Are you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
I hope to be a really long term transitioner. I can’t imagine myself with a TWA (teeny weeny afro), so I hope that when it comes time to chop off the last bits of the permed hair, I will still have considerable length. Every two weeks I have been getting a haricut, keeping my hair just around chin length.
When do you think you will BC?
Hopefully, I can make it to at least a year. It really depends on how long my hair is. If it grows leaps and bounds over the next few months, maybe I will BC sooner. Or maybe it will be at the two year mark. It really just depends on how comfortable I am with length, but so far I have noticed I have a ton of shrinkage.
How do family and friends react to the transitioning you? What was your response to them?
So far everyone has been super supportive. But I think that’s largely in part because there hasn’t been any real outward changes due to the hairstyles I’ve chosen so far. My husband hasn’t expressed a preference for natural or permed hair. He does, however love it clean, groomed and styled. I think he believes that in my mind natural = buckwheat afro. I think to some degree I do look forward to wearing my hear in a big unruly afro one day. But that doesn’t mean it has to be my staple style. There are so many different styles to try out. My friends have pretty much all told me to go for it, except for a few that are loyal to the creamy crack, and think that straight looks best on me.
What is your transition routine?
My transition routine has consisted of going to the Dominicans every one to two weeks for a shampoo, deep conditioner and style. Now, before you criticize me, which EVERYONE does, I have found one stylist that I go to every time and she is very gentle. I bring my own products, which include ApHogee shampoo and conditioner, Carol’s Daughter Tui Hair Oil and Argon Hair oil which is a Moroccan oil. I go there because of the skill set, flexibility and value. Since some months I go weekly, I can afford the $20-25 hairstyle at that frequency. The woman that does my hair gets is straight when I want it straight, and does not pressure me to perm it. I usually go on Sundays, which works perfectly for my working mother schedule. Sometimes, on Saturdays I will co-wash at home just to play with my hair and begin to get a sense for my natural texture.
What is your staple hair style during the transition?
My staple style has definitely been the a roller set and blow out because I have been too chicken to start experimenting. From August through November I was getting the same style as when I had a perm and wrapping it with a scarf at night. Then, out of guilt of constantly straightening my hair, I started getting tighter roller sets and not blowing it out. I looked crazy! I had a billion large curls on top of my head, and didn’t really know how to style it. I have been lurking on my favorite natural hair care site, CurlyNikki, and watching youtube videos of different natural styles and styling techniques for inspiration. This past week I wore a new style that garnered tons of positive feedback. It was a transitioner’s take of the curly fro. I got a tight roller (the smallest rollers, blue, orange and yellow), and then pushed it all the back on my head into a short of pony tail. It was super cute Monday through Wednesday, and Thursday it looked a mess, but I was still receiving compliments. I will try this style out again this week because it does not require direct heat and takes less time in the salon.
How do you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage?
I don’t do anything special. I make sure to sit under the steamer with my conditioner every week, though.
Why did you choose to go natural?
Oh my! For so many reasons! My entire life I knew that one day I would eventually go natural. I love the idea of one day, wearing a wash n go. Can you imagine? I look forward to swimming and working out and being confident in my natural hair texture. I look forward to twist outs, and curly fros and twist n curls and whatever else I find that looks cute. Although, there are two real motivating factors explaining why I am currently transitioning.
After the Lion was born, I quickly stopped exclusively breastfeeding. He was born in June, and after labor day I returned to my second and final year as a fulltime business school student at NYU Stern. I was recruiting for a fulltime position as a brand manager as well, so I found myself carrying a pump to school everyday. As my milk production decreased, and I leaned more heavily on formula, I noticed the shedding begin. This did not occur with Gadget, I think because I breastfeed him for much longer. Well, the second time around, I was completely done breastfeeding at the seven month mark because we took a three week course in Australia, and I refused to pump during “my time” (I won’t make this mistake again, but today I can’t fully say that I regret that decision.) Well, the shedding accelerated. Soon, my long thick mane was sparse. There was nothing I could do to slow it down.
In May of 2009 I got a perm for graduation and then went the entire summer without a perm. When August approached and my work start date neared, I got anxious and permed the fourteen weeks of new growth I had nourished. I immediately regretted that decision. I was afraid of the tension between the two textures, and I hadn’t yet found my gentle stylist. After two or so months perm free the shedding finally slowed. I am not sure if my body took an extra long time to flush out the pregnancy hormones, or if it was an internal issue, but not getting any more perms has helped.
The second major motivating factor is that I want our children to be proud of and confident in their natural hair. I hope to one day have a daughter, and would hate to have her one day ask me why I perm my hair and not hers. I would be sending this huge message that you only look presentable with chemical alterations, and I do not want to communicate that through my behavior. So far, the transition has not been that difficult physically, although it is an emotional journey. I think that women who BC sooner have matured emotionally and mentally and are more prepared to live a life with a different look – more prepared than I am. If you think about it, it’s drastically changing your appearance, like an amputation. Clearly, my view on it is still with apprehension since I just compared going natural to losing a limb, but I think the mental consquences are just as significant. I have lived all of my adult life with a perm, and to abandon what has become a social norm, especially with my 4Cish texture, will take a big leap. Physically – next week I’ll be in Trinidad and I have no idea what to do. I have never worn fake hair: weaves, wigs, extensions, so if I get braids it will just be my hair, but I wear braids in Trinidad EVERY time. If you have advice for transition styles that can take some splashes, please let me know!