“Going Natural.” What does that really mean? People say it as if it’s some sort of fad that’s going to come and go. For me, I saw it as a journey of finding my true self in college. It’s a big part of Who I Am and going back to where it all began. I’m an island girl and being Bahamian is something I’m very proud of, no matter what part of the world I’m living in. I will always represent till the day I die.
Home has a lot of mixed emotions for me. Growing up as a young lady wasn’t easy. If you weren’t light skin with long hair, good hair and big butt, you weren’t saying anything. I was very skinny, awkward, but athletic. I have an ugly duckling story. My hair was a whole other story. I was in a click of “good girls” very sheltered, went to church, we could only go out in groups and grades were the top priority. But I felt I was the least attractive out of the group. We were allowed to date but only good pedigree. If you know anything about growing up on the island the first question ever asked to the boy “Who ya people is?” There is an old saying in the Bahamas “Tell me who ya people is, and I’ll tell you who are.” Here in the US “The apple don’t fall far from the tree.”
Trying to find my identity within my click was hard. They were the “pretty girls” in high school. Very girly, into what most girls love fashion, shopping make-up, and jewelry. I was more a tomboy at heart. I loved sports and getting dirty. I was interested in some girly things but wasn’t an obsession. I wasn’t allowed to wear nail polish, and makeup was a slow progression. Every time I went somewhere my father had to approve.
My hair was not long growing up but very thick. It reached the base of my neck throughout high school. In primary and middle school my mother kept in rowed a lot. What we now call protective styles. She just did it because it made my hair easy to manage and stayed in for a solid two weeks. But she herself did not have long hair either so she did not have the knowledge to grow mine. We believed it was just genetic why our texture hair just stopped growing at a certain length. We were ignorant to the fact that we just were not equipped with the tools necessary to take care of our tresses. She used to flat iron my hair with a hot comb on the stove. When I was 8 years old I got my first relaxer. It was a way of life for me to get perms every 2-3 months at home. As a teenager, I went to my cousin who was a hair dresser.
I did some organic regimes with the natural herbs at my disposal. I had aloe Vera plant in my back yard and would add it to my grease Royal Crown. I also used coconut milk as well. I did mayonnaise and egg treatments as a child. As I got older my mother started using protein treatments from the hair store. Eventually, I began to go to my hairdresser and used whatever products she was using to treat and relax my hair.
When I was in eighth grade I got relaxer that did a number on my scalp. I had sores all over my scalp from the chemical burns and was terrified to get another relaxer again. I had to cut my hair in a short style and use prescribed shampoo to wash my hair. It was an unforgettable experience and sparked the desire for me to want to go back to being Natural. I would get taunted and tease by the way my hair looked because I would go months without a relaxed. My mother would force me to get another perm again. Every instance, the fear of those sores returning remained embedded in my brain. The dread and anxiety were mortifying. I permed my hair for prom, by the way, no one asked me to go to with them. Because I really wanted to go by myself because I knew I would look GOOD. I went to prom the year before with an ex and got a glimpse of just how Beautiful I really was. Finally, I was blossoming into a woman with curves, OH GOD. I even competed in a pageant Miss Teen Bahamas in College and placed 3rd Runner Up. Making the Top Five isn’t bad for someone who wasn’t invited by anyone to her senior prom. That was the last time I relaxed my hair after the pageant.
Welcome to America, to the southern state of North Carolina. Wingate University I was bound and the taste of Freedom and Liberation from my parents was at hand. I was an alien in a strange country and had to learn to adapt quickly to their customs. Do as the Romans Do, they say. A fresh start, and renewed sense of identity. Finally, I could truly be myself and not pretentious. No boyfriend to appease, I decided to do the big chop. The rest is history. I Never looked back and Not one Regret.
I Love the Hair I am In and I want You to Love the Hair You are in. Till Next time.