I Haven’t Enjoyed My Natural Hair “Journey.” Is That Wrong?

Like many black women my age, I grew up getting my hair relaxed on a regular basis. It was a routine I did not question; I equated it with basic grooming. When the global conversation about natural hair reached me on social media around 2012, I slowly started following some blogs, got familiar with hair types, drank the coconut-oil Kool-Aid and started letting my hair grow out as a self-discovery exercise. To learn to love it, I decided, I had to give my natural hair a chance. I wanted to challenge what I was comfortable with.

After chickening out of The Big Chop three times and cutting my hair in stages instead, I was finally rid of my last treated strand by 2015, and I started wearing and styling my natural hair for the first time. I’m about three years in now, and while my tight, kinky curls have grown on me, the maintenance has not. By the end of last year, after the exhausting exercise of testing styles for AFROPUNK in my bathroom, I had all but decided to relax my hair again. Combing through single-strand knots put me in a bad mood. Every week, I abandoned my sad, failed attempts to braid, twist or cover it at night. I concluded that shrinkage is a form of dark magic. It wasn’t getting easier or more comfortable, and I was frustrated, tired and checked out.

Lupita Nyong’o in Black Panther
(Photo by Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018)

Also like many black women my age, I watched Black Panther a few weeks ago. In a full cinema on opening night, we shouted and clapped when Atandwa Kani (playing young King T’Chaka) spoke his first line in Xhosa. I squealed when Babes Wodumo’s “Wololo” started playing in Shuri’s lab. I nudged my sister in the seat next to me, freaking out that the Basotho blankets we grew up with were now one-man force fields in an international blockbuster. And seeing hair like mine celebrated, normalized and immortalized in an important piece of pop culture brought me a special kind of satisfaction. I saw the movie two more times and briefly considered shaving my head like Dora before trying out Nakia/Lupita’s simple braid-out from the casino scene. When I couldn’t get a simple braid-out right — again — I descended into a spiral about the decision I’d left hanging in December.

Would it be so bad to relax my hair again? I wondered. All my natural-hair milestones came to mind: that last transition haircut, my first (maybe only) successful knot-out. I hold close all the good feelings those moments brought — joy, pride, satisfaction — but they were few and far between. And they don’t stop the dread on Saturday morning when it’s time to detangle and I wish I could be anywhere but in that shower with my wide-toothed comb. The truth is, most of the time, I haven’t enjoyed “the journey.”

Maybe I set the wrong expectations, but I don’t know what else I was supposed to think. Every selfie I saw on Instagram was a fresh wash ‘n’ go, complete with an India Arie quote and the hashtag #crown. Everywhere I looked, women just like me were falling in love with their hair and with caring for it. Meanwhile, I was delaying, avoiding and half-heartedly doing the bare minimum on hair that wasn’t overwhelming in volume or length, all the while feeling guilty that I didn’t enjoy it.

It’s not a self-image issue. If you ignore the self-loathing phase of my PMS, I’m content with the way I look. When I don’t wear my hair in braids, I wear it in the same simple style: a half-twist that curls around the front from a side part, pulled into a single puff with all the rest. I’m a grooming minimalist; I really wouldn’t know what else to do with it. I find most beauty ideas exciting in theory but taxing and disappointing in reality. Real wet blanket, I know, but I can’t seem to make beauty experiments turn out the way I want them to. I miss the familiar simplicity of relaxed hair, the hair my mom taught me to take care of.

All the waffling has forced me to ask what I’m holding onto and why. The thought of continuing as I am now, apathetic and annoyed, frustrates me, but the thought of going through with relaxing it feels like admitting defeat. I tell myself I’m too invested in my natural hair now, that I’ll regret hitting reset, but I know it’s not true. I tell myself I should stick with it as a quiet resistance against society’s narrow ideal, but that doesn’t feel like reason enough either. At the root of my death grip, I’ve discovered, is a sense of inadequacy that has nothing to do with the hair on my head.

As an immigrant, I often feel inadequately black. Both of my parents are from Nigeria, but we left when I was three, so I feel like a visitor there. We lived in Lesotho until I was 12 and now in South Africa, and I’m not quite at home here either. When I was a child, half of my friends were other immigrants from places like Taiwan and Sri Lanka, and I felt comfortable with them because they were as out of place as I was. Today, I never know where to place myself and my blackness, and it seems that people I interact with on the subject don’t know where to put me either.

It was only while reflecting on one such awkward coffee shop conversation that I made a connection: All of these hanging questions about how I see myself and how I am perceived by others have become the stressful background noise of my daily life, and in an effort to find an outlet, I’m projecting. My frustration with my hair, a piece of my identity I can see and touch, is really a frustration with the chaotic puzzle of all the pieces I can’t.

Watching Black Panther made me feel the same way going to AFROPUNK did. I could relax because I didn’t have to find a place to fit and prove that I belonged. My blackness, undefined as it is, was not questioned. Finding my way to a contented sense of self-awareness probably won’t be cut and dry, but maybe when I stop wrestling with defining, placing and validating my blackness, I’ll stop wrestling my hair.

Photos provided by Modupe Oloruntoba.

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  • Adrianna

    It sounds like we have a similar relationship with our immigrant identity. I’m fluent, grew up in a Polish immigrant community, but I’ve only ever “gone back” once. Most of my peers were other Polish immigrants, but I gravitated towards kids who immigrated from Korea, India, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Honduras, etc. (Sup northern New Jersey, we’ve got it all.)

    It seems everyone, ranging from my grandmother to the man selling me a bagel in Coney Island, wants to tell me how Polish they think I am. Complete strangers ask “where are you from” and want to figure out how to categorize and stereotype me. “You don’t sound Polish” is a polite way to say that I don’t seem foreign enough. At some point I’ve turned into a smart ass about it, and I respond “well I am Polish, therefore this is what a Polish person sounds like.”

    Natural hair is something that I don’t feel I have any authority to comment on. It’s easy for me to say “relax, and relax your hair! It’ll look great!” when my own hair isn’t symbolic, political or stigmatized. But I’m sure either decision will look great.

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      Related to all of that 🙂 still haven’t decided…

    • diana mitchell

      I know you made a right decision,beca bec,THE ALMIGHTY made our hair like that for a reason,sis,THE ALMIGHTY has Woolley hair just like you and I.so be proud my sister,repre repr us as a race.

      • Diamond4hair

        GOD also made wool on a sheep but did not mind shearing it to be made into a sweater.


        • diana mitchell

          natural hair is healthy for you.be proud of it.

          • Evil Vennlove

            Natural hair is healthy if you know how to take care of it. I STRONGLY SUGGEST you watch (and follow) a couple of nappyfu videos on Youtube. She an Expert on 4c hair and breaks down 4c hair from styles to moisturizing and hydrating which is VERY IMPORTANT for 4c type hair.

            Hope this is helpful and informative !!

        • Swayderia Jodalina

          So your analogy is a comparison to animals

          • Diamond4hair

            Isaiah 53:6 We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;

            John 1:29 “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world”

            So well— yes. 😊

        • Charlene Woods


    • bullkat

      Why did you feel the need to respond? This conversation is not for you.

      • Adrianna

        Well at least 17 people, including the writer, disagree with you. How are we supposed to learn about people’s lived experiences if we exclude them from the conversation?

      • Modupe Oloruntoba

        @adriannagrak:disqus explained that she couldn’t comment on natural hair but that she had some thoughts to share on being an immigrant, and I appreciate that she shared 🙂

  • Speaking in that general immigrant manner, I have tried to deal with similar issues as well, only to find out I won’t get no satisfaction, like, ever. While my hair is not a big topic, I did try to change my overall style to ellicit more approval in my new home country. It does not work, of course. It did not in my first home country, either: I am too different for those people too (Leandra-kind-of-white being too dark in Slovenia).
    The thing is, I don’t want approval because it would make me feel better about myself: I am mostly neutral towards myself and I like that. No, it is because I yearn for a life where energy isn’t wasted on having to explain myself or suffer indignation instead, in listening to all those fear-related insults and trying to react neutrally, in having to stifle the fear I might get substandard treatment (by doctors, other professionals) again and again … trying to learn as much as possible about the relevant aspects of life so as to know whether I am being cheated, treated poorly, endangered … So much energy wasted. For such a long time.

  • New Cordova

    Thanks for sharing. I have not enjoyed my own as much. Its a struggle and with my hair being so coily it HURTS to detangle and style sometimes. It is also a LOT of work and I feel like I am damaging my hair by not sticking to a routine. Instead of quitting I have gone to protective styles like crochet braids, weaves, etc. It gives me and my hair a break and I can still continue my journey. At times I just want to relax and go. If I do I would feel zero guilt. What,stops me is I want tocsee for once where my hair will end up being natural.

  • Brittanie Gage

    Thank you for sharing this. Seriously I call myself a lazy natural. I just don’t have the patience, desire, ability to create these amazing natural looks we see online. It is so disappointing yet I have not really made a conscious effort to grow my hair. I even started repeating, “I love you hair” as I comb it out after washing in an effort to release positive mantras to my defiant 4c curls. So…THIS RESONATES. I think whats important is that we’re trying. I have to remind myself to be patient with this journey just as I am with other journeys in different aspects of my life (health, school, relationships, etc.). But girl… these protective style twists allow me to do the bare minimum. The natural hair community..or hair in general..its so complex — edges laid, moisturized 24/7, prevent shrinkage. Too many expectations. As you are, I will continue to try not aligning my experience with that of others but instead focus on learning more about myself through this. Thank you for sharing!

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      I have a jumbo sized tub of eco styler gel at home, virtually untouched – I don’t know how anyone lays 4c edges without emptying the whole thing! So you’re right, removing other people from the equation is key 🙂 lazy naturals unite, lol

      • Junglesiren

        Count me in!

      • Diamond4hair


    • Aleda Johnson

      I don’t know anything about living with natural hair, so I’m just curious: Are there salons you can go to that style your hair in those protective braids for you? Or is it as expensive/time consuming as relaxing or doing it yourself? Or is the in between maintenance also a pain?

      Regardless, I think you’re beautiful whichever way you choose to go because it will still be you shining through!

