted to punch.) I also had highlights then. Now, highlights, or any dye is  especially bad for relaxed hair because the relaxer is one chemical process that strips and weakens the hair and then the color is just another on top of stripped, fragile hair. But, my hair was always pretty strong and able to handle it, so I did all that. Sorry, hair.

Prime example: Here's my honey blonde highlights after a cut that I threw a fit over. (I had a friend in cosmetology school and trusted her with the hair.) This, I believe, was also my last relaxer in July, 2008. Thanks to Nair that shadow over my top lip is now gone too. Uh-huh.


This is a few months after that last relaxer. Sad, sad time in my life. The beginning of the transition. What begins to happen is the line of demarcation ( where the natural hair meets the relaxed hair) is extremely fragile. So, the more I tried to keep it straight the more it broke off. And, of course I had just moved and started at BSU and didn't feel very pretty without the longer, much healthier locks.

So, this is a small glimpse of what the transition process looks like. The beginning of the end of the straight hair.

This was my attempt at trying to make the relaxed hair look like the natural hair that was growing. Of course that didn't work.

So, let's get to the chop and beyond already. I won't tell that story again, but here's what it looks like.

This, my friends, is what fear looks like. If you look closely you'll see that there is tons of texture at the roots and the relaxed hair is basically just hanging. Those curls were dying to be free.

And this is what shock looks like. The Big Chop, March 14, 2009. Yep, my anniversary is coming up.

And, my first day back to school after spring break. All of the sudden I felt the need to wear a full face of makeup and big earrings, neither of which were a part of my pre-chop life.  That feeling didn't leave for a long time. There were lots of days in the beginning with lots of makeup and big colorful earrings. Kind of over that now, thankfully.

I'm nearly a year natural now and to be honest I haven't done a lot of experimenting with hair styles or products. I keep it pretty simple. I'm queen of the wash and go, nevermind the fact that it takes my hair several hours to dry. Now instead of smelling like sodium hydroxide, it smells of french lavender  conditioner, shea butter and coconut oil.

I've pretty much settled into this puff as my default style. It takes 5 seconds and I don't have to worry about it all day.

But, sometimes I feel sassy and do crazy things that never see the light of day. 

This was the first blow dry after six months natural. Go Fro! But, I've never gone out of the house like this.

Oh I finished those, don't worry! 

Obviously, I like the big hair. But, that doesn't mean I'm comfortable with it outside of my webcam.

This is a journey. One that is not yet complete. When I look at the relaxed hair, I still miss it. A lot. But, I  have a new freedom with the natural hair and it is much healthier.

This has been about discovery for me. Having my first relaxer at 5 meant I, along with many other black women, had absolutely no idea what my natural hair texture was. I spent my whole life being envious of curls, waves and coils, only to find out that I had them all along.

As I said, though, I'm still not quite comfortable with this hair. It's not even a year old yet, and I'll need more time to fully adjust. This has also been about self-acceptance. So, I'm working toward that, step by step.


Brad King said...

I love this post Tiffany. Wow.

Tiffany Holbert said...

Thanks a lot! It's odd, it's taken me almost a year to write about it at all.

Anonymous said...

When I was in high school, my Physics teacher, who was white, said that he doesn't understand women. He said his wife spent a lot of time trying to make her hair curly and we (the females in the class - all black) spent so much time trying to make ours straight. He was being genuine - there was no malice in his statement. By the way this happened in Bermuda and he was from England.

The point I'm trying to make is that very often we have things they others wish they could have. I'm not saying that you sould be more comfortable with it because of that, but maybe knowing that might help.

Your hair is beautiful and I bet there are tons of naturals that wish that, in less than a year, theirs could be half as healthy and gorgeous.

Tiffany Holbert said...

Thank you so much for reading and sharing! Yes, accepting and even celebrating this newness is what I'm working toward. I'm definitely on my way there! :)

Riana Holbert said...

Yes lil sis your hair is beautiful and I at times am still jealous but I know I don't have the patience or grade of natural hair you have. I do however appreciate all of the support you gave when I was trying this process. Maybe on my 30th birthday I'll start this process again.

Tiffany Holbert said...

Did you just say grade of natural hair. No grades. *shaking head* But, yes, you should absolutely try again at 30, or sooner! :)

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