Disney hosted its annual Dreamer’s Academy event last weekend. The Academy is an annual youth enrichment program that supports the dreams of more than 100 imaginative teens every year. The program was designed to immerse the students in creative and non-conventional career opportunities and was created for high school students who show promise – but may need a little motivation. However, all of the selected students share a trait: the power to DREAM.

The event drew many celebrities, including Kandi Burress (RHOA), Raven Symone and others.  But, it is Raven who has created the most media buzz. She debuted her latest hair style – a weaveless, short naturally curly hairdo that is much different from how the public is use to seeing her. She told the media that she wanted to give her hair a rest and dawn her natural coif for a while, which is completely understandable. If a woman isn’t careful, excessive use and certain patterns of weave can cause much stress on the hair and even lead to hair loss at the tension spots. Now, I have seen pics of her since the event sporting another weave (hee hee) and another version of a natural style, but Raven looks absolutely stunning either way IMO.  I have the same struggle with my own natural hair. I have been natural for close to three years and – before you applaud – I found out several things about myself that I am not so proud of, but someone has to say it:

1. I have an over reliance on weaves during this transition period. Probably more than normal. I am much more comfortable putting in a Beyonce-esque weave than wearing an Angela Davis ‘fro. I am in denial no more.

Yes, shame on me. Judge me. I am brainwashed into thinking silky hair is best. Yada yada yada.  I actually hated weaves before this process began. I didn’t understand why woman preferred them, especially if they had hair. It just didn’t make sense to me. But, since being natural, I have had a plethora of weaved styles and….now, I am addicted. What’s really going on is that weaves, pressed, and relaxed hair are what I am used to (since the tender age of 14) and I am resisting change with every fiber of my being. My natural coil is very curly (not silky curly, but kinky (borderline nappy) curly) and I have yet to press it. While I get comfortable with this curly look, I choose to rely on weaves to rest my natural hair in order to allow it to grow. I am also 10 minutes from cutting all of my hair off and re-perming it so, if I am not careful, I will throw all of the the time spent transitioning down the drain in a snip (literally).  I am trying to be patient in order to get my hair to a length that I am comfortable with. This transition is about to drive me insane though lol.

2. I often feel more beautiful with straight hair (e.g. I feel like a slave sometimes >> see pic of Harriet Tubman below).

Side note: The slave comment is made in jest. Hold your panties, people. I feel like a slave to my hair. Thanks, Management.

Going natural takes such a psychological transformation (in addition to a physical one).  I am so ashamed to admit this (no judgements, please)! But, I am still trying to see my natural beauty.  I definitely have a permed-hair mindset; I have been conditioned to think that straight, european hair is more attractive. My significant other even says that, although he likes all styles on me (he has to say that lol), long straight hair is preferred. I can’t even start with how that comment irks me, but I do consider his ‘opinion’ when making hair decisions.  I just don’t think that natural hair looks good on me (don’t I sound shameful) everyday. Maybe I have yet to find ‘the’ natural hair style that works for me. This is just all so much to consider…

I feel like Harriet looks in this photo when I wear my natural hair 🙁

3. I also get easily frustrated with the fact that my natural hair has a mind of its own.

I am sure that I am not the only one that feels this way, but I feel like my natural hairstyles look different everyday.  It is so hard to replicate hair styles, maintain a healthy moisture balance, find the right products for my hair, etc. I know I have spent at least $500 – $1000 on natural hair products and styling in the past 3 years and countless hours twisting and braiding it. At least. I just don’t know what hairstyle I am going to get from day to day.  I sleep very hard (not what you think) and it makes keeping the same hairstyle for 1-2 weeks nearly impossible. And, you suggest plaiting or twisting my hair up every night? Chile boo.  I really was a solder for a while with this one but, after a while, it gets old – all it takes is missing one night of pin-up and I will undooubtedly look like buckwheat the next day. I can’t.

4. I am scared to death of straightening my natural hair

(this, admittedly, would probably help with issue #2)  I have only worn my hair in curly styles. I pressed a small portion while wearing a partial sew-in and it dang near changed my curl pattern! Talk about traumatic!  Heat has got to be like kryptonite to the black woman’s afro. Losing your natural coil is a huge price to pay for a quick press. And, if you are natural, but press your hair – doesn’t that defeat the point of going natural to a degree? I don’t have the type of hair texture that will allow me to convert from curly to pressed at any whim. My hair sends a clear message: you get one shot. one chance. kinky or straight. Choose your poison.