      • Diamond4hair

        It is expensive for some, not so expensive for some.

        Natural hair takes work. Just learn your hair and what works best for you and your lifestyle.

        I am natural, I wear a custom wig most times. Holidays I silk it foe a week or two. I like it natural at home and love my texture. I am not so cute in a fro because of my head shape. Just waiting for it to grow out big chaka khan like fro. Yeah. Still, I will wear straight stylea too because I can.

      • Olivia

        Don’t lay edges with gel!!! That stuff takes your edges out. Use Vitamin E. The thick stuff, I use Sundown. Try Edenworks, very moisturizing. I have 4c hair too. I braid my hair as my preferred style. Our hair is easily managed with minimal manipulation and LOC. For the original poster!

        • Modupe Oloruntoba

          I have never heard of vit E for edges; I don’t love the laid edges look myself, but I will definitely look into this – curious!

          • Olivia

            I lay flat after using using hands or brush to lay down. I tie a scarf to flatten for a few minutes. Its just as good as gel without the crunch.

        • Pamela Callis

          When you say braid, is that cornrows, or like box braids. I to have 4c and looking for a style. Thank you for any response.

          • Olivia

            My hair is pretty short now. I’m growing out a twa from last year, I use to have locs. My hair is cornrowed. Sometimes I twist, but that takes longer. Once I get more length I’ll just box braid for protective styling.

      • Modupe Oloruntoba

        Thanks! In terms of availability of knowledgeable stylists for natural hair, South Africa is surprisingly way behind the US, and living in Cape Town instead of Johannesburg (larger & wealthier black population = more options on the market) widens the gap even further. The product range is so much better though, I’d say 5 times better than 4-5 years ago.

        Salons take care of protective styles, but there are limits – they are getting really pricey and I wouldn’t trust most of the salons in my part of town with anything more than braids & twists (I’m going in soon to have someone do cornrows as a foundation for crochet locs, which I will crochet myself at home).

        And the in between maintenance can be a pain, but isn’t always. It takes everyone a while to find the products and routine that work for them, which is why I worried that I had set the wrong expectations. Surely I should have had this figured out by year 3!

      • Brie Almgiver

        Many places that advertise “natural hair care” have as much knowledge as the beginner; so beware! This is why so many people are making sure they they care for their own hair themselves. (I went to one salon weekly for a press-n-curl & she, my stylist, was sneaking in a little relaxer during the wash & condition)

        • Olivia

          Wow, sneaky.

    • itsallabouttheg

      Team lazy natural right here! I don’t give two shits about layed edges & I legit love shrinkage. After years of struggling with my mass of hair (I have bilateral wrist issues similar to carpal tunnel), I made the exciting, yet terrifying decision to get a pretty dramatic cut in December 2016. There was a moment of panic when the first hunks of hair hit the floor, but there was no turning back. The tapered cut that I got came out hella cute & my hair air dries, which I didn’t even think was possible!

      My shorter coif is easy for me to work with, saves me from the epic battle to de-tangle my hair (repeatedly) come wash day, & I’ve found a hairdresser that I enjoy working with. I no longer feel like I have to meet the expectation that I “should” have longer hair just because it’s pretty thick & grows steadily. At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you & your lifestyle.

      • Modupe Oloruntoba

        I’ve been thinking about cutting mine too! I used to kick up a real fuss about my hair when I was little and my mom always threatened to cut it, and then she did. I had maybe a centimetre of hair on my head at 12 years old. Mildly traumatic, and I still get nervous when it’s time to trim. Hope I can get over it and try out short hair!

    • Mary Robinson Singleton

      I use a light mousse with my curl lotion, just a dab and it seems to help shrinking. Mind you I am NOT an expert, but like most of us having been on our journies.

    • deirdra reed

      I love, love, love this discussion! I have been natural before natural was cool 🙂 And I am on team lazy because I’M IS-lol!

      When I watch those YouTube videos the styles are DOPE, but the tone of the stylist sometimes sounds like the person who is still validating the system of oppression also known as “beauty”. As melanated and oppressed people, colonizers had centuries to strip us of self worth and then, reinforce through the cultural norms of tryung to assimilate.

      Great day that in our lifetime, we are actively seeking to dismantle the need to push against being defined as “non-being” by embracing ourselves as worthy JUST BECAUSE…..and the indictment of hair/crown begins to forge a relationship with ourselves that is loving even if the first step is “hydration”-lol! My grandma used to say “it’s not the hair, it’s what’s under the hair!”….and I want my daughter to roll out of bed and care for herself and it not be defined by “that’s cute”! #teamlazy

      • Modupe Oloruntoba

        Great point. I said I was content with the way I look and I am, but I’ve never felt conventionally pretty – a chat for another day. Because of it, I put other things about me front and centre, mostly in expressing my intelligence. It’s part healthy self-actualisation, part unhealthy cry for validation, and part avoiding technique (i.e. I’m avoiding thinking about what part my appearance plays in me being single, getting passed over for a job, etc). Loving yourself – all of yourself – is really complicated. 🙂

  • Alexis Orokunle

    Expectations always kill it and why is
    attaining length always the goal?Which can be especially challenging for girls like me with fine and thin 4c hair. Just let it go, the ideas and images of others. Short and kinky can be a goal too! How about a life chemical free is my goal. TWA is all I need to be free. Just do you, and be healthy as a result. For black women short hair is a crown in many African ethnic groups. Long hair for us will require ALOT of protective styling, and I am not about that life. TWA forever!!!

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      Hi! Attaining length is not the goal, I just want to be able to maintain it without frustration and without it feeling like a chore. I want to “just do me” but I’m struggling with defining what that is, hence the frustration.

      • Sandra Jeanty

        Bonjour! I think you should be watching YouTube videos with woman that has similar hair like u. I used to be frustrated with my hair also, until I found the right product, the right way to handle my hair. No more pain when I’m detangling my hair! I used to pay to get braids, twist, crochet but now I do them myself when I need a break from my crown. My hair is thriving and I love it.

        • Modupe Oloruntoba

          Got 5 packs of a crochet loc at home, ready & waiting 🙂

          • Toni

            I have been wearing Ghana braids or crochet hair styles for the last few months! Although I love the look of natural hair and have been natural for 10+ Here lately I’ve been thinking a lot about relaxing my hair again!

        • Junglesiren

          Yup. YouTube saved me.

        • Praise

          My hair! O my hair! How much I have bn frustrated by thee! Lol! I have similar stories as most black immigrants relaxed my hair in my teens braid, crotchet, weaves wigs, and then 4 years ago discovered the actual hair that grows out of my head and shocked that I don’t know the heck to do with it.
          No wonder when I discovered locs in general and sisterlocks in particular, I was hooked. 6 months in I am in love. I truly can say I am not frustrated anymore! I hope you find something like that, that truly makes you feel comfortable with You. All of you. Nothing is more liberating than that.

      • Alexis Orokunle

        Understood (i.e. attaining length). I was referring to the natural movement as a whole, this is something I notices leads to much frustration pertaining to knots, breakage, etc. Which are all obstacles to length. I guess I assumed you as well, since you mentioned knots. Sorry.

      • Alex Bane

        With out moisturizer unfortunately you will have problems unnecessary problems with black hair and miss out on the Joy and beauty of black hair.

    • Brie Almgiver

      For me, attaining length to my natural hair makes styling it easier…just the weight of the hair alone helps it stretch a little; but the twist-outs, ponytails, braids, etc. are easier when there’s some length, hence the reason for so many people trying to achieve length.

  • Karen

    It’s a personal choice. Many women have opted for natural hair styles because of thinning hair caused by chemical straighteners.

    • Miriam Marsh

      I agree, Karen. When we are young and our hair and general health is strong we don’t realize that all those chemicals are slowly taking it’s toll over time. It’s not until we get older that the damage becomes visible in the form of balding or thinning hair. In my case, my hair was so damaged from a lifetime of relaxing and coloring that I lost my curl pattern, my hair got limp and frail, and was dramatically falling out. I switched over from commercial hair products to making my own organic shampoo and conditioner at home. After a year of these natural remedies, I am happy to report my hair has stopped falling out and I’m beginning to see new growth with my curl pattern intact.

      • QT Jones

        Awesome….I would like to start making my own natural hair products can you provide any tips on how you were able to get started?

      • Diamond4hair

        Most stylist back then did not care for the hair. They were stylist. Into fashionable looks.

        I see just as much damage…maybe mire in the natural hair community. Youtube killed it all that no poo and co-wash hype. Just another money making gimmick.

        Love your hair and care for it very well. Learn, get to understand your hair natural or relaxed. Just take care of it.

        • IknowwhoIamwhataboutyou?

          And you know I think that that was a problem I don’t think we ever really use chemicals properly a relaxer was designed to do just that relax the hair not make it bone straight. I get my hair relaxed once every 3 to 4 months my stylus does not slap it on my scalp and walk away for an hour he uses a brush just like your applying color the hair gets soft he doesn’t let it sit it doesn’t need to cook you know how they used to do in the old days and then he washes it out. It leaves my hair soft enough that I can manage it but not too straight and I don’t go back every 6 weeks we never needed that we weren’t using chemicals properly and many women aren’t using natural hair properly they’re sending their natural hair by twisting and braiding and leaving it in too long and letting the hair get to dry

          • Modupe Oloruntoba

            You’re all right – that’s part of the reason most of us quit in the first place. but product development for our hair has improved all over, and everyone is so much more careful now, myself included. The damaging chemical ingredients and poor quality of old products as well as the frequency with which we used them are things we are aware of now and do better with. for example, today I would NEVER use relaxer without cutting it with olive oil, and I would not use it half as frequently as I did.

