Break Up to Make Up: The Story of My Relationship with Natural Hair

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by Amber Wright

Some days I get tired of being natural. Whew! There, I said it. A year ago, there was no way such words would have crossed my mind, let alone exit my mouth. Surely if the thought had come, the little voice inside my head would have quickly replied, “Girl, what? Tired of being natural? Ain’t no way.”

I stopped getting my hair relaxed over ten years ago, but always wore it straight with a press-n-curl until about three years ago. I joined the natural hair movement, earned my diploma from the YouTube School of Beauty & Natural Hair and decided to unleash my curls. I had to transition in the same way as if I had a relaxer, because my hair was bone straight from all of the pressing.

During the process, I fell in love with my hair! The freedom of releasing my dependence on my hair stylist to do my hair felt amazing. My hair thanked me. My bank account thanked me. My schedule thanked me (because you know how long salon visits can take!). All was well.

Getting to know my hair has certainly been a journey. Over these few years, I have learned that we truly do have a relationship with our hair. Just like a whirlwind love affair with a romantic partner, there are levels and stages to getting to know this very personal and intimate part of who I am.

And just like with any relationship, there are ups and downs. Things have been on the uptick for a long while now, but at times (like the present) I find myself bored and even frustrated with my hair. I’m tired of twisting, deep conditioning, satin cap sleeping and all that jazz.

Knapp’s Relational Development Model documents the coming together and coming apart stages of relationship development. This model made me think about how my relationship with my hair has formed, and inspired me to create my own version of what this experience has looked like for me:

Hair I Am: the beginning stage of going natural, when curiosity and excitement abound
Let’s Hang Out: trying new products to see what works and what my hair likes or dislikes
Going Steady: we officially go together and I have a regimen that fits my lifestyle
Making a Commitment: I ride or die for my curls, bad hair days and all. Completely natural and loving it!
Going in Circles: Things get repetitive and boring with the same bun, same puff – different day.
Chrisette’s Epiphany: I think I’m just about over being natural
Change the Game: Ready for change - a cut, some color…something, anything…different!
Return to Love: I start miss my curls in all their glory, break out my favorite conditioner, essential oil and wide tooth comb, and get to twistin’

All of the preparation, advance planning and maintenance that goes into being natural gets tiring. At the same time, I don’t get tired of brushing my teeth or taking a shower every day, so I do it – because it’s all a necessary part of taking care of me. I try to remember that when I feel like breaking up with my curls and returning to my beloved wrap!

What I am learning about my hair is that I have to keep things fresh, just like a real relationship. Trying new things and incorporating variety are essential, and often gives me a greater appreciation for my curls. I appreciate the versatility of being natural and realize that I haven’t been doing enough to maximize it. As this journey continues, I will always stay true to doing what works for me and my curls.


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