Natural Hair Solutions

When I was younger, hair was an integral part of my getting ready process. My mom would sit me down and put my hair into medium sized sections, which grew smaller and more intricate as I got older for braided styles that would last for a school week. The joke when I was a child was that I'd complain about my mom combing my hair like a coconut tree, and that I'd never come home without bubbles and clips missing--as much as I loved my mother I was scared shitless of her. My mom's childhood experiences with her hair are a complete 180. Her mom didn't know how to do hair, which explains why she worked diligently to ensure that I didn't have a strand out of place. As early as I can remember my mom instilled the importance of keeping myself put together, no matter my size.

I got older and desired straight hair; I thought that black girls after 14 woke up with magically straight hair so imagine my surprise when I continued to wake up with my tightly coiled tresses. My grand aunt used to pass a hot comb through my hair every other Sunday after washing it but that wasn't enough for me; I saw getting my hair relaxed as a black girl rite of passage and when I turned 16 I wanted nothing more. My mom and I bonded through different activities but doing our hair together was an experience. Being in a space with black women being groomed is something that I now consider a safe space and self care: a group of women coming together and building community with trims, touch ups, sew ins, or a big chop. Though these experiences helped in how I identify myself I never saw an opportunity to learn about my hair, I'd pay the dresser and be on my way. I honestly never cared about my hair beyond a surface level until I went natural. 

A lot of girls will tell you that they chose to rock their natural hair because they ‘found themselves’ or wanted to stop adhering to Eurocentric beauty standards. I went natural cause I hated the salon over time. As an artist you're allowed a freedom to dress and wear your hair however you wish, depending on the weather I'm wearing a twist out or a hat over my twists. I'm a photographer with an affinity for fashion and beauty photography, which makes me want to photograph people, especially women, in a way that makes them more human: beyond consumption, desire, beyond lust. For a lot of us black women our hair is our identifier and can make or break our look. As I perused Tumblr and Instagram for hair inspiration I found myself wanting loose curls, donned by the racially ambiguous women through my computer screen. Colorism is just as important when talking about natural hair as it is with everything else in our community.

 In transitioning and finally being natural I learned the importance of caring for self on the inside out. As you grow in your hair you find the products, styles, and routines that work for YOU. Sometimes you'll take the YouTube gurus word like gospel on certain things, despite them stressing that they had their own experiences that led them to their practices. Before, I wanted long natural hair to silence my insecurities. I still want length but my current goal is to get shoulder length natural hair. You eventually grow into yourself as being natural puts you in a new spotlight: you're given front row seating to the stark contrast in how men approach us.  Being natural has also taught me that most men are silly; I’m called a queen or an empress when my hair is in a twist out and have had overtly sexual things said to me on the rare occurrence my hair is straight.  I’m not expecting men to have extensive knowledge about hair, but I am expecting you to not assume that I’m a different person depending on how I wear my hair.  Straight or natural I’ll still tell you where you can go with yourself but that’s neither here nor there, ha.

My experience with being natural is like coming full circle with how I see myself.  I used to hate my facial features and wanted nothing more than a looser curl pattern and fairer skin, now I’m in a space where the more I learn about myself the stronger I love me.  At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, transitioning to being natural is one of the best things I’ve done.  Never listen to anyone if they say natural hair isn’t for everyone; it’s literally the hair that grows out of your own head.  Do the proper research for your hair type, and find a stylist who can make you look and feel good. Extra points if she’s a black woman. 

 

Shante Carlan Photography

http://shazthephotog.4ormat.com/

instagram -- shazthephotog

Hairstylist: Ebony W (@shediidthat on Instagram)

MUA: Amber T (@ambertaylorartistry on Instagram)

Hairstylist: Ebony W (@shediidthat on Instagram)

MUA: Amber T (@ambertaylorartistry on Instagram)