          • Brie Almgiver

            Such wisdom! Very smart! 😉

      • Mary Robinson Singleton

        I am seventy y/o and first relaxed my hair at eighteen. Then by twenty I wmas relaxed and colored, a very becoming light. About two years ago after the beautiful Sistas’
        young, middle-aged and those in our golden years I decided I wanted to rid myself of all the maintenance attached to relaxing. I put on my big girl’s panties and took the big chop. I had not seen my natural hair for almost fifty year. I must admit that is has been a long and some times arduous journey. My first horror was realizing that my beautician of
        forty years did not have a clue! So I branched out; .first to my husband’s barber who cut my hair with the clippers, a hug mistake. After that I went to YouTube and studied my cutting and styling techniques and then went to Sally’s for my products. I first learned to moisturize and then moisturize again. Then I experimented with curl puddings, wave lotions and curl gells I finnally found what works for me. Then I revisited the salons seeking the right cut. It was right in front of me all the time. I showed the stylist the look that wanted from an image on my phone from Pininterest. When she finished I was in high heaven, my hair was doing what I wanted. A twenty dollar cut (complete with a generous tip). Now I am on the next part of my journey and that is color which seems to be a lost art. Have I regretted any of this trial and error? Not so. If anything it has brought me closer to my Sistas’ around the world. I will continue on this journey till I really know my natural self and to proud of who we are.

        • Modupe Oloruntoba

          Brilliant story

        • Brie Almgiver

          This is so awesome!

      • Diane Taylor

        I too am having the same problems. What natural remedies did you use? I just want my hair to stop falling out and grow.

    • Charlene Woods

      I’ve noticed natural hair women my age has thin edges and thin hair and thats with no chemicals. Natural hair gets too dry for me. I moisturize and use non sulfates but after my workout it makes no difference, so I crochet in the winter months so that I can still have cute hair while natural. (Cute hair for my liking.) I also use a straightening comb for in between styles. However, in the summer I get a relaxer, so that I can wash and go at the gym without the dryness or frizz. My ponytail looks good and slick in the summer, too.

      • Mary Robinson Singleton

        Have you tried plain mayonnaise as a conditioner? Just slather it on till hair and scalp are saturated. Put on a plastic cap for fifteen minutes and then was outl and continue with regular regime. Shampoo twice, rinse well and apply a leave in conditioner.

        • Alex Bane

          All you need is a good skin lotion. Black hair just requires moisturizer. Put a dollop of lotion in the hands and massage it through the hair. Comb through with the fingers and style as desired gently.
          Moisturizing as needed daily keeps even the tightest curls easy to work with.

          • Brie Almgiver

            So True, Mary! (EVERYONE needs to know that)

          • Mary Robinson Singleton

            Are you talking about hand and body lotion? I like to try different techniques. Gonna try.

          • Dianese Howard

            When I attended a predominantly white boarding school in the 60s, I managed my natural hair with Jergens Hand lotion. I find that moisture is key to managing my hair so I use an extra moisture detangler….not just to detailed but for general management and edge control (instead of gel)

          • Mizz Peary

            I think part of the issue is a simple curling method to use on your hair that you can maintain easily for a week without having to recurl it. There are lots of techniques on YouTube. After you pick on that’s simple for you (like doing pin curls using bobbypins and some oil, setting lotion and first spray with water and comb thru) then find a way to keep it for a week. Putting it in little ponytails and covering it with a satin bonnet or scarf works. To recap: 1st find a easy curl method 2nd maintain it at night 3rd enjoy the low maintenance of it.

          • Celexiey






      • IknowwhoIamwhataboutyou?

        Traction alopecia with natural hair causes a tremendous amount of finding. Constantly twisting the hair wearing the hair in one style heavy braids causes hair thinning and it causes the type of sending that cannot grow back. I have a relative who has sisterlocks and her hair has moved so far back like Stevie Wonder’s from the weight

      • Joious

        I myself, a formal hair dresser for over 30 years with “hair care” being my major focus. I have always suggested that hair care starts from the inside by putting good healthy things in your body. Over time what’s going in will illuminate on the outside. I lived and live both era’s, i wore afro”s until I was 21 yrs old, relaxed hair up untill i was 56 yrs old, I’m now on my third round of doing the big chop. Like many of us we love our hair, it:s just an intense management process. But we also go through some processes even with relaxed hair. I don’t want to discourage but I do, about relaxers, longer story short, relaxers penatrate the pores through the scalp to the brain. There is a Spiritual connection with our hair and some of us are getting it. When i/we wore afro’s up through the 70’s we didn’t seem to have a problem with our hair. I never heard anyone complaining. I think it was because of what we ate during those times. The foods and products were not nearly as laced with modifications i.e., poisonings, as they are today. We used simple products like stay soft fro and Vaseline and water🤣 and it worked. I can say so much more on this subject, to sum it up up, keep it simple. I hold as truth, that the old products work better, providing if they have not modified the ingrediants.

      • Paige Kay

        If your hair is dry, that is simply because you are not moisturizing it enough, and not sealing in that moisture.

        • Charlene Woods

          I disagree. The salt and sweat soaks up moisture when you work out. My friends of color at the gym all have the same issue. It’s like going swimming. When I leave the gym, my hair is soaked. You would think I swam. Think about this, imagine jumping in a pool with moisturized hair. You would get the same effect. Do you workout? Most women of color who workout who choose the athletic level workouts knows this. Right now my hair is fine, but wait until I hit the gym tonight.

    • NaTosha Evans

      True…when I discovered that the chemicals cause fibroids in Sisters, I had to stop! It is a journey, but every time I rub my fingers thru it, it’s sooooo FLUFFFFFFFY! #Giggling- and I begin to love it allllll over again….I remember avoiding water, swimming, etc. With my relaxed hair…but now, I’m like, “come on water..touch my hair”!!! Lmbo…

  • oliee

    You haven’t enjoyed your natural hair Journey because you are still brainwashed by he European ideal of what’s considered beautiful in other words you are self-hating

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      Hi! Definitely not a self-hate issue, I don’t hate myself or my appearance. I’m just uncomfortable with how displaced I often feel, and the thought of returning to something familiar sounded comforting for a while. Still haven’t decided what to do about it, but I’ll be beautiful and content with my appearance either way. 🙂

      • Tiffany Edwards

        So I too am a natural sista. Been this way for a little over 17 yrs. I am a lazy naturalist when it comes to my hair. In part to the time it takes and secondly to my very course 4c hair. But recently found a you tube by 22nd Century Natural Woman aka moorket.com who has beautiful long locks but takes very good care of her hair. So much so that I have vowed to take better care of my own hair because it deserves to be treated better. You will find your comfort level as well

        • Modupe Oloruntoba

          Thank you! That’s all I’m after – healthy hair at my comfort level 🙂

        • Shanda Robertson

          I started my natural look a few months ago mainly because of my daughter. I want her to truly embrace the lovely hair that she was born with and in order I had to set the example. I did the doll test and I almost fell when she thought other races looked better. How can she teach her children when we are constantly weaving, perming and wearing wigs. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/79db0d65b5b8db91dd288648662f383bed6b7654a08fb4347c84ec724abbefff.jpg

          • Junglesiren

            I think I love you. You are doing your little girl right. That is where we need to begin, with the kids… long before the perms and weaves and whathaveyou’s. Help them love or accept what they have. Your’s is very beautiful. I love the color!

          • Crystal

            Love this!

      • Luella Drew Johnson

        If you don’t want to style your hair or don’t think you’re doing a very good job of maintaining it why don’t you just go to a salon that specializes in natural hair. Problem solved. Besides that you can always wear your hair braided underneath a relaxed look wig if you miss those styles at times. You seem to be making your hair “problem” much bigger than it really is. Maybe, the hair is not the real issue.

    • bervely

      Its not that black hair takes more time to do and way harder than white hair. No one wantss to spend a lot of time doing a simple hairstyle

    • Aniz

      Yes brain washed! When did natural hair become a journey, when you were born with it. Tomorrow you’re going to confess that you don’t like the color of your skin you just couldn’t get used to it. My grandmother used to have the saying when she saw people with Permed or bleached or wig and weaved hair. “the curtains ain’t matching the carpet”

    • Candace Little

      Natural hair is a choice the same as everything we decide to embrace or not . I have 4 daughters with differing hair textures and preferences. The same way one loves spending hours to create a beautiful natural style another spends hours choose the perfect weave. Whatever makes you happy go for it and when that changes change it. Don’t look down on another for the choices we make.

  • Eve

    I stop relaxing 4 years ago…#feeling liberated…#natural hair..#NATURAL!!!! Maybe it’s not your hair that’s the issue…

  • facenthecrowd

    It takes time to find what works for you. I found the simplest thing to do is water like you’re washing it at night, sealing with Crisco and putting it in a banded ponytail. In the morning, I spray with water and lightly pick.
    I haven’t had heat on it since 2015 and have no plans to do so. I’ve learned to work with what the Most High gave me.

  • Oratile Moloko

    Amazing read!!! I tend to even forget that I have hair because I keep it covered under a headscarf almost every day. I have questioned my commitment to my turbans. Do I not love my hair? I ended up with the conclusion that I love my hair but I love the simplicity that comes with tying a turban around my head. I think we tend to question our preferences because we feel like there has to be some kind of profound reason behind that, sometimes there is. Sometimes there is nothing deep in it. A turban is practical, saves me time. I am clearly going off a tangent but what I am trying to say is some people who go for relaxers are doing so because it is easier to manage their hair not because they take European hair to be the standard

    • joswiftee

      Oritale Moloko. I’ve been wearing turbans for 8yrs and still not comfortable leaving home without it. My turban keeps me warm in the winter and protects my forehead from sweat in the summer. I like that it has protected my hairline. But i must admit i feel lost without it. But i refuse to go back to perms or weaves. My hair and me is happy being nappy. So I’ll just meep tying it up until society catches up..peace and blessing my turban sister

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      That’s exactly it – you’ve found a simple solution with a look you like as the result! I think we get distracted and put way too much stock in the expectations of others. I really believe simple (for you) and pretty (for you) are all anyone is looking for.

    • dancewitme211 .

      I, being Hispanic, have natural straight hair but I am not good at, nor do I care to spend a lot of time fiddling with my hair into an elaborate style. I just run the flat iron over it once. At work they make me out to be lazy cuz I don’t do much to it. I’m not handy with hairstying tools & am ok with wearing plain & simply. Sigh.

    • NicoleNirvana

      I thought about going natural until I realized you have to do the same maintenance and sometimes even more if your hair is natural. Good conditioners and shampoo will help natural or relaxed and keep it moisturized with grease or oil. Just because you want straight hair doesn’t mean you have to perm it. Opt for a silk press it really works well you will think you put in 2 perms.

