Going Natural


It's a brave new world, so we look for support in our transition to natural, and these days it can be found in many places. Natural books and salons abound, but I enjoyed the camaraderie of messageboards and websites devoted to nappy hair. Together, we all learned to embrace the other "N" word—Nappy—and recognize the beauty in our curls.

Of course, the decision to go natural certainly isn't the biggest decision ever made. It wasn't the equivalent of choosing a husband, or a career, or a college. But it was a life-changer because it allowed me to make changes in my life.

Simple things like having time no longer wasted blow drying, curling, spraying. Silly things like walking in the rain without an umbrella. Fabulous things like being able to snorkel. Practical things like spending less money on hair supplies. Surprising things like getting stopped in the street by admiring men and envious women who openly confess that they "wish they had the nerve" to do what I did. Meaningful things like embracing "natural" in its other forms, in the food I eat and the products I use.

It made me proud. And that pride is fierce when I see natural sisters on the street who nod in camaraderie. It's fierce when I see supernatural supermodels strutting down the runways and glowing in fashion spreads that aren't specifically targeted at black women. It's fierce when I watch news footage of Malia and Sasha bounding off Air Force One with delicious twists and cornrows and happy, nappy, fuzzy braids.

I don't use the term "good hair." It speaks of an era when the kinkiest of hair was considered "bad" and the looser, straighter curls, usually found on girls with lighter skin was "good." It's a term from the pre-civil rights era, when there was no pride to be found in nappiness.

But everything about my head was wonderful. It was the ultimate good hair. It was great hair—because it was mine and it did its own thing like nobody else's.

In a children's book called Nappy Hair, there's a line I love that says one nap of a black girl's hair "is the only perfect circle in nature." I think it's true. And I've got proof.

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