Hair Diary: Allison C.

4:57 PM

About Me...Well, I am a laid back person who loves to express herself creatively. I think of myself as the typical Aquarian spirit: chill to the point of sometimes being aloof; talented in many ways that force me to be a Jack-of-Multiple-Trades and a Master-of-Few; and shy and outgoing at the same time. I make acquaintances easily, but call very few people true friends. I can be the life-of-the-party or a total wallflower, depending on what day you catch me. All of this is demonstrated in my natural hair styles, because some days it's creative and stylish and other days, it's honestly a hot mess.

Where do you live? How is the natural hair community there?
I am currently living in Tuskegee, Alabama, a historically and culturally famous city for many reasons. The natural hair community is broken up the way the city is: the college side (Tuskegee University) versus the town side. On campus (where I interact a lot), people (particularly students) are very accepting and loving towards natural hair -- various individuals are always complementing me on my natural hair's texture regardless of style and there have even been forums and meet-and-greets for the student body's natural hair community. On the town side though, there are a lot of individuals (particularly older people) who are very old-fashioned and who have what I think of as the Jim Crow Mentality: there are a lot of issues and prejudices still in peoples' heads regarding natural hair and what it means -- I've been told to my face that my hair is unattractive and have even had people "lovingly" suggest that I straighten my hair if I want to catch a husband one day. It doesn't upset me though because I feel that it comes back to how people were treated when they were growing up: darker skinned women were deemed unattractive in their time, along with anyone who looked too "black." Natural hair was something people did in the past for political or radical reasons. I think that psychology is still ingrained in a lot of people's heads.

When and why did you decide to natural?
This is my third time going natural, so I guess I will explain why I went natural each time. First Time: When I was in high school, I became active in an after-school group that targeted young black youth and was focused on encouraging black activism, positivity, and pride. I was surrounded by women who had afros and locks and became influenced by not only their way of thinking, but their style as well. Naturally, I decided to cut off my permed hair because I wanted to be more authentic and real, the way they seemed to be. Second Time: When I first went natural, all I knew about styling was to wear an afro and pick my hair when it was wet. So in college, I ended up getting a perm again because I was tired of the same old afro-style. But after a few months of trying to put in retouches myself or paying others to do so, I was over the newness and ended up doing a big chop -- I section my hair into four ponytails, cut them off and went to a barber to have him trim it more professionally. Third Time: After several years of yet again wearing nothing but afros, I got curious about how my hair would look straightened, so I had my sisters perm it. They ended up having to use to boxes of perm because my hair had gotten so long. By the time it was finished, it hung to beneath my shoulder blades. I honestly loved the way it looked for quite some time and was consistent with getting it retouched, either professionally or by relatives. But then it started breaking off, even though I was wrapping it, conditioning it, etc. So I started feeling the itch and frustration to go natural. This time, the decision to Big Chop was much more traumatic because it was not accepted the way it had been in the past, by family and some friends.

Were your friends and family supportive of your decision? If not, how were you able to move forward?
The first two times I went natural, the reaction was one of either ambivalence or nonacceptance, depending on who I encountered. The first time, my mother was accepting but non-excited, but the rest of my family was either displeased or disgusted. I had one sister who was so disgusted, she started telling people at school I was her cousin and not her sister. I didn't take it seriously though, perhaps because I was in a more militant state of mind and viewed the lack of acceptance as ignorance of some kind. The second time, there wasn't really a lot of space for reaction, because I was in college and no one was around to see me when I cut my hair, they just kinda figured it out once I went home...by then it was too late to object. The third time I went natural, the decision to beforehand was controversial and inflammatory to many people around me. I think the issue this time was that my hair had gotten so long and straight that me deciding to cut it all off was just deemed almost sacrilegious. In the black community I was in by that point, no one could understand why a black girl who's own hair had grown so long would willingly let it go. I remember the worst experience was members of my family staging an "intervention" to convince me not to cut my hair off and go natural. To get results, one family member in particular went below the belt, saying things like "When you were natural all those other times, you just weren't pretty" or asking questions like "Don't you want to get married one day? Well, you won't if you don't look attractive." She even said that my white friends only like my hair natural because it kept me looking more black and unattractive, the way white people like. I went natural anyway and they accepted it with time. In fact, all of the women in my immediate family are now naturals, so all's well that ends well.

What is your current hair routine?
Right now, my routine is very laid back. Some weeks I co-wash every day in the shower, squeeze it dry with a t-shirt, coat it with Olive Oil or Hot Six Oil, then pull it back into a puff without picking it or combing it (I love my curls better that way, instead of the frizzed out look I get from picking it). Other weeks, I do a wash/detangle/deep condition session over the weekend, then try various styles for the rest of the week, such as a twist out, braid out, or puff. Each time I change my style during the week, I co-wash it and oil it. Right now, I am co-washing with a conditioner I got from the Dollar Tree (for a dollar of course) called Silkience. I like it mainly because it provides good slip, is cheap, and defines my curls. I almost dislike it sometimes though because it makes my hair very silky...for some strange reason, I sometimes prefer my hair to look more 4b and the Silkience sometimes creates a 3b affect for me.

Do you have any hair goals? What steps are you taking to achieve them?
My main hair goal is to achieve health in my hair and scalp, facilitate growth to the full potential, and become proficient at trying new and attractive styles. To make this a dream come true, I am doing the following things: keeping my hair strong by conditioning it as much as possible, using only plant (and non-mineral) oils to moisturize it, combing it as little as possible (using my fingers instead to detangle and separate it), and taking advantage of Internet resources for hair style ideas.

What is your fav go-to style for your natural hair?
My ultimate, most typical go-to style is the puff. All I do is co-wash it, oil it, then pull it backwards by stying an elastic scarf around the hairline and continuously pulling the ends as the scarf slides backwards, which smooths the hair into a ponytail. Once the hair is as far as I want it to go, I just keep wrapping the scarf around the ponytail until it is tucked away and hidden and looks like an elastic band instead of a scarf.

Curly girls have more fun because...they take full advantage of the heath and vitality that their hair's natural state and texture allows, giving them the chance to be true to themselves, diverse with their style options, and all-natural divas.

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