  • Emily M

    While I don’t have any relevant experience or authority on natural hair, I just want to offer encouragement that seems to be slightly lacking in the comments: whatever you choose will be the right decision for YOU! You are under no obligation to prove yourself to any community and I hope you don’t feel guilty about whatever you choose to do with your OWN hair. Natural hair is beautiful. Relaxed hair is beautiful. All hair is beautiful, because it’s not about the hair, it’s about the person who’s wearing it, and you seem like a beautiful person!!! All of this I’m sure you know but why not have a stranger reiterate, right?

    • Njchickalways Smith

      This is what I was thinking the entire time reading the comments…it doesn’t make you less devoted to being black or more devoted to the natural hair movement to want to get a style that is more convenient and makes you feel more beautiful…either way you are a stunning black woman noone can deny that…are you loving your shape less because you wear spanx under a dress…is the concealer you put on you face to cover blemishes because you are not proud of your complexion…you decide what works for you… noone else.

  • Defaultgirl1

    Hi, I’ve been natural for 3 years as well. I original did the big CHOP. I fight with my hair as well. Apple cider vinegar 50/50 works as a great detangler. I spray it on drenching it before the shower and after. I went to a generic white beauty salon for a trim. Lol That lady handled my hair like a BOSS. Flat ironed it, I never knew my hair could look like the BEST PERM EVER with a flat iron. It was beautiful, blowing in the wind. I almost lost my mind. She only charged me $30. For a self esteem boost, laughing. She had no idea I’d been plotting earlier that day on getting a perm. Sometimes we just have to let someone else deal with our tangles to appreciate it again. Best of luck with all that you do.

  • Eraem

    I don’t like my natural hair either. It’s a mix of different natural textures that need their own special attention. It’s time consuming. I see beautiful natural kinky styles but my hair can’t do that or it’s super time consuming. So I don’t think it’s self hating to want hair that is easy for a on the go life style. Even those with straight hair hate it because they can’t style it without tons of product and time. My opinion and just my opinion do what’s healthier, do the pro and con list.

  • Burgandi

    Hi, I understand your frustration. Can I offer a perspective with perhaps a solution or alternative?….have you considered that many people go to school or have a natural ability to do hair?? Doing hair is clearly not your gift (or many others) so why not go to the hairdresser to get your hair done in natural hair styles that you like? Why bother trying to yourself when you know you aren’t good at it? Right?
    I’m quite older than you are and I first went “natural” before the Internet was around. Lol (“Love Jones” just came out! Lol) I didn’t have the help of YouTube. So I went to the hair dresser when I couldn’t achieve they look I wanted on my own. Before that when my hair was relaxed I went to the hairdresser and got my hair done at least 2 times a month, at the minimum once a month. Why? Because I can’t do hair. That’s not my gift. But I’m not going to hate my hair or feel guilty because of that. I go to a professional and save myself the headache. Don’t feel like you have to do your own hair. There are plenty of qualified people who get paid to do hair all day every day. Consider going to the salon. It’s just hair! It’s not that deep. Simply sister! Best of luck! Xoxo

    • Shawn Krumm

      Hi, Burgandi! That’s exactly what I’m trying to do, to find a professional in my area who knows and really understands my natural hair. There’s only one about 30 minutes from me that I’ve been told about by another hairdresser who has no clue about my hair type. The next possibilities are 45-60 minutes away, then it’s 2 hours after that. I’ve been caring for my own hair, and I Iike my hair, but this girl could use a break. Hope for me to find someone who’s good and knows what he/she is doing. ❤️

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      Agreed, I would love to outsource it to an expert, but I’d have to drive across town and pay more than I can afford – they’re not that readily available where I am 🙂

  • I’m convinced no woman is 100% satisfied with her hair. This is our birth right; to comb, brush, style, primp, wig, and weave (and any combination of those) until we’re satisfied. So do what makes you happy. Express yourself the way you want to express yourself, and keep it moving. In the end, it’s only hair.

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      I only ever whisper that last sentence – so many black women don’t want to hear you say it! I actually edited that sentiment out of my first draft!

  • Junglesiren

    Wow… I hear you loud and clear, woman. My story is similar. I’m 56 (not so similar to you, I know)…OMG, I’ll be 57 in 3 weeks! I had been relaxing my hair since I was 12. My mother had no idea how to deal with my hair, and a black friend of hers explained I needed to relax it. Since that day I had never seen my natural hair. A brain surgery at 53 made me stop (this photo is me a week after surgery – my first selfie). My hair is 4b, as I learned through the tsunami of black hair-care YouTubers. I wanted a nice fluffy fro, but I don’t have the patience, AND I’m a very active person (gym, hiking, rowing, yoga) so once I work on it, style it and love it, a simple trip to the gym ruins it. I have never had a weave or worn extensions but I am considering having some locs put in for fun. That said, I must tell you that it was only this very week that I have finally fallen in love with my hair. I found a method for maintaining a fluffy fro that works…. and it looks awesome now! It’s a dead ringer for my favorite hair girl Julia Sarr-Jamois. My black card will not be revoked any time soon, baby!

    My mother is Dutch (her mother white, her dad half black, half East Indian), my dad black American. I refer to myself as black or black American. I have never felt like an “African American”, although I don’t mind being referred to as such, I have no real connection to Africa other than an ancestral one that’s attached to some country there… but which country? Was my great, great, great, great, great grandmother from Ghana? The Congo? I don’t know. But I do know my mother is from Amsterdam, and I’ve been there plenty of times so I have a real connection with The Netherlands that I don’t have with an entire continent that I have never been to. Here in the U.S. there is so much pressure to be the right kind of black person, whatever that is. I have given up on that “trying to fit in” thing. I am black. I was born black. I have nothing to prove…. and I’m old, so I really don’t care.

    You have to love your hair, and it has to work in your life. I encourage you to take the time once a week to put in that Hurculean effort…. but if it’s not for you then don’t let others rule your decisions. If you want to relax it, if only for the ease, then you do you, girl. Good luck.

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      Julia is brilliant hair inspo! And thank you for sharing your great story 🙂

  • Mariyah

    Don’t feel bad the media only congratulates certain types of natural hair that’s the problem when you first did it you probably thought your hair would come out a lot different than 4c hair same thing happened to me I love my hair but I expected it to be looser cuz both my parents are mixed I have 3a 3b hair and on social media alpt of those natural hair models usually are mixed or have natural hair weaves which is not really their own natural hair…

  • Rene D Gray-Golson

    It’s nothing wrong with not liking your natural hair Journey I tried it also 3 years ago and I liked it at first but I got tired of the rebraiding and twisting also I wanted something I didn’t have to do much maintenance got interested in Sisterlocks and have loved it ever since hair is growing longer and longer every month just something to think about but natural hair is not for everybody do you you’re still black and beautiful

  • Teee

    I have been “natural” my entire life and was always envious of women with relaxers. The time and products and money that goes into barely maintaining your hair is ridiculous and overrated. Everyone trying to “go natural” is just raising the prices on the hair products I’ve been using for years. It seems like after a year or 2 of being natural alot of women go back to relaxers and weaves anyways. 😣 But seriously, after flat ironing my hair, it is wake up and go. No products, not reheat, no saturating my hair in the shower with co wash and conditioners everyday to make it manageable. And my hair seriously thanks me for the break. It stops being dry and breaking off exponentially when it’s straight. I just feel like it’s healthier. The process isn’t for everyone. People should stop judging other women for the way they handle their hair. What works for you might not apply for them. Everyone’s hair is different.

  • Shercha

    Hmmm…. I find that following ppl with the same texture as me is easier. I also test my hair and see what works for me because having the same texture doesn’t mean you’ll have the same results. Just do you. Keep it simple. I don’t rock bantus and twist outs as much as I used to anymore. A simple puff will do for me. Although as a “4c” chick I don’t really find issues with completing those styles I find that keeping my hair products simple is best for me. We have to remember the natural hair movement isn’t to dictate to ppl what to do or not to do with their hair. It’s to fight the racism we deal with that the only way to be beautiful as black ppl is with straight hair and we are beautiful no matter what our hair looks like. I wouldn’t condone relaxers because they are terrible for the scalp and I don’t know a black woman that can’t tell me a horror story. Shit I have a few. But the choice is yours and that’s what the natural hair movement is about we are not restricted in what we can do with our hair.

  • Gwyne Thomas

    My issues isn’t that I am an immigrant. As a mixed race individual growing up in the African American community, I feel as though I have to defend being Black. I’ve set through pointless frustrating conversations concerning why darker skinned mixed children should be able to self identify as to whatever race they choose. I am very fair skinned, but my brother isn’t. It not fair to tell him to deny one half of his heritage because he has kinky curl & bronze skin and I have edges that refuse to grow up (A.K.A, A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF BABY HAIR) and skin that burns in the window on a road trip.
    I think sometimes we place too much importance on enthic identification and not enough on self-identification. As a woman who would rather relax her hair, rather than look like Michael Jackson from the 80’s, every time I enjoy a steamy hot shower I appreciate and understand your hair journey and struggle.
    While I love to see natural hair style on women who do not process their hair, I simply do not have the patience to figure out my curl pattern or what products to use.
    My point is whatever you decide to do with your hair, be unapologetic about it. You owe the would no explanation!

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      you make an excellent point, and I completely understand having to defend your blackness, even when looking at me, you would think people don’t question it. Where I live, if you’re not ‘South African black’ and if you’re not ‘African immigrant black’, and if you’re not ‘tourist black’, you’re subject to being questioned, mocked, whispered about and othered any day of the week.

  • tabbitha1968

    I understand exactly how you feel. I have been natural on and off since I was 21. Each experience was different and usually let me back to my relaxer. Until finally in my late thirties I decided I was done and I locked my hair. I was locked for 13 years. A year ago I decided to take my Locs down because my hair seem to be thining too much. while I really do enjoy being able to feel my free hair once again the detangling process is very difficult. Like you I’m a minimalist when it comes to the style. I wear my hair in afro puffs 90% of the time. And while that might seem boring to most people it seems to be the best thing for my hair. My hair is extremely tightly coiled like a pen spring and breaks easily so the less manipulation I have the better and afro puffs seem to work. Although I would love to be able to wear my hair in some of the Styles I see, in the end it’s too much work and usually doesn’t turn out the way I want. I don’t know that we will ever learn to love our hair but will learn to accept what we have and embrace it as it is and work around the difficulties. Overall being chemically free is still best for me while it’s not always pretty it is always a little bit healthier and I think I can live with that.

