Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Natural Sister's Hairstory: The Journey to Amina

As a faculty member at a University, I often encounter delightful young people at the beginning stages of making big decisions about their lives.  What I enjoy most is the opportunity to dialogue with them and to share my own stages of growth, professionally and in terms of my hair. I give a lecture entitled "Getting Down to the Roots" which is about the history of the hair of Black people and the various aspects of evolvement that individuals have experience in terms of their hair including perms, weaves, jherr curls, braids, locks, etc.  Below is a story from one of my former students who recently graduated from college which is a fantastic accomplishment and now her graduation to natural hair.  For her, N.I.C.E.!  I hope her story will inspire the many sisters who are considering taking the step to natural or who are already in transition.

Rahel Callender’s Natural Hair Journey
When I first decided to go natural it wasn’t a magical epiphany I had one day, or a new desire that came over me in a rush. Instead I simply wanted to stretch out my perms. Since the age of 9 I have had my hair relaxed and I have been so addicted to perms that as soon as I felt a little bit of new growth on my scalp I would run to the nearest salon and get a relaxer. Well at least until the summer of 2009. It was at that time that I realized that my hair was very unhealthy and I needed to make a change. My purpose was to try to grow out my hair without perming it as often. I never intended to stop. So I decided to put micro-braids in my hair as a way to grow it out. When I took out my braids I saw that it damaged my edges and so therefore I decided I would put extension twists which are not as damaging to the hair. I decided to do twists for approximately 11 months as my “transition” period. Of course I didn’t know that was what it was called at the time.

I started to do research on hair products and started finding out more information on natural hair, learning that perm is the WORST thing you could ever put in your hair, I decided I would attempt to go natural. Luckily for me I had a solid support system of friends, colleagues and natural haired sisters within my community who encouraged me during my transition. I got very anxious to see the development of my hair but decided to wait it out until I knew I had the opportunity to do the “Big Chop”.

I graduated from college in May of 2010, which was a huge accomplishment in my life, and I felt that would be the perfect time to cut off the permed hair as a symbol of “part 2” of my life beginning.

On June 29, I sat in my living room with my mom, a pair of scissors in my hands and a mirror, and cut all the perm off of my hair.

I was NOT prepared for the emotional feeling that overcame me. I felt so liberated, I felt free, I felt excited. I felt scared. Staring into the mirror with no makeup on, and the hair on my head the way it was SUPPOSED to come out was a bit shocking. It was then I noticed qualities in my face that I never noticed before. It was then my true beauty was exposed.

I found myself reading blog after blog on how to care for natural hair, what products to use, researched curl patterns, hair regiments and different techniques on how to take care of my hair

The one thing I love the most about my hair, is it catches people off guard. The endless compliments from friends and strangers alike and the feeling that I get knowing that people are complimenting God’s creation the way it is. No alteration, no adjustment but 100% real. And it’s an amazing feeling! I have learned so much about myself since my transition.

I decided to give my afro a name and call her Amina. People laugh at me when I say that. Why you ask? Because Queen Amina was one of the great queens of Nigeria and when her father died, she succeeded him and became the first and the last queen and during her time. Her strength and courageous attitude was well noted.
Wherever she conquered, she used to order people to build a wall around the town or city, so people still maintain what is now known as 'the walls of Amina.'

When I read this story I thought of my hair, because of its strength, the fact that I let it grow the way it should be, never weakening and representing me and my life.

So that’s my story! It’s a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my hair and I. I know it will be a challenge but so far its worth every moment. =)



udee said...

I love the look!!

TheWhit said...

I love how creeative you are with your styles! Beautiful!