I've been natural most of life. I was 11 when my mother decided it was time to chemically alter my hair. It was seen almost a rite of passage from primary (elementary) to secondary (middle) school, that a girl should relax, texturize or in some way alter her natural hair. My mother, along with my cousin who was my hairdresser, opted for a dry curl, which was a cross between a texturiser and a Jheri Curl. The purpose was to make my hair more manageable, since I'd supposedly have less time for combing since the curriculum for secondary school was more intense and time consuming.
The dry curl lasted about a year, before I gradually cut out the processed hair until my natural texture remained. For the rest of my secondary (high) school life I was natural. Two strand twists were my go to style, as it was easiest for me to do. In my later years of secondary school I'd experiment with cornrow and braided extensions, adding in as much colour as my school would allow.
During all this, I didn't have that much of an attachment or connection to my hair as I do now. I simply knew that keeping my hair natural was best for me after experiencing the dry curl hairstyle. When I started my degree at the University of the West Indies, I began going crazy with colour and would often be seen around campus with red pepperseeds (bantu knots) in my hair. There were no rules regarding colour there so I during my three years I'd float between blonde, copper and red hair.
I entered the world of work with natural hair and unlike many naturals today, I've never had any major issues regarding how I wore my hair in the workplace. After a while, I became bored and somewhat frustrated with my hair, so in an attempt to try something different, I texturised, and eventually relaxed my hair. I loved it! And with relaxed hair came the experiment with weaves. This excitement lasted only so long, and with every appointment to get my hair touched up, I started to resent having relaxed hair more and more. I'd feel my new growth and miss my kinky curly hair. Soon enough, I stated delaying trips to the hairdresser, and eventually, stopped going to the hairdresser to relax my hair completely. August 19, 2011 was my last relaxer. I'd only had a relaxed hair for about 16 months.
I transitioned for 5 months, braiding my hair myself in afro kinky twists, or doing bantu knots to help deal with both textures. Eventually even that became frustrating, so on February 19th, 2012. I big chopped around 3 in the morning…..
It was the most liberating experience of my life!
I've been natural a little over 4 years now and I do not regret it one bit. Since then, I've experimented with many different styles, techniques, hair colours, haircuts, extensions, you name it. I love my hair! It took having relaxed hair for me to realise how much my natural hair truly meant to me and how much I really am attached to my natural texture.
Seeing how much the natural hair community has grown gives me an extra sense of pride. I have embraced my hair in both the good hair days and the bad. My hair is my crown, a facet of my beauty, an extension of my personality, my link to my ancestry and my means of self expression and creativity. For that, I wear it proudly.
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About The Author: Nelly B. is a Brand Ambassador for PuffCuff located in Trinidad. She is also a natural hair blogger/vlogger for A Day In The Life of Nelly B. Nelly is the Co-Founder and PR Officer for the Nappy Roots (6 Degrees of Napp) Natural Hair Company and Co-Administrator for the Caribbean Ppl with Natural Hair group.