  • V v relatable.. I’ve never had a relaxer, but I still have no idea how to handle my coarse, long, and thick hair. Which is why my mom kept me in braids my entire life! And even still I stick with protective styling. (I think the only way I’d wear my hair comfortably is to loc it lol) Most people have no clear what my hair underneath this looks like lol. Even through phases where I was wearing my hair out, at a time where natural hair was being popularized and everyone looked like Tracee Ellis Ross (my girl), I think I always ended up dissappointed because I wanted my hair to look like THAT and as a 4c-4d lol, it just won’t.

    Taking care of this hair is in no way fun lol, but if it’s worth it to you, do it!! Hair should never take a toll on your mental health, do what feels good to you

  • Diamond4hair


    I love your blog/article and I am so very pleased that you shared the truth about how you feel.

    For over twenty years I have dressed hair. Mostly black women and girls from all over this world where we have been placed by God. I love hair, I love black hair especially because to me, it is so beautiful and it can take on many textures ranging from silky straight to extremely coily in a matter of minutes. On one head you may see a variety of textures, colors and diameters of strands.

    We all know this by now, black hair is beautiful.
    The reason I am responding is to congratulate you on speaking your mind. As a stylist, the first half of my career was teaching black people their hair was good and beautiful as long as it was clean, and healthy. No matter the texture.

    The second half of my career I faught to teach women to love their hair any way they believed made them feel loved, beautiful, empowered and all the above…

    Wear your God-given hair anyway you like. Treat it well, keep it clean and healthy, relaxed, pressed, coiled, braided, corn rowed, extended or covered. It is your hair, your look, your expression.

    The world is yours no matter where you choose to live, no matter where you lived. You belong. Everything about you. Just wear your hair.



  • Rei Maxwell

    Natural hair is something you should wear when you want to. It seems like you followed the trend and not your heart.

    Relax it if you want to. You won’t be lose your black card. If you feel differently I n the future then have another journey. Maybe then it’ll mean something to you.

  • Livis mom

    Want the best solution??? Gina curl at hairs talent hairstalent.com Gina the owner is GENIUS!!!!

    What it will do is make your beautiful curls manageable and easy to detangle, what it won’t do ruin the health of your hair. It’s the answer that we didn’t know existed but needed!

    I just got my daughter 4b/4c very fragile mid back length 100% natural hair done, i couldn’t be happier and either could she!!! And I will tell you I walked in in tears because I was so nervous – my beauty had amazing natural long hair that we cared for intensely for her whole life – I can tell you we both have no regrets!!!! She has slightly bigger curls now and it took away about 80% of the shrinkage so her length is easy to see now. Very very natural in appearance like A 3c curl pattern – it’s just amazing!!! Im soooooooo glad we never tried keratin, or any of the other treatments – Gina curl is it!!!!

    Check her out on you tube or Instagram!!!

    P.s. I get paid nothing for this just a mom of a teen that is thrilled and want to share the love!!!

  • Ugh hair is so confusing and it can be so much work! I don’t perm my hair, but I straighten it with a flat iron and wear clip in extensions and that’s what works for me. Sometimes, I wear my Natural hair with matching clip in Extensions that match my natural texture. I’m worse than you I don’t even know what it means when people say 4c or 2b or anything about what category I am in and I had to google TWA just now so…..

    I am half Guatemalan and half Trinidadian ( Immigrant parents) and my hair is a mixture of that but its not long and I like a certain amount of length. What you say about identity is so true and valid and I think brown girls face that because our identity used to be so small so assigned and never who we really are and now more than ever we want to break free of that. Natural hair is a way of doing that and it sucks that it ain’t always easy for us. With that in mind you (me too) feel bad because you don’t want to do all the work but you want to represent for your self you want to take back your identity you want to say something bigger and that can also be tiring

    Our Hair is complicated don’t beat your self up or feel bad about being frustrated! You’re not alone!

    1. Try getting a blow out or flat iron and see how you feel before you get a perm!
    2. Try some clip in’s, get nice ones, they will last you for years! Natural or straightened.. have fun!

    Good Luck!

  • Mariah

    Get a perm if you want but it won’t help to better place your blackness

  • Shelia Alexander

    Absolutely naturally beautiful no perm

  • abm

    Thank you for this. It’s great that some women are embracing and enjoying their natural hair, but the devotion to natural hair at all costs strikes me as a bit cultish. It’s a backlash against how black women were previously told to hate and hide their hair, but it makes it that much more difficult to admit that natural hair might not work as well for everyone.

    In my experience, it’s been neither easier nor cheaper to maintain natural hair. I’ve been natural for 7 years, and I similarly struggled with the washing, the detangling, and the mediocre styling results. I don’t think I would go back to relaxing because of the chemicals involved, but if anyone gave natural hair a go and decided it wasn’t worth it, I would not argue with them.

    A turning point for me has been “discovering” fake hair and protective styling. I used to think that using fake hair was cheating or trying to hide my natural hair. But recently I came to the conclusion that my time was more valuable than any statement my hair could make. I put my hair in marley twists for 6 months this year and it made life so much easier. It’s cute, it lasts at least two months, and requires almost no maintenance. Getting them installed was a lot of money I didn’t want to part with, but I just considered that money was buying back the time I would usually spend on basic hair maintenance. I also bought clip-ins for when i wanted the look of wearing my natural hair out, without actually bothering with my real hair. It’s definitely worth it to play around with protective styles and fake hair, and not worry so much of the statement your hair is making to the world. Unless, your statement is: “I have better things to do with my time than play with my hair”.

  • Andrea

    I don’t share your hair struggle but I am FLOORED every time I read the extensive effort black women have to go through to maintain their hair – natural or not. (Curly haired women too, to a different extent, per Harling’s post.) I have so much respect and feel like you ladies deserve an extra day off a week. You’re gorgeous – do whatever makes you feel good and makes your life easier! XOXO

  • Ruby Hayes

    The first time I tried natural hair journey I hated it. But the 2nd time, after I learned my hair’s likes and dislikes. I love it! It does get easier. And you learn patience with your hair and find that your more patient with people. R H

  • Tammy Marshall

    I’ve been without relaxers for 11 years, No big chop, just cut a bit at a time.I got tired of it and the roller sets , curling irons etc. I don’t bother with protective styles, Why ?! I wash and go majority of the time, use a leave in ,then olive oil, then Shea butter, ( loc method ) as it dries I just pick it from the roots not going to the ends into a fro, with or without a headband. I don’t have time for all the foolishness. I shampoo with Eden ‘s co wash or Peppermint shampoo, both last a while and don’t break my wallet. Sometimes it’s just egg whites and ACV . I don’t fuss with laying down my edges…. again …Why . Embrace your texture. Keep it simple.

  • Dani

    I just honestly feel like you are beautiful: hair relaxed or not. And also that all of us women – black or not – relate to everything you said. Being white I haven’t been through the same experiences as you but I felt the exact same way in many other different situations. Life is tough for all. Everyone is fighting their own battles…

  • aninalu

    Maybe there are other journeys for you to explore? If it isn’t that meaningful for you, isn’t it ok to opt for the option that is easiest for you, and lets you focus on other stuff?

    Also, you say your blackness is undefined and that your identity will never be cut and dry. Your hair is hair, if you regret the choice you make with it, then you can always change it again. Maybe your hair can be a sort of manifestation of your undefined identity? If it is a journey, then you are allowed to go back and forth, regret your decisions and make mistakes. Maybe you hair can help you with accepting whatever ambivalence you feel towards your black identity, two things that will always change and grow. Whatever you decide with your hair – it seems to me, like there is no right decision or wrong decision.

    Either choice is fine and isn’t going to define you as a person. It grows back. You haven’t given up or lost or stopped your journey. Ambivalence can be beautiful, and I guess accepting ambivalence and making the most of it (whatever that means), is also a choice?

  • Bianca Marsh Carter

    Just do you,relax it if it will make you feel better about YOU… I’m natural and sometimes I have good hair days and sometimes bad ones. Same as when I was relaxed. I DO know I will never relax again and will probably always wear my hair in a twa.. I’m old school, and don’t mind throwing a wig on from time to time for a different look..Do you honey….

  • LaTisha Singleton

    I’m so sorry that you’re having these issues… I’m kinda where you are… U absolutely abhor the maintenance of my natural hair && it’ll only be a year in may… Though I must admit that I am deeply in love with the rate of growth since my big chop && leaving the hair crack/relaxers alone… I hope you find what it is you’re seeking… Sending love from America…

  • Tish

    I cut all my hair off in 2007 and loved it, however the world around me wasn’t “natural” yet. So at the end of 2008 I relaxed it and cut into a style I knew. I grew it back out and continued to relax my hair. In 2010 I chopped it all off again and headed back down the natural path. I lasted about one year and I relaxed it again! I was in a new city now and felt I didn’t need the stress of trying to tackle my hair and navigate a new city. I also felt I could “look more attractive” with my relaxed hair (especially since I knew how to do my relaxed hair and take off my scarf in the morning without any unpleasant surprises). After I landed the job of my dreams, I had this cool trendy haircut that just didn’t fit the role. So here I go again, chopped it off and went natural. I lasted 2 and half years!! Loved it all! I truly had committed to my hair. Then I decided to dye it and womp womp…messed up the pattern! soooo I trimmed it and relaxed it again. any who…2018 I am back natural now and refuse to go back to a relaxer. I currently lead a super active lifestyle now and having a relaxer just doesn’t work for me. Whatever decision you make, will be right for you and as you see with me, we can always change our minds!

  • Fuller Wms.Evans

    Maybe because I was ready to embrace my natural hair or that I am a baby boomer. I have totally enjoyed my journey, now 7 years and there months. I am invested. I have had my struggles, that’s part of the process. #notgoingback this is not for everyone. You must be strong.

