The courage it takes to wear your natural hair…

Based on my own personal experience and the feedback that I have gotten from others, one basic truth has emerged for me: it takes guts to wear your natural hair.

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This does not necessarily only apply to kinky hair either. If you have curly hair and everyone elses is straight, if yours is straight and everyone elses is curly, if you are going gray… ect. It is more about feeling different than a specific hair type. However, I do think this is especially true for kinky hair because, lets face it, its not 1974 and we just don’t see afros all around and everywhere we go. Furthermore, although it is starting to change, we also don’t see many afros in the media or in pop culture. When we do its very glamorous and somewhat of a spectacle. (See Beyonce, her sister Solange, Erikah Badu, ect ect). We don’t often just see everyday people doing every day normal common things while wearing this hair.

The most common comments that I have gotten regarding going natural (and I felt these myself) are: “I want to go natural but [insert husband, boyfriend, mother, sister, friend] thinks I look better with my hair straightened” and “I want to go natural but I’m afraid of standing out too much or what people will think” and “I want to go natural but I’m afraid because I don’t know what to expect.”

You can easily see where the need for guts come in here. Its scary to be different and/or to go up against something you know that your family and friends don’t necessarily like. It can also be difficult to go up against what could be a lifetime worth of negative imagery, thought and language that has been directed against what you have naturally growing as a part of you. We have been made to be afraid of our own hair… what a shame.

So what can we do? Well going natural is about self acceptance, self love, confidence and changing our minds. It is NOT about changing the minds of others. While this can be a happy side effect, the more we can stay focused on the plan and worry less about others, the better off we will be.

If you think you want to wear your natural hair and you feel afraid or self-conscious, there are 5 very tangible and constructive steps you can take to build your confidence:

  1. Write down why you are making this decision. Make yourself a list of reasons and tape it to your bathroom mirror if you have to. Otherwise start a hair journal and fill it with positive affirmations to yourself about why this is the right decision for you. Jot down your goals and what you hope to achieve for yourself with respect to your hair. How long do you want it to grow? What styles have you always wanted to wear? You can also insert pictures of different looks you’d like to try. When people start to compliment you, and they will, write those down for encouragement! If you have negative experiences or bad hair days, write these down too. Processing everything that happens to you though writing, i’ve found, can help you to keep your mind clear and maintain focus on your goals.
  2. Start a blog or participate in online forums where you can discuss topics of interest and issues with others who are having the same experiences as you are having.
  3. Also keep a “styling log,” as I like to call it. This helps you to keep track of what works and what doesn’t as you learn more about your hair. Keep track of what products you use and what process you tried to achieve a certain look. There’s nothing worse than having the perfect hair day then not being able to recreate it. So frustrating!
  4. Find out as much as you can about proper care and which products to use for your hair type. There are fantastic resources available if you take the time to research them. If you can, visit a stylist with natural hair care experience and ask a ton of questions.
  5. Remind yourself that it is only hair. If you don’t like what you’ve done, change it. Its not that big of a deal. In the end, our hair is just one of the many superficial aspects of our being. It doesn’t define us, it doesn’t make us better human beings, and it doesn’t make us beautiful.

We would love to hear your comments on this topic! What has been your experience with changing your mind about your hair?