2 years post relaxer part II: Relaxed vs Natural

08:42 Sandra N.U. 11 Comments

(Part 1 of this post is here)

     NITC 10 was when I knew I had to do this post, but it wasn't time yet as I was still transitioning. I gave a talk, and during the Q&A session a lady asked a question "I'm considering texlaxing my hair, do you think that would make my hair more manageable?"
Up until then I had been answering questions very honestly, being helpful by sharing my experience. Until that question. I gave her some answer based on stuff I'd heard a lot in the natural community. I said, "well, you know a lot of naturals do not consider natural hair difficult to manage. I think it depends on what you're trying to make the hair do..."
And many naturals present concurred "yeahhhh".
I wasn't completely honest. I was giving the "correct" answer, not saying my truth. My short answer would have been "Yes. You'll probably find texlaxed hair easier to manage." Notice I said short answer.

The long answer?
   Let's start from the Relaxed vs Natural debate. It splits the hair community into two major camps: 1]. Live and let live or as I like to say, Kink and let perm (it took a while to come up with this okay?)
2].  The "If you're not natural you are wrong" camp. They have been dubbed "Natural Nazis".

   I'm in the first camp. For me, it's just hair and you can do whatever you like with your own hair. Nevertheless, I understand where those in the second camp are coming from. If you hear why some people went natural and what it means to them ehn. Deep.
      For a lot of women it's much more than just hair; it's a journey of self discovery.  They've come from feeling less attractive or unworthy because they held themselves to prevalent standards of beauty that makes no room for kinky hair; to self acceptance, self love, confidence and awareness of the great beauty they possess.
It's meant so much to them that they want to preach it to everyone; and relaxed hair looks like self hate to them.

    That's their reality. It's beautiful and I respect it but it's not mine.
     It never went deeper than just hair for me.  I grew up having my mum adore my thick, dark kinky hair. I was brought up in Kano around beautiful Northern girls with all lengths and textures of natural hair: short to very long, 3a to 4c. Natural hair was the norm, there were relaxed girls too, just fewer. Why I relaxed in the first place is included in part I of this post.
     I don't feel any different as a person compared to when my hair was relaxed. Hair just doesn't run that deep for me. I like hair. I like long hair even more.
So! My comparison of natural and relaxed hair is based solely on my experiences with both. Finish.
     Back to the question about manageability. I found my freshly relaxed hair most manageable. Hair that straight just doesn't need detangling.
   I could create a parting and run my whole hand from root clear to tip in one swift motion with no catch, no break. Try it with my kinky hair- something will break: my hair or your hand.
    I could sleep with my hair loose (under a satin scarf, let's not get crazy now) and after the aforementioned quick motion, be out the door: no real bed head. My kinky hair will be flat and scrunched up where I lay, poofy where I didn't. Gotta twist before bed.
     I could curl my relaxed hair with just two french braids for a braidout, but I need to make smaller sections for my kinky hair if I want curls.
    I could curl my freshly relaxed hair and then decide to run my hands through carelessly, to loosen up the curls. Do it with my kinky hair and you will wonder who whisked my curls into cotton candy.
   Plain water sealed with drops of oil was enough to keep my freshly relaxed hair moisturised. My kinky hair drinks water, something creamy, butter/oil. Aaand repeat.
   How about when hair is dry but I still don't moisturise it because I'm wearing it stretched and I'm not ready for it to shrink!

    All said. Will I go back to relaxers? Neverrrr. It's all about what you weigh as more important.
   The above pluses last for all of three weeks, and then the new growth comes in.
    Are those few weeks worth months of the two-texture craziness of a relaxer stretch? Not for me.
   Are chemical burns a suitable price to pay for getting rid of shrinkage? NO. Especially when for a lot of styles I can use shrinkage to my advantage. Plus, I love the peace of being free of potentially harmful chemicals.
    Will I trade a big, bold, eye-catching, interesting afro for straight, universally acceptable hair? No more.

     I'll take that extra time to moisturise my hair, to twist at night before bed, to thread when I want to see some length. And if I really want very defined curls, I'll take that time to make those sections and lovingly curl that hair because my natural hair is worth that little bit o' extra ko ba haka ba?
    For me it's a choice between three weeks of more manageable hair while treating chemical burns, out of six months of battling two textures, only to repeat the cycle... and a lifetime of hair that takes a bit of extra time and effort, but the rewards are a happy scalp and big kinky look-at-me hair that even gets easier and easier to manage as you go along and keep learning.     For me it's a no-brainer. For me. That's my own experience.  

    What I'm saying is Do You. No one wears your hair but you, so no one has the right to judge you for how you've chosen to wear your hair. This applies even in the natural community. Some people still try to tell you how to be natural- if you colour, add extensions, wear a weave etc you're not natural enough. If you do a braidout, twistout, rod set- you're trying to change your natural texture to what it's not. If you use a ruler/tape to check your length, you're doing the most.
Gerrarahia with those rules.

  I won't ever let what's "correct" stop me from giving anyone my honest opinion again. I pledge to say my truth and nothing but.

See you in the comments.
All my love,
NGND

P.s NITC 13 IS TOMORROW. See the poster below for details.





11 comments:

  1. This post says everything and then some! thank you!! Honestly im so used to not relxing my hair, the thought of a touch up every few months already seems like work. And you are right, it gets easier and easier to manage the natural as you go along. The number one thing that keeps me from a relaxer is thinking about how less interesting my hair will be to me, i just love allllll the texture that comes with the naps.

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    1. I love it too :') all the things it can do, so much more interesting. I like straight hair, I just now like having kinky hair better

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  2. Thanks for sharing your truth. I agree. Freshly relaxed hair is quite easy to manage but that lasts only a month. Then, it's back to the 2 texture struggle. I know when I went natural before I had major issues taking care of my hair. That's part of the reason why I started relaxing my hair again.

    Are you in town? Will you be at NITC?

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    1. That's exactly why I think it's wrong to judge when someone tried to go natural and then relaxed. Some people really struggle and just go back to what they're comfortable with yeah?

      I really wanted to make it to NITC 13, even late but traffic. Sigh. Fingers crossed for the next one

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  3. Great post, am now 10 month post relaxed, and i must say i don't miss the count down to relaxer touch up, and i never wanted my hair out as I always thought i would damage it, with my transitioning hair i leave it out more, i feel it has the strength to take the wind and rain!! hehe. Though natural hair did make me feel more self aware, but it's been a beautiful journey all in all. Enjoy your hair!

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    1. I'm enjoying reading your transitioning posts Yvonne, I'm glad you're enjoying your hair. I am too! Thanks

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  4. Hey Doc,

    Hahahaha! @ "Kink and let perm " Very catchy, has a nice ring to it too. :-)

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  5. Lol @ gerrarahia with all those rules. It's really just hair to me too. To each his (or her) own Biko!

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    1. Thank you! No drinking panadol for another person's headache

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    2. Thank you! No drinking panadol for another person's headache

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