May 24, 2011

If you don’t try, you’ll never learn

Over the past few years I’m sure many of us in our respective cities and neighborhoods have noticed a slight influx in women proudly wearing their newly natural coifs. In my own personal life, I’ve seen what can only be described as a growing coalition of Fro-Action in and around my city….and I live in Brooklyn! Even a few close friends have chosen the natural route, BIG CHOPPED and are now finding their own way along this journey.

For many years I felt as if I was the only young Fro-in rockin & styling her own hair, figuring out this natural hair ish, not a single relative, BFF or co-worker to share & discuss product info, hair styles etc. Ironically, this imposed isolation I was in really did help to instill within me a strong sense of confidence, especially when it came to the reaction of those who simply could not understand my choice.

But I did not run out of the gates knowing much…if anything about dealing with my hair, and I understand firsthand that this is the most defining common factor facing many newly naturals. Where do I start? What products do I use? How much time do I have to spend on my hair?!

Here’s the deal. You have to TRY.

I’m not talking about seeking advice from you natural hair peers, stalking your favorite Youtube gurus and asking a bevy of questions on the Twitter #naturalhair hashtag (…these certainly do have their place). Nope. I’m saying that you must put forth the effort to  manage your own hair the best way you now how. Get your hands dirty,  attempt to know something about the strands that run through your own fingers as opposed to someone else.

Sounds simple, yah? But what I’ve continued to notice is this need for immediacy when it comes to caring for our hair. This instant need to figure it all out within one single breath or one hyperactive episode of Glee.

“How long do you spend on your hair?! 3 hours…WTH!”

I’ve been natural for well over ten years, and continue to receive off handed comments about how long I dote on my Fro. Truthfully, it’s of no consequence. But if you’are seeking advice from me or any other natural haired gal who cares for her strands with a dedicated approach, yet refuse to transfer it into action…it’s a disservice to how much you could in fact learn.

Time really shouldn’t be the issue here, nor the type of product or styling tool you use, because with practice, patience and a better understanding of what it means to nurture textured hair…that is when you’ll see results that you are most proud of.  What was often a 4 hour ‘ordeal’ mixed with detangling & shingling, can realistically be cut in half with the right apporach. And practice, no matter the intended style!

In reality many of us live busy, structured lives with families and friends to hold our attention from day to day, and for the most part cannot fathom spending anywhere from 2-4 hours on our tresses. But all of us need to start somewhere. Whether you’re natural for 10 years or 6 months, it’s often about the approach heading in. If you’re on this journey, you have to abstain from standing still. Give it a go!

  • ChiCityKitty

    Hey Chai! Thanks for the great post.Your timing is perfect.

    I am also a fellow naturalista that finally found her holy grail after 10+ years through trial and error. I never had the patience, dedication and desire to grow my TWA out, which after 15 months is thriving. To this day, I am not afraid to experiment with other products, techniques and tips from the web and other sources.

    I have a girlfriend who is also natural 10+ years. The only difference is that she doesn’t do her own her hair. She will ocassionally tease me about my 4 to 5 hour weekly hair sessions and say that it takes me too long to do my hair. But I don’t mind the time. I know my hair better than anyone and I have mastered my twists like nobody’s business. Recently my friend revealed that her “stylist” was becoming a bit laxed about keeping appointments and running behind schedule. I asked her how long was she sitting around waiting and she replied an hour. So the total experience took about 3 and half hours. She then started in on me about my sessions and I had to put her in her place. I said that by doing my hair, it costs me time and by relying on someone else to do hers, it costs her time and MONEY. Needless to say, the teasing has stopped…

    • http://backtocurly.com chai

      thanks for the thoughtful response! To say that I can relate to your story…would be an understatement, lol! Over the years I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my hair more than anyone else as well…including my own Mum who used to wash & braid when I was younger. It’s a great feeling! Congrats to you for dedicating the time/effort into caring for your hair….trial & error sometimes is the only way;)

  • jaja

    I think its funny that now 3 hours is a long time, but some of us spend/have spent much longer than that to get weaves and braids. I guess its just that now we have to actually be the ones dealing with the hair.

    • http://backtocurly.com Chai

      i hear you…I rarely spent any less than 3 hours at a salon whenever it was time to either blow dry or relax. The time I put in at home most days is soooo much worth it;)