My journey back to discovering, learning, and loving my natural hair began just eight years ago. I remember the day I decided that I would cut my straight dead ends. Sheers resting between my thumb and index finger, I looked at the reflection staring back at me, took a deep inhale through my nose and as I exhaled released the first cut. There was no going back now and although this would be my 2nd time during my adult years to “go natural” this time was much different. It wasn’t some revolutionary cause of wanting to be apart of some trend, or fashion statement; simply an awareness. This chop was for the sake of fully discovering me and understanding the risk that was involved every time I chose to chemically alter my hair.
During cosmetology training, I received much more than hands on guidance to achieving trendy cuts, facials, and nail care. The molecular structure of hair was studied including the processes of what occurs when chemical relaxers and perms are used to change one’s natural texture. I read the passage over and over to allow the words to sink in, fully knowing that this was not new information. This however, was the first time it was presented in this way. An intention and a prayer answered to see areas that needed healing in all areas of my life. I witnessed as the words touched exactly where they needed to touch. The Milady’s Cosmetology book read “Relaxers are characterized by extremely high alkalinity and can literally melt or dissolve hair if used incorrectly. Most relaxers have the same ingredients used in depilatories (products used to for temporary hair removal.)”. My mouth dropped and I reflected on all those years of smoothing this mystery cream and leaving it on just a little longer parting and sliding my fingers down to assure all the new growth had been properly “relaxed”. No kink in sight was the goal and often looking at how straight it was that it could literally slide right off. Witnessing the thinning crowns of beautiful women I knew who suffered hair loss due to the use of relaxers with prescriptions; not yet willing or ready to give up either one. I read it once more that evening to my husband. For years, he too had assisted me with relaxing my hair at home. His reaction similar to mine, but he followed with a deep probing question “What will you do now that you know?”. All the years of altering, relaxing, chemicals in my hair and the use of petroleum base that so called “protected” me. Protected me from what? It could offer no such thing and now the only protection that I knew to give was love. To get to know all of me. My fingers had not touched, nor my eyes had seen my naturally textured hair since childhood. Remembering the mock of being told by a few cousins that my hair was bad. Bad or not, it was mine and I was about to work it out! Relax and release the programmed frame of mind and trust. I was no stranger to the care of natural hair. Braiding, twisting, cleansing, and finger detangling the curly coils of many throughout the years gave me the spark of confidence that surely I could care for mine as well.
Moving the sheers throughout my entire head, my smile became wider and brighter with every snip. The biggest hair cut I had ever done on myself and now a new one in the books for proudest hair moments. I stroked all ten fingers through my hair again and again. Done for now; yet in my heart I knew this journey had just begun. Eight years later and I am still grateful for stepping out of my comfort zone to rediscover the true gift that I was blessed with when I was created. Naturally textured and loving all of me! While I’d love to say that it’s been a wonderfully, amazingly beautiful path; that would only be half truth.For now I’ll just say thank goodness for achieving head wrap success for days I could not manage another twists out session. Extension styles that kept me from momentary head shaves and support that always talked me off another big chop or mohawk ledge. This journey with my natural hair has taught me many exciting new things, but mostly like with life to just be patient and enjoy the ride!
Love Talita Akana is a wife, mother, sister, and a friend. Over the years, she has shared guidance from the lessons she has learned. Grateful to be a vessel to assist others as a source of inspiration to touch another with what they learned to grow on their journey. This is Love.