This post is dedicated to every girl out there who wants to go natural but is experiencing a lot of resistance from her mother. It’s a little long, but because of the emails I get now and again, from girls who don’t want to fight their mamas over hair, I decided this is something I should share.
A few times in the past, I have mentioned my mom’s opposition to my decision to go natural. I’ve been natural for three years and it finally hit me recently, that not only has my mom come to fully accept my hair, I can say she loves it, like really, she is a fan.
I talked about going natural with almost everyone important to me. Yes, even my dad! I remember calling him one evening when I was experiencing PEAK stress of transitioning, telling him I wanted to cut my hair. He convinced me to calm down- a good decision because I was SO not mentally ready at the time and school must have probably been too stressful for a yung thug that weekend. Having half my wash and set (roller set) revert on me in no time felt like THE worst thing that could happen- a betrayal on top of everything I was dealing with, and I was so done. The point is, going natural was a very emotional decision for me. I mean, I talked about it for like two years before I finally took the plunge.
To everyone else I talked to, it was mostly bants, or to get a feel of how the world would react but talking to my mother was a different story. I told her, and kept updating her at intervals of my decision to transition to natural because I KNEW she would not be happy about it AT ALL.
Fully aware that it was my head and my hair, I wasn’t asking for permission, no. I was simply trying to condition her because I also knew that to her, my head was some extension of hers. After all she carried the little big head and pushed it out after 9 months. She gave me my first relaxer, in my bathroom (Age 7 or younger) when my kinks became too much for her and the salons to handle. I remember it vaguely, but it’s one of the childhood memories that stick out. Saturday morning, no light. The radio was on, and though she already knew what to do, she let me play the white Just 4 Me instructional cassette with the pink lettering. I can’t remember anything about how I felt about the before & after (I don’t think I gave it any thought, really) but that’s how relaxers became a staple in my life. When I was 16, she discovered the Dark & Lovely Beautiful Beginnings Relaxer for Coarse Hair (orange pack) and it became our relaxer to stock up on. She is all too familiar with the struggle. I inherited her hair (super thick and extremely stubborn, hair that refuses to take. My sister’s hair was/is easier to work with, I believe). Mom in turn got her hair from her mama, who I’ve been told, left in her kinks. My mother simply could not comprehend why I wanted to bring such pain on myself. And, she was also afraid that wearing a fro was only the gateway to dredlocs LOL we shall be revisiting this angle soon. ( ._.)
The day before I chopped, I had taken out my kinky twists. I knew very little about hair care and had even less patience for detangling. So after washing eight months of growth attached to relaxed ends that had been locked in small kinky twists for like 7 weeks, of course it was a deadly day. My hair was a mess and it was either I chopped or I relaxed it, simple. I told her I was cutting my ends off the next day and she flared up. She told me that this thing I was doing, whatever it was, would not be fine, period. I silently cried. Whatever happened to “Monkey no fine but im mama like am?” Guys, I had already made peace with the possibility that natural hair would make me ugly and unattractive, but to hear it from my own mother? It hit a nerve o. Nonetheless, I was at the salon the next day and I let them chop.
In a way, cutting my hair off was some act of self-determination. I am an individual, a distinct person, notwithstanding how you feel about it. I remember telling my sister and she was like yesssss! LOL small victories.
Wearing a weave to my graduation was one of the compromises I made. I had promised to have my TWA covered up for the sake of the precious precious graduation photos because yes, it was as much her graduation as mine. Fast forward today and the music has changed so much that I’m not sure where or when or how the switch happened.
1. Last Christmas, I put my hair in marley twists because I was traveling and didn’t want to deal with winter. When I told her this, she genuinely protested: “Won’t you be bored? Can’t you put your hair into those your twists that you do?”
2. She loves my puff. She thinks it makes me look really pretty and appear taller too.
3. She doesn’t dig the curly styles (thanks to frizz and my yet amateur technique) but she also happens to love it when I comb out my fro after a curly style fail and part it on one side. Like one day, she endured the ugly twist out at church, with side-comments. I combed it out as plan B and she immediately became my paparazzi, capturing the Afro moment.
4. Back then, I had to contend with frequent “Did you comb this hair? If you cannot comb this hair then…” and I’d just shrug and give her the comb to do her best. After fluffing and patting and seeing the fro was just the fro, she would give up. Election weekend, I attempted a Wash N’ Go and she was actually comfortable with it. We went out to vote together, and went to church together the next day. No complaints. At some point on the voting queue, her friend gave me an earful (standard) and mom was lowkey defending me.
5. When she says ‘naturalista’, it’s not derisive- lol it’s more like we are insiders. She probably has a decent repertoire of hair lingo, as she reads the blog a lot.
6. One time, I told her my boss said my hair was rough and I should go get it done. She said no, he’s still in the old school and that I should have broken it down to him. And explained my hair philosophy.
7. Speaking of hair philosophy, we were talking about Rachel Dolezal one day and at first she didn’t see the problem. She asked how different Rachel Dolezal is from people who bleach their skin or chemically straighten their hair in aspiration to whiteness. Hey, no shade to my relaxed sistas but I was surprised. Once upon a time, she would have dismissed any conversations on the politics/ sociology of hair as silly nonsense. But in a way, she’s getting the angle, my angle. She understands that it’s as much a vanity as it is a firm statement of my purzenality or my politics.
8. She actually listened to me talk about sulfates as detergents in shampoos the other day. I can tell when she’s really listening and when she’s mostly being polite.
9. The night before our Naturals in The City 11 meet-up, I came home really late & tired and so could not bring myself to do Washday. I asked my aunty to help put my hair in cornrows so I could wear my wig and Mom objected,“no, don’t do that. It’s not dirty, it looks good to me. Wear it to your thing like that!” And so I did 🙂
10. The morning I straightened my hair, she wanted to know why I was roasting my hair. She wasn’t a fan. I’d have thought that at some point, doing this would make her happy lol but not anymore.
You know how you read natural stories of how mothers end up going natural after not wanting to let their daughters do it? Nah, I don’t think that’s how this story is going to end. She reads this blog, has been so supportive of The Kink & I and maybe just maybe, one day we’ll see her at one of our meet-ups. But going natural? No, that’s a long stretch.
My mom is a simple woman. She is also very set in her ways. She has never fixed a weave in my lifetime but she’s diligent in her relaxers every two months or so, with the Wash and sets every other week. She started greying early, so her hair is like 70% grey, a trademark of hers she wears with pride. No-fuss, happily relaxed with her edges intact, she is. She hates hair longer than her shoulder, so she isn’t afraid to cut and trim. And all my senrenren must have put her off anyway- haha!
So lovelies, the moral lesson of today’s epistle is: if you’re thinking about going natural and your mom isn’t here for that at all, don’t let it stop you. She may eventually end up coming over to your side of the grass (because it’s so awesome! *_* ) but even if she doesn’t, it’s cool. She’s your mom and she loves you regardless of the texture of hair on your head!
Is any of this familiar? How did your mom react to you going natural? How does she feel now? And how did her position affect you? Let’s talk in the comments!