5. I secretly dream of copying Janet Jackson’s hair style in For Colored Girls.

I have never really had a short hairstyle, so I am so intrigued by this secret obsession to say forget it and chop my hair all off. (side note: there was this one mishap in high school where my friend’s hair stylist called herself “clipping my ends” and I left with a layered shag. My mother went off! And, if anyone knows Frieda, she cussed that entire salon out. It was horrible and I have a fairly large head. The end ‘short’ hairstyle wasn’t cute at all.) Now, back to Ms. Jackson.

Yes, so sexy!  A relaxed, jet Black, short cut with smooth true red lipstick. I love it. I can picture it now – Mizani perm, taped neck, swooped bang, silky straight coils, jet black rinse, and Chanel red lipstick (with Bobbi Brown red lip liner). Don’t you see, natural hair has made me nearly delirious.

*sigh*

I think we need more detailed discussions on this – don’t you agree? 😉

The point of all of this is to commend Raven for stepping out and embracing her natural hair and beauty. She has always been attractive (she recently lost a significant amount of weight too), but it takes a lot of confidence to go from 16″ and 20″ inch, custom weft weaves to an inch of naturally curly hair. This is a media image that I can appreciate.

Update (4/8/11): I want to snatch this weave out of my hair. It is foreign, like a faux fur. Please. Sweet baby Jesus. Get it out. Thus, the cycle of my natural hair struggle continues. That is all.

21 commets “Why going natural is driving me insane

  1. Kristen (Edit)

    I agree with you a little. I go back and forward with loving my natural hair and then feeling compelled to straighten because I think I am more attractive and accepted in our society’s term of beauty. I’ve cut my hair 3 times so far. One stint I just straightened. Now I am back to my curly fro. I’ve never been a fan of weaves though. I feel like a fraud. But I do miss my cute little funky straight hair cut. I would like to give my hair a chance again and let it grow. I think it takes patience. Give it time. But at least you do have weaves to fall back on while you make that transition. And if you decide to cut it and revert back to the creamy crack, that’s okay too. Its just hair and will grow back. Have you thought about the new thing with Brazilian Keratin Treatments???

    1. mlp (Edit)

      What is a Brazillian Keratin Treatment? Never heard of that. Please do share details.
      Yes, it is definitely a process of transitioning mentally as well as physically. I am going to stick it out, but I am still trying to find the natural styles that work best for me and my lifestyle. I don’t think I mentioned working out in this post. I like being natural (when its just in a fro) and working out because I can just wash it and go; there is no residue from sweating. But, weaves also are protective in that sense too.
      I understand what you are saying about feeling like a fraud. I have hair and a nice grade of it, too. I don’t need weaves. Feels like a copout sometimes.
      Patience is key. And, I agree with you – in the end, its what makes the individual feel most comfortable.

      1. mlp (Edit)

        Admittedly, this post is a bit controversial. There is a clear natural hair divide in the black community. I am on the fence. I think natural hair is absolutely beautiful, but it may not look best on everyone (you have to find your custom style). Just thinking…

  2. CocktailsandCognac (Edit)

    I appreciate your honesty and it is really interesting that you feel like a slave sometimes when you wear your natural hair. I have always been natural and I never felt that it was ugly but I guess this “slave” association with natural hair may come when you have had perms and accepted that beauty all your life then attempt to transition to something else. Either way, it’s very interesting and I wonder how many other women feel that way.

  3. mlp (Edit)

    Yes, it is a comment made in jest. No worries, but the underlying truth is there. The reality is that all races augment natural features to their liking. As much as I do not agree with any opinion that is completely and solely on either side of the fence (pro-natural vs. anti-natural), the truth is that there are some valid reasons why a woman may not choose to go natural. The standard for beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I feel like black women who choose perms or weaves may get a much harder wrap than they should. Thanks for commenting.

    1. CocktailsandCognac (Edit)

      I hear what you’re saying but even though that comment was in jest I think it was honest and valid b/c I am sure that many people seriously feel that way so therefore I think it’s worthy to highlight in the conversation.

      Again, I commend you for the honesty of this post. Many people don’t want to acknowledge why they choose perms or talk about how difficult being and saying natural is when you have had perms. Let’s face it, perms can be much easier to maintain and you don’t get as much social backlash.

