Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Freedom to be Yourself

If you celebrate Kwanzaa, I'm told the focus of the first day is on the principal of Unity. When I made peace with my natural hair, I felt like a new world was open to me, and had I known what I now knew about my natural hair, I would never had pursued chemical relaxers. It was too fantastic to keep to myself. Yet, I experience my natural hair in a very narrow way, by some people's standards. Perhaps this personal choice makes me appear superior.

It's not my intent.

I just shared a YouTube video I posted about a passionate discussion I experienced with my sister this Christmas. I'm so glad we talked, and that we have the kind of relationship where we can be completely open with each other about our thoughts with the confidence that we will hold each other tight no matter what.

I struggled with her position and am still not sure how a chemical relaxer can be considered healthy. We never argued on her right to pursue it but that it was a healthy choice. We all make unhealthy decisions every day and live with the consequences...great or small.

I wonder if I can really assume responsibility for how others perceive me because of my lifestyle if I have not intentionally sent them the message they are interpreting.

I still struggle with the expectation that I voice affirmation about hair relaxers...I have to be me. I'm just not a supporter. I'm not into bashing people about it but you won't find me gushing over it either.

We didn't really resolve our debate, except to recommit ourselves to affirming and supporting one another. Unity.

I'm sure we'll keep stumbling along...but it's a process.


  1. When I decided to embrace my natural hair I did not anticipate the root issues that would come to light (no pun intended.) To put it simply, I had no idea how trapped I felt in my relaxed hair until I experienced the amazing (and very unexpected) freedom and jubilation that has accompanied me on my natural hair journey.

    Add to this the fact that I personally do not believe, by any stretch of the imagination, that relaxers do people any health favors (a huge factor in my decidedly opting out of relaxers), and you have the end result of it being very difficult for me to get excited about relaxed hair. I can compliment a hairstyle on someone with natural hair, and I understand the "aaaahhhhh" feeling of a fresh relaxer ... I enjoyed many of those moments myself. So I do not begrudge anyone who chooses to relax their hair. But actually getting excited about a relaxer is not likely going to happen.

    This doesn't mean I try to convince others to go natural. As you mentioned, we likely all have areas of our lives that are less than ideal when it comes to health. For me, relaxers were one of those things that just became incongruent and irreconcilable with who I am, who I'm becoming, what I've learnt and where I'm going.