TWA means Too Wonderfully Adorned: How I Began Accepting My Tiny Afro

I can't go natural. My hair is too rough man. It's like a brillo pad.

Me? Go natural? No ma'am. Looks beautiful on you though!

*Scoff* No my face is way too round for all that!

“If I go natural, I'll have to wear braids like all the time, because I can't deal with it.

“Girl, my hair grows too slow. It'll take forever before it looks good.”

Without exaggeration, I could give you 101 reasons and excuses for why I initially believed that there was no way in a trillion years that I could actually go natural-- Like every other woman, I came out of my mother's womb with hair that was not chemically processed in any shape or form, yet at one point, I thought I would surely go to the grave with my sodium hydroxide laced mane. I loved my relaxers, and in short, I was one with the cream. Ride or die with the creamy crack. My tombstone was supposed to read, “Here lies, Maryann, lover of perms.”

It wasn't that I was addicted to relaxers in the general sense of being addicted to a substance, but I wholeheartedly believed in an idea that is still spoon-fed to young girls of color today— that if my hair wasn't long, straight and sleek, then I just looked bad. But that's not the only thing. Society seemed to tell me that if for some strange reason my hair was going to be in its natural state, then “God forbid I have a little afro ball on my head!” My natural hair would have to be big, springy, voluminous, and bouncing around from left to right like the cute little kids and their mommies in those cereal commercials, or whipping my mane around like Solange and Erykah Badu. Yeah, I knew that probably wouldn't happen.

In high school, I got my first relaxer and rocked a semi-pixie cut. I adored short cuts and still do now. Everyone who knew me believed I was best suited for short hair. It was my thing. Being so accustomed to short hair, I figured that if I ever went natural then I'd be “doomed” to rock a short afro for a very, very, long time. I convinced myself that adopting a healthier, chemical-free regimen for my hair wasn't worth it if I wasn't guaranteed a huge, bouncy afro within one year. And I knew I couldn't achieve that. I admired the girls who could grow a giant mane in a little over a year or two, but for me and the girls in my family, our hair was short. My little sister's afro never made it too far past her nape. My mom could go half a year without touch-ups. Sometimes she'd tell me, “If you desire long hair, you will never get it. It's all genetics.” My mom was always blunt with me, and though I now know that other factors can help with length retention, I already felt defeated when I thought about going natural.

Gradually I began to resonate with the natural hair movement in college when I was just too annoyed with my “hair stagnancy.” I couldn't even get my bangs to grow past my eyebrows after over a year. My hair was breaking as fast as it was growing. It was dry and the heat was no help. I began transitioning. My best friend was going natural, and her hair was already mid back when she was relaxed, so I assumed she'd have a “better journey” than me. I made the grave mistake of comparing lengths, and growth rates, and diets, and just getting a little too into it. But the defining factor was when I finally thought to myself, “How can I make this work for ME.” I discovered the term, “TWA” for “teenie weenie afro. I began doing searches for pictures of black women with short, natural hair, rocking TWAs.

I posted images of those trendy, short-haired black women to my blog which was my comfort in my teenage years and still is now. That's when it all changed—that's when I slowly realized that I wasn't doomed and that a short, fros were cute! The more research I did, and the more YouTube videos (Rae Rose being my favorite TWA YouTuber) I watched, the more inspired I became. I had already developed a profound appreciation for my dark skin tone, and by this point, I reached another point of self-acceptance as I began to love my hair.

I transitioned for 7 months before I “small chopped,” and now I've been natural for exactly one year. I know that other naturalistas may have hair longer than mine, especially after the same amount of time. But the truly beautiful thing, is that I do not care. I have the most gorgeous, kinky, 4C, tightly coiled, TWA on my head. It fits me because it's mine and I'm doubly encouraged by seeing so many other black women in the same stage along with some that voluntarily keep their natural hair very short.

Nothing but positivity and compliments have come my way since I've been rocking my TWA, and amazingly enough, my current boyfriend first noticed me with my short fro and has been swooning ever since. (Talk about a bonus!) I've been the happiest after promising to not run the “naturaI hair marathon”, but nourish my hair as it goes for a casual stroll in the park. I like that better. Besides, my hair is manageable and healthy above all things! It makes a statement about my character and my black womanhood. I'm smooth sailing and I am no longer concerned with size or how fast it's growing or why I can't be an Erykah Badu while natural. I'm Maryann and I rock my own beloved short fro. But it's really much more than a “teenie weenie afro.” to me—it's a declaration, it's symbolic, and it's nothing short of a crown with which I am Too Wonderfully Adorned.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Maryann Adedapo is a pre-law student attending the University of North Texas at Denton, studying Political Science, Spanish, and African-American Studies. She's the founder of, A lifestyle brand recognizing darker skin shades and promoting a classy, fabulous, and “wine fine” representation of black women.

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