I Hid My Natural Hair For 13 Years; How I Finally Came to Embrace It

While I’ve been natural for over 14 years, I never considered myself a part of the natural hair movement. My reason for going natural back in the day was simple: I wanted to see my natural curl pattern. I wanted the flexibility of natural hair. So I transitioned. I didn’t experience any breakage, which is actually funny because I transitioned with heat. I’d get my roots flat ironed straight every 2 weeks with monthly trims, and that was it. It took almost two years, but it worked!

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Back then there were VERY few natural hair products on the market. In fact, I recall locating one store in Brooklyn called, Soda Fine, which carried Miss Jessie’s products. I was also able to order Kinky Curly Custard online, but without tutorials or reviews to find online (this was in  2003) I soon gave up. I would simply wear my hair in a bun, or straighten it. Eventually I discovered weaves, and even tried my hand at a Brazilian Keratin treatment, only to be disappointed with that, too.  The entire process was exhausting

Fast fast forward to 2014, I decided to try again. Armed with youtube and basket full of Shea Moisture products and Ecostyler gel, I told myself I could do this. I could get my hair to behave. I could get the perfect and elongated twist-outs like these other girls on youtube. I could do it. I would do it. And I tried, too. For 8 good months, I tried braid-outs and twist-outs, on wet hair, dry hair, moderately wet hair, moderately dry hair, but I was rarely happy with the results.  In the midst of it all I  even started experiencing major breakage. I had gone from almost waist length hair in 2013, to short, dry, and terribly damaged color-bone length strands.

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So in February of this year, i decided to cut to my hair  a short tapered fro. I had never had short hair prior to this cut, but I knew it had to be done. I had to start over. And doing so was the single-best decision I have ever made about my personal appearance. My confidence is through the roof, and the love i have for my hair is a bonus I never expected. I had planned to simply cut it so I could grow it back long and healthy again, but i’m actually loving short and healthy hair. I also realized that part of the problem with transitioning, for me, was that I was obsessed with length. Since i kept my length throughout the transitioning process, when I was finally all natural, I wanted my natural hair to show my length. I went through countless products and treatments to try to loosen my curl enough to show the world, “Look, I have long hair!” And my hair hated it.  Transitioning didn’t allow me to love my hair from the roots. I rarely saw my hair through the process of growing it out, so how could I earn to love it?  Learn what works best for it? Appreciate its splendor?

Now that I’m rocking my short cut, I’m feeling my #blackgirlmagic. To say that I love my hair now is an understatement. My advice to anyone considering going the natural route is to just chop it off. You won’t know how beautiful you are until you do.

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Ladies, did it take you some time to accept and embrace your natural hair? Share your experiences!

Lisa Jean Francois

I'm a Lipstick-obsessed Journalist and Fashion Blogger. You can find me over on my blog or youtube channel swatching lippies and strutting around in 5-inch heels. I'm a also a brand coach, specializing in video marketing and digital brand development. Find me @lisaalamode.

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11 thoughts on “I Hid My Natural Hair For 13 Years; How I Finally Came to Embrace It

  1. While I respect all women’s journeys (back) to natural hair, I have always been Team BC for the exact reasons this writer describes.

    Most of us have been taught a very one-dimensional view of what constitutes beautiful/healthy hair and that view is often at odds with what our natural hair actually looks/feels/acts like. Back in the early days of the online natural hair discussion we used to talk about the two different types of transitioning that often takes place and we generally agreed that the mental transition is harder than the physical transition. The harder you hold on to that one-dimensional view that doesn’t serve you or your hair, the harder being natural will be…especially if, again, you don’t have the kind of texture too many black folks consider “acceptable as natural.”

    Doing the BC is the equivalent of jumping into the deep end of the pool. The difference is that nowadays you have MANY more life preservers to hang on to…if you’re willing to see them and not look longingly back at solid ground…

  2. transitioning can be done successfully, I did it for almost 2 yrs now I have been natural over 2 yrs. The issue with this lady’s transition is the use of HEAT! Three months post relaxed I stop using all forms of heat. Heat damages your hair and transitioning hair is weak because of the two textures. I didn’t want short hair so I chose to let my hair just grow the relaxer out.

    • I understand that transitioning can be done successfully but the point I was trying to make is that too many of us are stuck on this one-dimensional idea of what hair is “supposed” to look/feel/act like. I’ve seen women get tripped up on that…both BC’ers and transitioners but more often I see it with transitioners who are really hung up on keeping/having length. But what is “length” when we’re talking about Afro-textured hair?