  • Owiredua

    For anyone considering relaxing their hair, please read about the possible links with uterine cancer/fibroids etc first and make an informed decision! :/

  • Valencia Greenidge

    This is a really great read!!! Style your hair however you want! But is true that black hair takes a little more maintenance and care, unless it will get matted, dry and dull. By the looks of your hair texture, water, raw Shea butter, and coconut oil is your hair’s best friend. I don’t know if South Africa carries Shea Moisture’s “Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk”, but it does wanders for my hair, and my texture is similar to you’rs. Btw, I’m sure twists don’t look as bad as you may think on you! But if you don’t like your natural hair, don’t wear it natural. I would just leave it natural long enough to see what works and doesn’t work for your hair and then transition.

  • Sara

    I think you look great with natural hair and it’s ok not to love it every day. Sis…that’s what weaves, braids and headwraps are for! They offer a temporary change when you need it. Your hair doesn’t have to be a political statement that defines you.

  • Marlique Sheed

    I completely understand this strange place your in. I have been natural for almost ten years now and have gone through more than a few stages in this short time in my hair journey. And each of those stages have resulted in me cutting most if not all my hair and starting over.

    There was the period where I had no clue what I was doing and what products I should use, which ushered in the stage of the Natural Hair Nazi, followed by a period I call “Youtube Inspired” where I tried just about every style I saw amongst Youtube naturalistas. Then I started the stage I call “Color Me Bad”, because…dye is cool….and I was probably bored of my hair, either way, damage happened. I ended up nursing my hair back to health which eventually led me to my most recent and last experiment where I decided I would heat train my hair and wear it straight. This ended once I started missing my curls.

    Now I’m currently into a year and a half of being my version of a lazy natural. Where I clean and deep condition my hair once a month before installing mini twists which I wear for a month. I moisturize my twists as needed but keep it moving. My hair has become so much more manageable and has grown leaps and bounds.

    I feel like I am finally content now, and I no longer feel that itch to do something different like I used to. But you never know things may change and suddenly I’ll want to do something else to my hair and you know what? That’s okay. I feel like we SHOULD experiment with hair. If you want a a relaxer GET ONE, wear it and love it! And later if you start missing your Natural hair…well…hair grows back. We only live once. Why should your hair be tied to any emotional turmoil within yourself? Your hair is not the enemy you are making it out to be, hair can be just as resilient as we can be, if not more…

  • Erika Warren

    I never bought into the whole natural thing. I hate high maintenance hair so doing all that stuff turned me off immediately. I’ve been relaxing my hair for years and my hair is down to the middle of my back. There’s ways to keep your hair moisturized and healthy while relaxing it, just takes education.

  • Sheba

    I think you’re beautiful. With or without hair and even if you relaxed it you could wear it in many African styles also Gorilla Glue great instead of perming it to manage your hair, it smooths our hair very nicely and makes your hair look permed but more natural I’m also proud of you you’re an excellent writer keep up the good work beautiful you have a bright future and writing.

  • Sheba

    I think you’re beautiful you could use Argan Oil snot gel it relaxes your hair very nicely and makes it look like a perm but natural you can wear it in African styles anyway I think you’re beautiful with or without hair and I’m proud of you you have a great future in writing

  • Swayderia Jodalina

    Extremely honest. I was lazy about taking care of my permed hair, nothing’s changed. I’ve never been the woman who makes grooming habits a priority. I’ve always been wash and go. And I knew nothing about the the whole natural hair journey experience when I decided to stop perming, I was just tired of perming. The sense of identity and racial pride that came with it was unexpected. Is it more work, yep in some ways. Will I go back to perming, maybe. Because the other thing I learned during my journey is I am not my hair. My hair is part of me and the I can do with our what I want. I think that’s the absolute best thing about natural hair for black people, the freedom to be who you are.

  • Sheba

    Also try The Mane Choice biotin infused styling gel great for African hair management and hair growth

  • Jamie Williams

    Been there. Grew out my hair, cut it all off, decided to relax it again after years of natural. I had to. I am rocking a fro again these days. No regrets, I just had to go backwards to move forward. All that said, hair’s gonna grow. Shave it! You’d look fly as f@#$!

  • Lizlemon

    I came to the same conclusion as you. When my hair became about me and not about renewing my black card, I was able to enjoy it more. It can definitely be work with detangling!

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      This! Thank you 🙂

  • Amy L Campbell

    Yaaaaaaay @modupeoloruntoba:disqus so happy for you!

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      hahahaha, thanks Amy!!!

  • lahla

    Too much hype! I want my relaxer back but then I was still blow drying it and flat ironing my hair. So my compromise is no relaxer but blow it out & flat iron it. Aussie 3x deep conditioner makes it possible for $3 not $32!! I use a leave in, setting lotion, and serum. I add a touch of grease if needed to help fight humidity.

    The trouble is relaxer or not, most dont know how to take care of their hair. Nobody is trying to be European! Im so sick of that guilt trip. When it take 2 days to do your hair- that is ridiculous!! Its about wanting healthy MANAGEABLE hair. After banning grease with years of relaxers I find my natural hair is dry & needs help with moisture.

    If Im going to add hair for a natural Protective style, I may as well go ahead & put my protective weave back in. Do what is best for you!

  • Bella

    Thank you for speaking your truth!! I totally understand…I too live it everyday, I’m amazed/ proud of my natural hair, but it is work, my secret throw a temporary perm on…I call them DIVA 1, 2, 3 my wigs. Ready to bread up for a while😊

  • Adorn Barrett Scott

    Honey it doesn’t mean you don’t love your African American roots because you’re not feeling your natural roots…a lot people need to admit it… I just did…thanks for sharing!

  • ppoppersince95

    This was so great to hear… that I am not the only one who is like why am I doing this… my hair is super dry.. even though I do everything to moisturize… so I ended up wearing wigs and weaves… I am thinking about.. Japanese straightening it’s less damaging than perms… and the results are amazing… YouTube and check it out.

  • Joanne B Lewis

    My dear, your truth about your hair is yours. It is neither right or wrong. As an elder woman, I say to you that you are beautiful. You are to enjoy everyday of your life. You will grow into my different “you” as you live this life. Just do you and be happy and remember, “You are already enough and beautiful just as you are” . You are perfect.

    Joanne B. Lewis

  • Adorn Barrett Scott

    I would like to add it’s your choice. Madam C.J. Walker created the relaxer so thay we could have choices. Whatever makes you feel beautiful on the outside do it! You are already a beauty within… Blessings!

  • tay col

    I’ve mosfly been natural. During jr high school Press and curls every two weeks ; my hair grew half way down my back; easy to manage ..my hair can go from looking thin to thick really quick .. I had 1 perm and 1 keratin treatment back in 2012.. Oo not too mention as a lil girl I had an wave novel And curl.. after I had my baby a yr ago , I have been natural, only got my hair straightened out twice a year. I’m struggling with it being natural . Think I’m get keratin or wash n sets to train it back straight . Ugh

  • IknowwhoIamwhataboutyou?

    You know I was born black and I’ll die black and I’m Proud and I’m happy but I don’t have hours to do my hair. I relax my hair once every 3 months to keep it soft and easy to manage not because I want to be white I could give a s*** about white people. I wrap my hair at night and it takes me 3 minutes to do my hair in the morning unwrap and maybe occasionally a little bump. I wash my hair once a week and I get it relax once every 3 months my hair does not rule my life. I can take a shower I can work out I can swim whatever I can pull it back in a bun. People since Egypt have been manipulating their hair we as black women have to stop torturing yourself. White women manipulate their hair curl it they straighten it they color it they tease it we just we put too much pressure on ourselves. Women out here using everything in the kitchen once every 3 days to try to make their hair curly and quite frankly they’re still chasing something they’re chasing mix race texture curls that they do not have and no amount of coconut oil and overnight washing is going to make you have that type of curl. People should do what they want with their head and other people should mind their own damn business

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      *mic drop*

  • Shameless

    I think it’s interesting that people consider relaxing their hair abandoning African culture for European. However have no problem attaching hair from every other Continent but their own to their heads.

    • Alex Bane

      Thanks for pointing out the facts

  • Wanda Cadogan

    Every black woman on this earth should get the book “The Science of Black Hair”. As the name implies, it literally explains the science of our hair. After reading the book you will know in no uncertain terms how to care for your hair, whether natural or relaxed. I can’t say enough about that book! Please note that I’m not in anyway affiliated with the author/publisher.

  • Joi

    I understand.. I’ve even thought of getting Locs to escape the relaxing process,,, but it’s not easy! I get irritated by having to deal with the detangling process of my natural hair, knowing that if I use heavy oils the process would be MUCH Easier… yet I never have time to sit around the house with overly saturated hair just to anticipate the “Comb Out”… So I Relax my hair,,, trying not to do it more than every 4 months which is 3x’s per year… I developed a regimen of relaxing my hair and quickly getting a weave or braids put in after 2weeks, just to control shedding and breakage… Owell at this point I look at it as something I do to make my life easier, keep my STRESS levels down and to maintain my healthy tresses. I’m Happy, and that’s all that matters.

  • florencetine jasmin

    I have been natural since 2008. Easy, peasy! Wash, a little oil, twist, braid, or just go. Trim ends when needed. I do just what my mama did, when she cared for my hair when I was little. I didn’t have a perm. My hair was healthy then, and it’s healthy now. Not thinning, got all my edges! I permed and colored in my 20-40s. I’m 67 now, salt and pepper natural. I dont put heat, yarn, string, “units”, or glue in my hair. It’s not a science project. Just my opinion. Your hair, your rules.

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      My hair, my rules. thank you 🙂

      • florencetine jasmin

        You are welcome! Girl, hair ain’t that serious. You know best what you want to do with yourself and your hair. Thank God my being, self-worth, grace, and mercy ain’t tied up into how I wear my hair (there’s a book in there somewhere😊). Be you, live, you, and keep it moving! Glad i read your story!!! Who knows I might dye this salt and pepper purple tomorrow, after all, it is my favorite color.