  4. Jalil (Edit)

    First of all, NOT Harriet Tubman…..lol, I can’t. All the above mentioned points are all reasons why I buzzed my hair off nearly two mother’s days ago. And yes you were a trooper for all the natural hair care products and nightly twisting (I could only tolerate it for two weeks before I chopped it) I struggled with it for years and years. I think you should hang in there until it reaches the desired length. I will be worth the wait. If you need weaves and braids to get you there, so be-it. If Im not mistaken Keratin treatments are a little dangerous. Im not a fan of formaldehyde while Im alive (unless the brazilian way is different) Happy trails and tresses to you! Great post!

    1. mlp (Edit)

      Thanks Jalil! I don’t think you ever shared your natural hair story with me. I am hoping that my wait won’t be in vain. I think I will wind up pressing my hair in the end. Seems like the jury is still out on those keratin treatments lol.

  5. Kakia (Edit)

    Well remember this…You are not alone. I chopped off my relaxed ends last month and I live right next door, feel free to knock on my door any time to talk about the hard knock life of natural hair. Don’t get me wrong, I do like my natural hair and I am trying so hard, but, compared to when I was relaxed, this is a lot of ####ing work! everyday is a challenge and sometimes I feel like everyone is staring at my hair, my self-consciousness is my own worse enemy. Many times they are staring, however, I have been so surprised at how much people are staring at it because they like it, in fact love it, and ask me where did I get it done. It is a challenge, but my challenge to me is to find a way to wake it easier, work smarter, not harder right? And like you, I can’t put heat to my hair either, and I have about 4 different textures on this one head. So I give in, I am not relaxing it, I am not straightening it, God gave it to me, this is my hair and I am going to deal with it…whatever that means. 🙂

    1. mlp (Edit)

      Thanks for your honesty Kakia! It is a lot of work and I, admittedly, don’t think I was prepared. I feel the same self conscious thoughts and have also received many compliments. I love your end quote and wish you the best on your natural hair journey.

  6. Melanie (Edit)

    Lord knows I’m so tired of this God gave it to me this way, I MUST accept it and honor my natural being. Thoughts to ponder for those with this viewpoint: God gave you skin without a built in moisturizer. Do you lotion? God gave you feet that form to the ground, but you wear stilettos don’t you? Why? Because somehow you just don’t feel as sexy with ashes to ashes, dust to dust skin on a warm glistening sunny day. Because every now and then you wanna turn it up in the bedroom, and foreal foreal you just don’t feel as powerful or sexy in that new Yves St. Laurent business suit you purchased the other day. The fact is we all have chemically and/or not chemically modified ourselves..our natural selves in such a way. Why then is modifying ones hair any different. Here’s what I’m willing to put money on! If, what seems to be, most men didn’t prefer relaxed hair over natural, the African American society of women wouldn’t flinch about the issue. And thats just what i believe. But because by the known preferene of men, women can lay claim that “we are not acccepted for who we are”, women have chosen to turn a personal preference into world war 2. Having friends from all walks of life and culture, I’ll say that I’ve never seen this in other cultures. White people dont have anything to say about their counterparts for using relaxers to make their straight hair curly. It’s only..us. So I agree with mlp. Anyone who knows me knows I ain’t never going natural! My Mizani IS natural to me! And it serves me well…I’m talking “coming to America” well! The only way I’ll stop using them is if they begin damaging my scalp. But I’ll tell you nothing could be more damaging than tugging on my head on a daily through some tangles hair. You won’t catch me using my hair as a way to get closer to my roots! Lol! No pun intended!

    1. mlp (Edit)

      lol – Mel, well said. I believe the problem is that there are many ways that we as women (and in the AA community) alter our natural selves. But, there is such a strong divide on the hair issues. I feel like there are judgements (and secret shames) on both sides. Why should I feel guilty because I wear a weave? Should I feel prouder because I wear my hair natural? Am I a sell-out because the creamy crack is my friend? Everything isn’t for everybody. Just do (and wear) the style that looks best on you. Anyone else that disagrees can kick rocks.

  7. Twash (Edit)

    Great read…I didn’t know Raven went natural…kudos to her. This whole natural thing is really a journey and is a process both physically and mentally. I have been natual for over 3 years and it has definitely been a roller coaster ride. My issue during my transition stage was that I wanted to wear my curly fro everywhere but I wasn’t sure society could handle it. I finally got to a place where I said I have to be comfortable with being me and once that happened inwardly it transcended outwardly. My husband who once loved straight hair would ask (if i straightened my hair) where is your curly fro or why did you do that. I found my niche and I’m loving it. Just with anything in life consistency is key…rock on my sista it will happen.

