I went “natural” the summer before my senior year of high school. I remember falling deeply in love with the foreign mix of textures that inhabited my head. Ever since, I've rocked everything from a twa (teeny weeny afro) to twists to locs. I eventually grew bored and chopped off my brastrap-grazing strands. Three months later, I grew restless again and installed kinky twists. A month after that I sported a kinky weave. Four months later, a straight one. The summer after, a looser curl was intricately sewn to my strands and I've stuck with that look ever since. I loved the versatility of weaves. Plus, my real mane was growing like wildfire. The protective style, in addition to my hairstylist’s gentle touch, optimized its growth. But I loved natural hair just as much. My adoration of others’ kinks and curls, and years of rocking my own were proof, right?
Wrong. After two years of chronic weaving, I realized that denial is a bitch. I used every excuse in the book. I was giving my naps a “break.” I was letting them “grow out.” I was just enjoying “changing it up.” I was secure enough with my “Blackness” to rock a weave. I didn’t need an afro to be a testament to my Black pride. But when I faced the fact that just the thought of going weave-less damn near gave me a panic attack, it became apparent that I’d become just as addicted to weaves as I was to the “creamy crack.”
A weave is safe. You look at the picture on the package, or the pattern of the curl, and you know more or less what to expect when you attach it to your head. There are seldom any surprises. And if there are, you can remove it and try another brand or texture. But the defiant strands on your head? They’re here to stay. Sure, you can manipulate them with products and heat, but you got to learn the way of the fro. With the number of blogs and online resources for natural hair care, it should be a breeze. But what might work for one natural might not work for you. However, what works for one wearer of the same weave will work for yours. Getting reacquainted with my natural hair again is daunting. It’s scary because it’s unfamiliar. It’s scary because I've become a newbie all over again.
I’m just one of many naturals who perpetually weave their hair as a way to “deal” with it. We’ve just managed to wrap all our fears and insecurities into the tightly cornrowed kinky strands under our weaves. We’re right beside the naturals who continually flat-iron their manes because [insert excuse here].
"Naturaldom" is not a destination, but a never-ending journey. It's not somewhere you simply arrive when you do the "Big Chop" and then call it quits. While you love and nurture your kinks and curls, you have to love and nurture that mentality that got you there. We're bombarded subconsciously and consciously everyday with so many messages that tell us not to embrace who we are. We have to actively counter them. I’ve momentarily veered off the path, now I’m ready to get back on it.
Who’s coming with me?
-Audra E. Lord