  • Trina Sheppard

    Find yourself in the beauty you were created to be inside out. Your hair is your glory so find your refuge in it; by living in all of your most glorious fabulous and phenomenal moments. Those of which have been surpassing you for years because you were focused on the wrong view (what you had believe to be truth (perm)). Truth be told you haven’t been truthful with yourself by loving every attribute of your own natural glowing beauty. We so easily entangle ourselves with the view of the world instead of our own insightful acceptance of “ME”. LOVE all of you mind body soul and hair. U DESERVE to be enjoyed by you!
    Tes E Shepp

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      I’ve never subscribed to my hair being my glory – it’s just not that emotional a relationship for me?

      • Tes Shepp

        LOL, i like you without even knowing you.
        Unfortunately, none of us signed up or subscribe. It’s just who God made us to be as women the scripture speaks about are hair being on Glory (1 Cor. 11:15) we’re covered by it. it’s our pride!(a good thing)… we can’t get away from it.

        we just have to take ownership of who we you are!

        And you my young lady are beautiful! made in God’s image the apple of his eye the loving core of his heart. psalms 17:8/zechariah 2:8.

        He made us natural from head to toe and he knew exactly what he was doing.
        All I’m saying is you have no reason to need to change your image by cutting or perming your hair look deeper within you are really beautiful your hair looks fine and there’s so much that can be done with natural hair have fun with it get involved in it explore it discover new things that you can do and how beautiful even more so you can become with it.

        When I want to change up in the way I look regarding my hair I go to YouTube, internet, and friends that are very educated in the health and design of hair.

        And, using that collaboration of info
        I create a new look and I live it, I own it, and it becomes me.
        All I see is another beautiful creation until it’s time to start over again.

        Ultimately it’s your decision because it is your hair. I my sister is just here to encourage you to love it the way it is (AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL)

        live w purpose – endure the progress – finish strong

  • Anita Nixon

    Go to the salon just like you did when you had a relaxer.

  • Modupe Oloruntoba

    Really want to reply to everyone below but might not get to it – thank you so much for sharing all your hair stories!!! Amazing.

    PS, I have to shout out MR’s Erica Williams because her hair is GORGEOUS.

  • Modupe Oloruntoba

    I want to reply so many comments but I might not get to them all. Just want to say thank you so much for sharing your stories!!! Amazing.

    And shout out to MR’s Erica Smith, solely because her hair is AWESOME, as evidenced by these photos: https://www.manrepeller.com/minor_cogitations/get-to-know-team-mr-erica-managing-editor.html

  • Mal-Selika H Perry

    Afros are work, quite a commitment! I wanted my hair to stay natural and healthy so I decided to loc my hair. It was the best decision for me….still quite a commitment, it made my life a LOT easier. It’s been 22 years and I still love them!! Keep in mind, long term use of relaxers can’t be healthy. Thoroughly enjoyed the article. :*

  • Pat Bennett

    Dear beautiful black queen, You are entitled to wear your hair as you choose…i am 48 and I have tried many looks and natural hair as well… I have very curly hair that is impossible to straighten. Relaxers make it come completely fall off my head so I embraced it curly…if you don’t want to be natural anymore you can where your hair in a style that you can manage!! Love yourself and be brave and bold….check out my mohawk!! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/09b1be803f564c7ac5ca4dbbf23ef6008db3677d2f9d494211735b1301fc8f35.jpg

  • Valerie M Walker

    Ah, the most common reaction to the question of belonging and fitting in. Thank you for sharing one of the most honest feelings on self reflection. When I was faced with the defining self and fitting in, I found no solace outside of my own expectations, so I reasoned, I was not born to fit in but to stand out. To bring to the fore front bad hair days of my own kind, beauty defined by me and embracing my individuality. And just showing up as my own definition of loving and most importantly self love. I can look great or look a mess. I am still Love. I am ano fuss hair care person myself, and since the norm was relax cut style thats what I did for 50 yes. I am only now relearning how my natural hair looks best for me I have a draw ful of nature hair care products I experiment with,finally found what works best for me and you will to keep at it. Blessing to you sister. Peace

  • Chiquita Earl

    Every well said. But your blackness is both your beauty and your strength . commit to your hair and your hair will commit back to you, it will become trained but when you only half at it you will always end up back at step one. You are more than your skin and hair embrace the WHOLE of your beauty.

  • Angela Darton Bluford

    This article should have stayed in the conciousness of this young ladies mind and not shared on social media to continue to devalue the greatness of Nubian hair

  • Brigitte Vicenty

    Great read!
    It wouldn’t be sabatoge to blow it out for manageability and a straighter look. Please visit http://www.hairchurch.com, we understand your perspective.
    Happy Hair!

  • Joy Henry

    Thank you for sharing sister. You are not alone. Styling my natural hair has left me disappointed so many times that I too have been discouraged so now I take breaks with protective styles. So many people refuse to acknowledge that different curl patterns/hair textures require different amounts of time to achieve the desired look. I’ve accepted that I must braid or twist my hair almost every night. The process takes about 45+ minutes because I have to use liquid, oil, conditioner, &/or some other concoction to minimize breakage. The next morning is another long process because I have to CAREFULLY undo what was done the night before. Then it doesn’t look like I’ve done anything to my hair half of the time. Unfortunately I don’t know success when it comes to the wash & go. Also my twist outs are mostly misses.
    However I will hold on because when my hair is the length and fullness that I desire my hair is easier to style/maintain. When my hair is a protective style longer than 3 weeks I miss my high maintence natural hair & I can’t wait to return to showing my hair an enormous amount of love. I don’t remember loving my hair as much when it was under the influence of the creamy drug we call relaxers. So sister hold on just find the length, style, &… that works for you. I also decided that I will use bottle protein treatments, conditioners, honey, clay, yogurt, or whatever else I desire if it works for me. Do what works for you. WE ARE so much bigger and greater than our hair.

  • bangieb

    Going natural is not for everyone. People think they can handle it themselves but if you can’t, go to the hairdresser. I see people with the headband and the puff. If that was the only way I could wear my natural hair, I would go back to the relaxer or a press n curl

  • Merilyn Saltus

    Hi LADIES, SO, I’m 75, short, plump, told by Men & Women I’m cute. Mommy let me start at 17 with dying & cutting my hair. I’ve had every color out. She let me cut her wavy hair into a MEAN FRO. My four sisters & I R different skin tones, sizes, shapes, styles & tastes. My Best friend, Brenda (GB) who grew up with me became a Hairstylist in the bx. Her clients were Professionals, Doctors, Nurses, Teachers etc. Perms, press & curl, natural and yes, Styled jerry curls without the juicy look. Right now I’m growing & prepping for a new summer style. It cost monies, but when you or a professional get the PATIENCE, YOUR THE QUEEN. Hang in there ladies. Go to PINTENCE/curls, naturals, weaves, braids, Dreadlocks, perms, press & curl, blow dry. All color hair (wht, silver, salt & pepper, gray, honey blond, reds etc. All textures. It’s for you to find & love yourself. BLESSINGS

  • special911

    It’s going to be hard because you was brainwashed at an early age not accepting your natural beauty thinking straight fried hair was pretty to be accepted. I honor and thank my mother who used to braid my hair at a young age and everytime she would loosen my cornrows, I wouldn’t wait to see how big my Afro was…I would look in my mirror and call myself a beautiful princess in Africa, until I came to America and I was having hard time of copying with stereotypes of ignorant blacks in High school and some Whites who looked at my Afro as nappy. My mother always reassured me that as long as I like my hair, don’t pay any mind to haters or confused people. Afro hair is also used as a herb to get ready of bloating after you eat beans…My grandmother would take a piece of her hair to burn it and the small ashes would get rubbed on the stomach to prevent Gas…Yep, no kidding.

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      Hi @special911! Just have to be clear here – no one brainwashed me. My mom and my dad both worked, and mom did what was most manageable for her. When I took over care of my own hair, I did what I knew, and then decided to try something else. This isn’t hard because of the appearance of my hair. I stated quite clearly that I like my curls, my “natural beauty” as you put it. All I’m struggling with is finding maintenance that works for me. I grew up with girls who had natural hair and did not once think it was ugly, and I quite like mine, so I don’t appreciate your inference that I can’t see beauty in natural hair.

  • Tricia

    I am 42 years old and I have to say that I have no idea what my natural hair looks like or would even be classified as. I have been getting relaxers for as long as I can remember. Due to some scalp issues over the last several years, my hairstylist is recommending that I let the relaxer go. But I am very hesitant because I am scared to death to see what my natural hair looks like and the maintenance associated with it. My hair is so easy to take care of in it’s relaxed state. I don’t know a lot about hair and I’m lazy when it comes to my hair, so putting a little curl in it and going is so simple. I really don’t want to give that up. Part of me feels really guilty that I love the relaxer so much because there are those who insist I like it because I like having “white” hair. The reality is, I like it because I like having easy hair. However, there is a possibility that chemicals are causing scalp issues after years of use and healthy hair and skin are more important than my laziness. However, 2 weeks ago I stumbled on to an all natural hair oil (made only of essential oils) that seems to be reversing my scalp issues. This has added to my confusion of whether to discontinue my relaxer use. But on a deeper level, despite being a black woman that was born in America. I have been told buy my own people that I am not black enough all of my life simply because I don’t fit the typical stereotypes. So I think part of me is clinging to relaxed hair because it’s my silent way of saying “f – you” to people who are judging me for not being black enough and think I should change. Thank you for writing this article, it has triggered some much-needed introspection.

  • Glentrese “Glenpeach” Warren

    I feel her frustration with maintenance of natural hair, trust me, I have natural hair. It’s been four year’s an the frustration is real. But I can say I’m so in love ,with my hair , from how it feels when I put in my fruits n berries, this is wht I tell people when they ask, wht I use in my hair Fruits n Berries I love the full feeling of my hair, being natural is a dedication and rewards, I love not spending money on hair or curling irons • just a few products and that’s it a comb or too but not much * when I wasn’t natural I struggled with growth, healthiness : I was always told to go to professionals, it was hard, finding someone whom did styles I lik and they where expensive to keep up with $i always knew how to do hair, so tht help me thru the years and still- no growth I always had, a problem with some Weave products my skin is sensitive. Being natural its frustrating at times but its healthier and it promotes hair growth and Slay. Like someone said u can get your hair straighten “like u got two perms” if u like the straighten look, and the new hair styles, u can do it yourself or get a great stylist like me 😚😚😚to my natural hair I love love it u can do any style with natural hair and it looks good. Don’t over think it its Natural 😣😣🤓🎎love u guys..