    1. mlp (Edit)

      Yes, kudos to Raven. It takes a lot of work to transition. Congrats on your 3-year natural hair journey! That is a great point – I struggle with the same concerns. I think society has to adjust to your transition as well, especially if you have been wearing your hair straight, weaved or chemically treated for a while. What is your ‘niche’ hairstyle or regimen? Please share.

  8. ConditionedNatural (Edit)

    I have tapped into the diverse world of being natural. I just recently came up with the saying…I’m a conditioned natural. (This is Twash responding…LOL) With this I mean my hair is a soft curly kinky texture…easier to manage in comparison to when I initially began my natural hair journey. I now do a lot of tucks with 2 strand twist for a more professional look and I use bohemian wraps as accessories. I would have to say that accessorizing has become apart of my daily hair routine, just to add flavor, flare and personality. As woman we wear many hats, and now I have a different hair style for each…LOL I would also say it feels good not to worry about sweating out my hair while I work out and among other things if you get my drift. Being natural is journey but once you find your niche you will enter into being a “conditioned natural” (smile)

    1. mlp (Edit)

      OK Conditioned Natural! We see you lol!
      Yes, we get your drift! That is a definite advantage to wearing your hair in its natural state. I do love just the feeling of being free and authentic. My mindset is definitely one of a ‘transitioner’ – some days I love the natural look and process of self-discovery and, at other times, I am frustrated and close to throwing in the towel. It is a journey. Plain and simple. And, most importantly, a woman seeking to venture down that road has to find her best natural state. Great points Twash!

  9. Lipstick Diva (Edit)

    MLP this is hilarious! I feel that way as well, a slave to my hair, and although I’ve been natural for over half my life, this wearing it natural everyday is another beast. I’m used to the hotcomb or flat ironed look. I had NO idea the amount of information I missed out on regarding moisture and protein until I discovered YT videos and the Long Hair Care Forum. It is definitely a journey and not a simple walk in the park. I can’t just go to sleep on a satin pillow no matter how much ppl preach that I HAVE to twist or braid or pin up my coils otherwise I will wake up looking like a mess and that just means more minutes in the bathroom detangling. I considered getting a sew in last week but the cheapista lol in me won’t let me pay 100 for someone else’s hair to be put on top of my lioness mane. I can’t! My significant other also prefers the long pressed look and I can’t fault him because that is how I wore my hair when we first met. It seems to be a never ending battle but I think I’ve found my staple products for now, until my hair needs change *sigh* I’m trying to find a wedding style because lord knows this bush will swell right up in humidity and I can’t be at the altar looking like a scarecrow on the beach lol No way Jose’!

    1. mlp (Edit)

      It is a journey! I did not know that you have been natural for so long! kudos. That is fabulous. What does your s/o say about your hair when you wear it curly? I think his response is typical of many black men. That is probably one of the biggest barriers for many women who are considering going natural (gotta stay competitive lol). Keep us posted on your natural hair/wedding hairdo options – a great post idea 😉

  10. Lipstick Diva (Edit)

    Yes a great post indeed ☺ I will definitely do one on that topic for sure.

    Well to my dismay he told me ‘Your hair is not curly all the way so I don’t like it when you wear it out!’ lol He ‘tolerates’ my experiments lol I’m still in transition right now and started my healthy hair journey last March so it’s been 1 year and 1 month. I got my first perm at 19 in college and probably only had about 5 or so since then. I have a tough time blending the two textures and sometimes my twist outs don’t exactly twist all the way through from root to tip. I don’t mind the wild child look but apparently he does. smh Whatever son! Nah I do keep his thoughts in mind because he needs to be pleased when he looks at me as well.
    I blew out my hair last night after using the huetiful and he said wow it’s grown a lot you betta NOT never cut it either! So there you have it lol Long hair don’t care rules my domain. Thanks Lil Wayne!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. mlp (Edit)

      I am so looking forward to reading that post! Oh, so since you press you’ve lost some of the curliness? THAT was what I was speaking of in my post! I’ve seen your natural hair twisted out and its hawt. He will be ok lol. congrats on the wedding (did I say that?). Seems like you have been more natural than not, so its interesting to read that you also get frustrated. That’s encouraging (smile). I am actually venturing to take my sew-in out tonight (gasp! *clutches pearls*) and I think that I am going to put myself on a 90-day challenge to love my natural hair. Completely. LOL @ Whatever son! IKR? Your man is a hoot. Men are so naive about our hair sometimes too. If they only knew what (and how much) it takes to get the ‘looks’ that they favor, they would rethink their comments and perceptions. I see you are on team #longhairdontcare like the rest of us. To be continued…

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