The 13th of October 2007 was the date of my last relaxer, but I didn’t know that at the time. I’d always thought I was going to relax my hair again as it was the only life I knew. I was one of the those kids who got a relaxer as a child. I was 6 years old and my hair was flowing down my back, the envy of many girls and quite proud of it to be honest.

But secondary school came along and I was sucked into the ‘gel up’ trend; your baby hairs had to be on fleek, the peacock fan had to defy gravity and it wasn’t cool for your mum to do your hair anymore.

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Circa 1999 – before I got a relaxer

All of this took a toll on my hair, which meant my hair was breaking at an alarming rate. So my mum decided to stop relaxing my hair and grow it out. So, be-known to me, my transition journey had started at the age of 12.

Transitioning

“I couldn’t see the beauty in the kinky-curly texture that was growing underneath the mess of the brittle, relaxed hair”

Transitioning is not easy! I didn’t know about the natural hair community on YouTube and blogs. I didn’t even know I was going natural. My mum did her best to help me but I was difficult, fidgety and tender headed so dealing with two different textures was very difficult. I cried whilst trying to detangle my hair and I was just so disappointed. I often thought ‘my  hair was beautiful, what is this horrible mess?’. I couldn’t see the beauty in the kinky-curly texture that was growing underneath the mess of brittle, relaxed hair.

Just before my big chop at 14 years old- Circa  2009 

 

This lasted for 2 years. As you can tell, I was reluctant to let go, but I did my big chop in some time in 2009. At this point I was ready to relax my hair. I begged my mum. Begged! She wasn’t budging. So I asked her to get my hair relaxed for my year 11 prom and she finally agreed.

Embracing my natural hair

   “My mum sat there with her ‘I told you so’ face.”

Prom day. I got up, excited for prom and the fact that I didn’t have to deal with an afro again. My natural hair had grown to shoulder length (stretched) and I didn’t particular love it.  I had 3 textures in my hair (4a to 4c) and it was difficult to detangle, but it grew really well. At the salon, I asked for a relaxer and the hairdressers talked me out of it.

‘Your hair is gorgeous!’

‘Look at that texture!’

‘You don’t need a relaxer, embrace your natural hair!’

My mum sat there with her ‘I told you so’ face.

Afro hair and beauty live 2013 – I was such a product junkie!

After prom, I started to get interested in maintaining and styling my natural hair and welcomed the product junkie phase.

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I’m grateful I’ve embraced my natural hair, and it might sound cliché but it was the beginning of embracing myself. I think this was the combination of being an adolescent growing up and seeing more positive images of women with natural hair, loving and embracing it.

 

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Sporting a braidout – May 2016

Tiffany Afia

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