Natural is a State of Being: Considerations for Newbie Naturals

newbie naturals hair tipsWhen asked to write a blog about tips for new naturals the obvious and expected topics of discussion would involve big chopping and two strand twisting. However, I have decided to focus on the psychological aspects and implications of going natural. A successful transition to the natural life requires a change in mindset and embracing the truth that natural is more than just a style choice. The new natural must be prepared for internal as well as external conflict regarding her decision.

When a person chooses to have bariatric (weight loss surgery) it is often a requirement that the patient pass a battery of psychological tests before being given permission to have the surgery. One reason for this is to ensure that the person is committed to the work it will require to lose weight since bariatric surgery is a tool and not a quick fix solution. The other reason is to evaluate whether or not the surgery candidate will be able to adjust to their new life as a thin person. This sudden change can often lead to body dysmorphic disorder or a preoccupation and obsessive focus on one’s imperfections.

Going natural requires a psychological adjustment. As a culture we already suffer from body dysmorphic disorder as evidenced by our obsession with relaxers, weaves, wigs and the amount of time, money and energy spent to obtain and maintain a look that others deem beautiful or acceptable. Unfortunately, many of us have never seen our real texture prior to going natural. Therefore, our expectations for what our hair will look like are based on hope rather than reality. Transitioning to natural will require the ability to rethink our perceptions of beauty and what is socially acceptable appearance. Just the other day I met up with a coworker I hadn’t seen for a while. She had been toying with going natural for quite sometime and finally made the decision to big chop. When I congratulated her and told her how lovely her hair looked she sighed deeply and said, “I thought my hair was going to be curly, I wanted curly hair.”

Many new naturals become curl chasers obsessed with finding products or techniques that will create defined curls. Some spend exorbitant amounts of money and excessive amounts of time and energy chasing the curl.

Truth #1: Everyone will not have curly hair. Even if you do end up with curl definition, it could be a year or more before your true texture emerges and getting there will require a commitment to proper care and maintenance. If you do not know what your natural texture is and you will not be happy with anything less than curly hair, you should not go natural.

Interestingly enough the same week I spoke with another coworker who also has been considering wearing her hair in its unaltered state. I was surprised to learn that she is actually a natural but chooses to keep her hair straightened. She has a daughter whose hair she maintains in its natural texture so she is definitely not against natural hair. However, she did mention that natural is not for everyone and that not everyone has the face for natural hair.

Truth #2: Society will lead you to believe that wearing your hair in its natural state is nothing but a style choice. Natural is not a style, it is the way we were created. Have you ever stopped to consider why we have to go natural when we came here natural in the first place? Everyone may not have the face for certain natural styles, not everyone has the face for certain relaxed styles or wigs, but everyone has the face for the hair that was made especially for them by the creator.

These are just a few of the conflicts which you may encounter as you embark on your journey. In the upcoming weeks we will continue to explore the psychological and emotional impact of going natural which I hope will help to guide your decisions and ease your transition.

3 thoughts on “Natural is a State of Being: Considerations for Newbie Naturals

  1. Thank you so much for writing about this topic. I started relaxing regularly at age 14. My last relaxer touch up was October 2012, just after turning 39. That’s a LOT of chemicals….kind of interesting that its called relaxing. It was, for me, a way of relaxing, my mind for fear that any other ‘state’ of hair wouldn’t be acceptable to those around me. I HATED my ‘afro’ as a kid and was teased mercilessly. Since my last relaxer I have worn my hair mainly in a wash n go up until 11/2013, when I decided to install sisterlocks. I haven’t been this happy with my hair in a VERY long time. I found in that year that I’m just not someone that is going to spend much (read any) time twisting or styling…I want something that I can just get up and go with, every day….this has been an amazing journey, that I look forward to continuing….many of my friends are white. They just don’t get how traumatic all of this can and has been for me. Thank you for giving me a place to talk about it….and hear about it from others!!!

    Thank you for ALL that you do….this forum is yet another step in my self acceptance journey.

  2. Thank you for that article. I agree that choosing to go natural takes a psychological adjustment. This is my 2nd and last time going back to my natural state and I love it. The first time I was afraid of what people would think (coworkers, family, friends, etc…) but to my surprise I received so many compliments. My hair was short and I changed my hair color to a coppery red. I then went back to relaxing my hair, which I shouldn’t have done. Now that I have chosen to work on being healthy, going back to my natural state is a must because I work out everyday and it is just so much easier to work with my hair the way it is. I love my hair in its natural state, it’s short and I am back to my coppery red color. Being natural gives me a feeling of freedom that I never experienced with chemicals in my hair.
    Thanks so much for this website!!!

  3. Great article! I thought about things similar while transitioning. Like is my head too big for a twa or how to handle inconsiderate comments and critiques without having to get indignant.
    Since My Bigg Chop five weeks ago, I have not had an ounce of regret. I love my hair—every coil, kink, and nap! The most important thing is that it’s healthy.

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