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Why I relaxed my hair after 5 years of being natural

First and foremost, I AM NOT MY HAIR - IYKYK

To some people their hair is life and I fully understand that. We pour so much into taking care of our hair, from the money we spend on products to do all kind of magic tricks with it, to the perseverance and time we put into styling it.

It's a lot.

But for me, I would cut it all off next week if my heart desired.

The process of loving and understanding this hair of mine has been fun yet annoying, long yet experimental, beautiful yet disappointing.

I remember I had just moved into my own place when I was living in New Jersey, standing in the mirror one unnecessarily cold, snowy evening and thinking "yeah... it's time". Thus I proceeded with my big chop. Prior to that point, I hadn't relaxed my hair in about 5 months and had a pixie cut for just under a year. I was fully ready to embark on my second attempt at going natural. Honestly, my TWA was my favourite stage - I remember getting so many compliments on it and falling in love with my little virgin coils and how they grew out of my scalp.

Spending minimal time on wash day was also amazzzzing!

I think it was a lot easier to go natural back then and be embraced - it was during the height of Black Lives Matter, Black Girl Magic and black people in general globally embracing their roots literally and figuratively.

I also began experimenting with wigs for the first time and it wasn't pretty back then, chile. I didn't have a clue on the techniques of lace customisation and actually what quality lace looks and feels like. It's crazy because I was spending at least $80+ on wigs about every 2 weeks or so.

My very first wig - I think even I knew in my heart of hearts that this wig just wasn't giving. Look at my expression.

My hair grew really quickly although I was manipulating it every other day. Bantu knots and twist outs were my go-tos and I finally learned to cornrow my own hair... and eventually, others. My favourite products around this time were pretty much the entire Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus and Raw Shea Butter lines. But, my star product was the Defining Butter Creme from the Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture - Jamaican Black Castor Oil and MuruMuru!

Year 2 and 3 of being natural came around and I started experimenting with colour and faux/goddess locs as well as straightening my hair for the first time since going natural. My hair was thriving so much I don't think at this time I had any plans of ever getting a relaxer again and I remember telling people my kids would never know what a relaxer is. That's how much I was over the creamy crack.

However, everything kind of changed when I got back to London and was no longer interested in wearing my natural hair out. It wasn't that I was uncomfortable or anything like that, it was more to do with remembering how dry my hair would get here whenever I wore it out in the past. My hairstyles would get ruined and the thought of having to re-learn ways to protect my hair and find new products to aid in elevating the dryness just wasn't appealing to me at this point, especially with the length and thickness I had now obtained. I'd maintained my hair by myself for the previous 5 years so finding a good salon for natural hair wasn't really an option. The joke was on me though because not only was my hair in a bit of a shambles due to not trimming my ends properly, but between the time I had left for the States and come back, a variety of salons catering to natural hair had popped up, so plenty of opportunities for professional input!

I'd never really been one to equate the texture of my hair with how much I embraced being black - or even African for that matter, but it is a valid point of contention. Looking back at my time being natural, I spent more than half the time using products that slightly altered my texture anyway, products that would make it less kinky although my hair type wasn't predominantly one specific type to begin with.

It's a deeper issue, I'll go into in another post but for a long time growing up, because of my small facial features, my style, my interests, comments from others, etc - I was always insecure that other black people would think I wasn't "black enough" or not proud to or wanting to be black.

Obviously I'm at the stage now where ultimately the health of my hair, how I feel and what I want for myself means more than other's opinions or thoughts, which made the decision to cut my hair again and relax it one of the easiest I've ever made. I think I'm sticking with short hair now until further notice - it's so effortless and is the style that suits me the most. I love that I can go from androgynous to sexy and girly easily depending on my mood.

I am getting the itch to cut off more hair at the front but that's just my innate need to switch up my appearance every so often. I'll do that gradually, but for now your girl is readjusting to this hair, this length and forever conserving my blackness no matter what.

In short, why did I relax my year after 5 years? Because I wear my African pride no matter my hairstyle, length or texture.

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