What “natural” means to me, Jessica J, right now

I was recently approached with the question, “what does being natural mean to me?” Present tense. I hadn’t really thought about it to be honest, but it was a loaded question that I knew I wanted to think about before I answered.  I knew past reasons…but what about right this very moment?
I must say though, for me it is about acceptance and patience. You can watch all the YouTube videos and read all the product reviews, but at the end of the day your hair may not take to anything. My friend called me crazy when I told her you have to listen to your hair. It is as it is with all things. Your stomach growls when you’re hungry, groans when its full, right? Your hair also has behaviors to communicate with you. Listen.
The day that you wake up and the style you were so excited to try turns out to be a big flop–wet your mop and go. That is a challenge! I used to be a natural who didn’t wear my natural curl pattern until I realized what nonsense that made. How can I be proud to be a natural “accepting what God gave me,” and manipulating it into curls kinks and twists at every chance I got? Luckily I work in a counseling office where it is very much encouraged to embrace yourself. It really encouraged me to say the hell with it–and try out wash and gos. Acceptance.
My hair was not growing. Or rather, it was growing but very thin on the ends. I’d promised myself (and my boyfriend) I’d stop being so scissor happy and see how long I could get my hair but long and thin wasn’t what I had in mind. So what did I do? I chopped off about 4″ of my hair. That was around October of last year and I am pretty sure its grown back. I started drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, and taking my vitamins. As a result, my hair grew back thicker and healthier. I’ve made detangling routine, I’ve embraced that heat on my hair just sets me back and have to remember not to reach for that flat iron ((my hair is very susceptible to heat damage)).  I don’t have a goal in mind for my hair besides health. I am patiently letting it grow out, owning that I’m now back where I started from. Wherever I am right now today is all that I’m concerned about. Patience.
I had no idea I even felt all this until posed with the question. I think natural hair is beautiful. Yes, more beautiful than long, flowing weave or a fresh swinging relaxer. I have always shown an affinity for simplicity, and grace. I see natural hair as both of those. The women that wear other hair styles don’t bother me. I’m not a “witness” for natural hair, I encourage everyone to do whatever it is they want.
As much as we want to minimalize it, I do not believe its “just hair”. It is an expression. A form of communication from you to the world around you. As is anything that we say, do, and wear. To deny that is to choose to ignore a very honest reality; that you control the messages you send about yourself. Some people don’t want to hear that, its easier to say people get it wrong or misunderstand, or mischaracterize them. Try taking responsibility for part of it. A misread signal is still a signal, what were you *trying* to say to the world that got misconstrued?
Lastly, I had a few friends who claim they hadn’t thought about it (at all) or don’t feel any sort of way about being natural. I challenge that. You must, because you are and everyday that you are it is a choice. I would encourage them to get to know themselves better. Not because they’re natural, but because they seem to be disconnected from the choices they make, and often times how you do anything is how you do everything. Self included.
Just a little nappy girls opinion. What is yours?

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One thought on “What “natural” means to me, Jessica J, right now

  1. I often get shut down by other naturalistas due to the texture of my hair, but going natural was a conscious decision for me. It made me proud to say “I dont put chemicals in my hair.” At the time, that’s what it was for me.But now reading this, I have to wonder if there is another, bigger, more indepth reason for that choice and the continuation of that decision.

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