      That said: I also understand that not everybody who’s going (back to) natural is interested in appreciating or maintaining the texture they have. There are plenty of women who still want long straight hair…they just want to have it without using chemicals. That’s okay…I guess. :) I fully admit I’m prejudiced…I love the diversity of textured hair and I think it’s easier to get to know it on its own terms, and the quickest way to do that (IMHO) is to just BC and let it grow out.

    • Hi There! Just want to chime in as I’m the lady you are referring to! I did not have an issue with transitioning. I transitioned with heat, successfully, over 15 years ago. my breakage occurred 15 years after the fact due to post partum shedding. What I discuss in the piece is a change in my appreciation for natural hair. I did not appreciate my curls, as a transitioner, the way I do as a big chopper. Thanks for reading!

  3. I love my natural hair and always kept it short by choice as Im a hardworking woman and need to wash my hair as needed without long sessions, refuse to let my hair over take my life. I also love the look of short hair.

  4. I agree! If you can’t get it right mentality as far as accepting and embracing your hair as is, there will problems ahead. Also, keep in mind that there are many women who would love to embrace the BC but avoid it due to being stared at or made fun of because of their huge foreheads, extended hair lines or just big heads. So they hide their so called imperfections behind the hair. I know so many young ladies who want to do the BC and are always admiring short hairstyles but are terrified and it’s not because of their texture/hair type, they are afraid of their heads being enhanced due to having short hair. So it’s different for some people.

    • I understand where you’re coming from. Personally I haven’t seen anybody whose head is too big for short hair…because there’s no rule that says that a TWA has to be all one length. That, again, is the beauty of Afro-textured hair: It can be sculpted to fit a particular head shape. (As I said below, I admit I am very prejudiced, lol.)

      Another reason I’ve heard given for not liking short hair is that their skin isn’t good enough. As someone who’s been blessed with good skin, I can see why exposing what they feel is a bad complexion would make some women uncomfortable.

      Again, I understand every woman is different. I just wonder how easy/hard it is for a woman to fully deprogram herself from a philosophy/methodology that uses straight hair as its basis — a hair type and texture that in many ways is the diametric opposite of Afro-textured hair — if she is still hanging on to thoughts and beliefs that fit into that philosophy/methodology. Jumping into the deep end doesn’t mean you’ll drown…perhaps it means you’ll learn a new way to swim, if that makes sense.

      • Wow I’ve never head of “skin not good enough” for a twa issue, that’s interesting. I guess I can understand that because with shorter hair you can, your face is a lot more pronounced. All your features will be highlighted and with bigger hair no matter the texture you can sort of hide that.

        I know someone who has super long thick 4b/4c hair and she has always been natural, never wanted a relaxer and never wore it straight. But she is fed up of long hair. She had hip length hair but cut it mid-back length. She wants to cut it all off but claims that she never will because of her huge forehead and tiny perched ears. A friend suggested the same thing you said, which was to get a style sculptured to fit her face, such as a tapered cut etc. She loved the idea but then began complaining about how challenging it might be to maintain the cut/shape because she likes to wear her hair out free, without style or product manipulation most times. She wants to be able to just get up and go without feeling self conscious about her forehead/hairline. Which I can understand, I think most people have at least one insecurity whether it’s acne prone skin, skin discoloration, scars on the legs, etc etc…

        Then it got me thinking, I remember watching africanexport on youtube chopping off all of her beautiful kinky hair for a tapered cut but then she still had to go through the process of twisting and layering product just to achieve a certain textured look or to give it a certain shape. Which then brought me back to what my friend was saying, which was that with longer hair, no matter the texture, you can quickly tie up the hair in any style, any which way, pull out some hair for bangs, tendrils and most of all, you can get away hiding a really bad hair day, and or wearing simple hairstyles like a loose/messy bun or long braid etc to mask it all. With shorter hair cuts/styles you have to worry about maintaining the shape and using a billion hair pins for certain hairstyles if you want to switch it up.

        So in the end, I guess it’s about preference, different types of insecurities (not specifically related to hair textures or length) and tolerance(how much time and effort willing to put into hair styles) for some women. It’s not always about the hair texture or length. But of course I agree with everything you’ve stated and that for some women, taking a leap of faith only means you will learn and experience new things, it’s not as scary as it seems.

  5. I agree… I always have relatively long relaxed hair growing up. the idea of cutting it all off didn’t scare me… but i was sure i would have to fight thru an ugly stage… I B/C’d after about 6 months of transitioning… and honestly i loved my shirt hair soooo much… It was a great decision. While my natural hair is not like BSL, I loved my twa and often think about cutting my hair once again.

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