  • Blame Girl

    Thank you for writing this! I feel the same way about my own hair most of the time. But I blow dry and style my hair like that through the week. But the care can be so tedious, especially for perfect curls. I still don’t know the right formula of products for perfect curls. I live in Florida so even blow drying is futile. I’ve been relaxer free for 12 years, and chemical free for about 6. Now I’m considering a Brazilian blow out. But I will never go back to the relaxer . I don’t judge other women who choose the relaxer. We are all still trying to break the #wmp beauty standards and we like convenience.

  • Executive Firm

    Thanks for sharing. Personally, my natural hair journey has been absolutely amazing. But honestly, natural hair isn’t for everyone and not all experiences are positive. At the end of the day, if your hair causes more pain than joy, then redirect your journey. Do what makes you happy. The best is yet to come my sister!

  • Lala

    Your article took the words right out of my mouth! I’ve wore my hair natural for 4 years and loved my curls right off the bat. However, the MAINTENANCE I did not love. In stead of spending time with my family at the end of the night I would be in the bathroom twisting and braiding my hair. I grew tired of my hair being a 30 minute task every night. Regardless of the time spent working on my hair many styles were failed attemps resulting in unflattering make shift hairstyles to get through the day. After wrestling with the idea of feeling like I would be bending to societies views of beauty, I decided to flat iron my hair. I cant say im in it for the long haul but for the time being I am enjoying the simplicity of a flat ironed style while drumming up the nerve to try another twist out realizing my hair journey is just that. MINE.

  • Paulette

    Why not straighten without a perm. The real issue with perms its all the chemicals and toxins that go into ones skin and finds its way to the brain. Causing all types of problems. Also I get so annoyed with the natural hair community (I’ve been “loose” natural for over 10 years I now have locs) because everyone wants texture.. Waves and curls. That to me is sick because even when our hair is natural, we want it to mimic someone else’s. What’s wrong with having really course hair?! Idk don’t mean to rant but I refuse to watch YouTube videos on Hair because most women want that biracial texture of hair. We have to learn to love ourselves as is. If you do like it then get braids, twists.. straighten it. Its that simple.. You owe nobody an explanation. That’s the beauty of our hair We can wear sooo many different ways. Enjoy your hair. You should never not be happy with it. When you do get bored . Simply switch it up! Peace

  • tinatomato

    Growing up, I had no idea anything was “wrong” with my hair until an adult in the family took it upon herself to give me a relaxer. It took years for me to appreciate my real texture, because new growth just looked like a hassle compared to my relaxed ends. But, relaxing and dyeing took its toll. I always had long hair. But the breakage was sacrificing all my length. So, in 2015 I got a pixie cut. I let go of the relaxers. I was destroying my hair for so many years, I failed to notice that I actually have some dope curls. Now, I co-wash, deep condition and then I use some John Freida frizz ease and I blow dry my hair. It’s ten times healthier. No breakage, and most of all, it’s versatile. I can go from curly to straight whenever I want. I could be bitter at the fact that I was made to feel (at a young age) that my hair NEEDED relaxers, but instead I just choose to respect my texture. Now, I tell little girls, of all ethnicities, how beautiful their hair is. They need to know.

  • princessglee

    When I look at your picture I see envy-inducing almond shaped eyes and a set of full lips I and zillion others want and may be willing to pay for to get. You’re a pretty girl. Just find a hairstyle that makes the most of what you have. Any ‘do you choose will require some effort. Keep it simple, do you and don’t let your hair define everything you are.

  • BMM

    This was such a beautifully written, and relatable piece. I’ve been natural most of life with a brief stint with a relaxer (I ended up cutting all of my hair off because I thought my hair was too straight). Over the years, I’ve experimented with different looks eventually ‘settling’ with a style that felt very me. As an immigrant myself con the Caribbean, I too struggled with feeling a sense of belonging and the measuring of my blackness. It wasn’t until recently realized that none of that really matters and how I see myself is way more important than anything else. I think sometimes the black community has a way of inadvertently falling into life the trap of labelling and defining identity in a way that mirrors exactly what is being fought against, like “be free and unapologetic but not like that.” the decision on how to style your hair shouldn’t cause feelings of guilt for not wanting to wear your natural hair or shame for wanting to get a relaxer or vice versa. At the end of the day, it’s just hair, and it’s YOUR hair to do with it as you please and whatever makes you feel like the most like you and comfortable should be the way to go.

  • Safiatou Anta

    I went natural 12 years ago for political reasons. I don’t care how my hair looks, I don’t care what product will make it long/soft/shiny. I don’t care if someone’s hair got to knee length in a month. I don’t care about current trends, wash n go, cowash, whatever. I don’t do length checks. All those are bla bla blas for me. I’m wearing the hair I was born with. Nothing tops that. That’s all I know. NOT EVERYONE LIKES THE SAME THING. Why is this even an article?

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      Hi! I wrote it because it was something I was wrestling with, and I thought other people might be wrestling with it too. This was never about how my hair looked (I stated quite clearly that I like my daily half twist, and I’m not very fancy when it comes to styling), it was about what went into managing its health, and the fact that it feels like a fight to just keep it healthy, and it was about identifying where that frustration was coming from, and realising my hair was not really the problem.. Make sense? 🙂

      • Sarah

        I also think that a lot of natural hair narratives prize one approach (“I went natural, had an epiphany, and am never going back!”) and this article is unlike so much of what has already been written. Your perspective is an important contribution!

  • Cheryl Covington
  • Cheryl Covington

    I enjoyed your article. I also fight with my natural hair. My mother use to wash, press and curl. Then as a teenager my sister and I received our first perm which burn part of my hair off. So as adult I always had a perm not because I was having an identity criss but because it made my hair manable. Now in the last ten year I have fought with myself to go natural. I did the big chop and sported afro, twist now locs. I real fighting the look but I really want them to grow out. But I know I have to go through these stages. I am just dealing with excepting the look on me.

  • Love this!

  • Sibahle Magadla

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts and feelings, Dupsie. It’s so refreshing! Yeah… the hair thing is quite a journey I think, similar to one’s weight-loss journey for those with insecurities or goals, for example. Personally, I’ve learned to take it one day at a time. More importantly, I’ve decided to pursue a journey of loving myself regardless of my insecurities. So when I do think about relaxing my hair, I first ask: is this coming from a place of loving myself? Or is it coming from a place of feeling like people will judge me or not like me for having ‘unruly’ hair? So whatever you do to your hair, body, etc., just remember to be kind to yourself. #selflove

  • Ify Emeh

    I REALLY FEEL YOU! I had the same problem, even because am vey lazy considering make up and hair, and even if I started wearing wig for making my hair grows, I still have to get in the mood of afro-natural hair care.

  • Paige Kay

    IDK about anyone else, but I personally LOVE having my hair natural! I have very thick hair, and I feel a sense of pride, beauty, and kinship with my Black sistas all around the world. I’ve learned just how to manage and care for my hair. It saddens me to hear Black women complaining about our hair, because really, Black women are the only women on Earth stripped of the knowledge of how to tend to something as basic as the hair that grows out of our heads. In actuality, it is very simple and not time consuming. Moisturize with the right products, heat the products before applying if you must, seal in moisture, keep hair stretched, and leave it alone. Voila. Hair that’s thick and healthy. Learn the right oils for you – not everyone can use coconut or jojoba – and take biotin. Done. It’s really doesn’t have to be very difficult.

  • Mellisa Scarlett

    WOW!!! —I’m still trying to “figure” my hair out. Saying that out loud haunts me because Im 27. I question my authenticity because of the simple fact that my hair is just not something I want to deal with. I enjoy the freedom and proudness that comes with finally rocking my natural kinky tresses but undeniably feel the burden of having to take care/deal with it. I think this resonates with a lot of my kinky sisters. I will say though, we shouldn’t place ourselves in a box. Our hair is just that HAIR. Although I believe you should know how to take care of and love what you were born with, no judgment should be cast if you decide you want to manage in your own way. Its yours.

  • Haywood Jablowme

    I bet her bush is like a wire pie.

  • Sienna Knows it All

    Aw I love this article, Modupe, and can totally relate! Its unfortunate, because identity is something that blacks as a whole have struggled and are struggling to shape (that black isnt a monolith, that we are just as beautiful attractive as other races, what makes someone “black” etc.). Then on an individual scale, completely separate from the black race’s identity struggles, is our own struggles because the world tries to force us into a box due to our skin color, when in reality, we dont HAVE to identify as black or display “blackness” because we’re just human. Whatever we end up becoming is because of our experience and our being human. Anyway I can relate to almost every sentence here. Im still natural but i consider a relaxer like every other day lol

  • Milo

    Loved this read. We have one life. Wear your hair the way you want. As black women, we spend so much time being policed on what’s the “right” way to do our hair. Be it natural, wigs, weave, relaxed, etc! I’m so sick of hearing it! And I hate it even more from my fellow black women. Let black woman decide what they want to do with their hair! Relax hair doesn’t make you any less black just like natural hair doesn’t make you any more black. I say we celebrate the fact that our hair is so awesome and we’re innovators to some of the best hair practices around!

  • Amy Putman

    Go Modups!!!! So proud of you xxxx

  • Sylqué

    I’m happy to hear /read this perspective more and more. And whenever I hear someone say this kind of thing I think back to when I began doing my own hair. At age 8 I got my first relaxer and boy were my expectations big. But I failed often and hard at achieving my desired look for many years. Granted this was easier as a preteen and generally accepted. I’m 8 years in without a relaxer and I’m as lazy as ever at maintenance but I’ve gotten better at doing my hair. I’d say for those who are disheartened to consider and remember that we all weren’t immediately good at doing our hair. So it’s okay to either return to relaxing or to allow yourself to mature at it. It’s your hair. You can choose and that’s the beauty of our natural hair, it can be beautiful either way.