I’ve decided to stop putting strong chemicals and heat in my hair to make it straighter than it is designed to be. It’s been about 3.5 months since I’ve used chemicals and about three weeks since I last flat ironed my hair. Instead of doing these things, I’ve adopted a new routine.
I braid my hair each night, and I unbraid it each morning. With the help of water and gel, I achieve a wavy look that has a lot of body. This process and my decision are not new. Many women with naturally-textured hair have been returning to their God-given roots for years now. They’re done with chemicals, and they’re done fighting nature.
I’ve learned a number of things in this first week that I did not expect or consider. First, big, wavy hair is hard to tame, and Virginia’s humidity can be counted among life’s two constants: death and taxes. Therefore, when it comes to natural hair, frizz happens. I can do my best to keep frizz at a minimum, but on days in which I spend time outdoors, I should expect my hair to slowly expand around my head, envelop my face, and learn to be comfortable with that.
Second, I’ve felt like myself in a way I have not before. I feel like I am wearing “Rachel hair” even though the majority of the waves are not my natural hair texture and I will have to wait many more months to truly know what lies beneath the years of chemicals (about 20!) and flat ironing my hair. I feel like my hair is happy hair that matches my large grin. I think my big hair compliments the size of my head, which is not huge but is also not small. I feel like my hair causes the bold and quirky qualities that I often do not let shine to emerge.
I thought of the scripture, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10). And, I wondered what it would be like if we all walked around confidently expressing who God designed us to be without fear of what others think, shame, anxiety, or conforming to society’s expectations. What a beautiful sight that would be.
Embarking on a natural hair journey—becoming who you were designed to be—is a scary process. I attempted this hair process in 2015, but I gave up. I was overwhelmed by the amount of hair I have, and I was scared to encounter what lied beneath. Since then, I have met many ladies who have gone natural, and most of them have encouraged me to try again. One day, I asked the Lord what he thought, and he asked me a question in return, “What do you want?”
Almost immediately, I responded, “I want to go natural, and I want to wear a cool red lipstick with my big hair.” Initially, my response surprised me, but I realized that I was really saying that I want to me be me. I want to see what lies beneath and experience the hair the Lord desired I have. I want to embrace that hair—frizz, waves, curls, volume, and all—because it’s me. And I want to pair red lipstick with my hair because I think other ladies who wear it look very jazzy. When I think about it, this journey really isn’t about my hair: I want to be me, and I do not want to hide who I am. I want to be free.