Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Natural Hair Memories: Going Natural

A while ago a cousin of mine got a relaxer. She was a teenager, and I vaguely remember her hair being about shoulder length and straight and I believe it was also a blonde color at the time. One day I was heading towards her building to meet up with brother and sister who were around my age and I saw her stick her head out the window. She had no hair! She was sporting a TWA. When I asked my mom why my cousin had no hair she shook her head approvingly and said, that's what happens when women in our family get a perm. Your hair falls out and you gotta cut it all off.

Interestingly enough, when another cousin came to live with us and she had a relaxer my mother and grandmother informed her that she would be growing it out (she was about 10 at the time). My mother transitioned her hair with protective styling, careful not to put beads in hair hair like she did my sister and I because it wasn't strong enough. I watched slowly as she cut off her straight ends because my cousin still wanted long hair.

And finally, there was my phenomenal great-grandmother aka "Big Nana." For as long as I could remember she had really curly hair that she kept short that I now realized was a texturizer. I thought it was her natural texture and even hair color (she was born a red head) but one day I remember her telling my mom that she wanted it all off. So my mom took her clippers one afternoon and gave Big Nana a short TWA. Big Nana not only embraced her soft cotton coils, but she also embraced her white hair. To this day, she sports braids or big buns under summer hats.

A lot of these techniques that have names now (TWA, transitioning, "big chop") were things I witnesssed before blogs and Youtube. I didn't realize that these three people were "going natural" but it must've have been emotional. I remember Big Nana's grin on her face as she turned and asked if we liked her new look. My older cousin now sports long blonde locs. They did this before it was popular (in the mid-late 90s) and I remember them now.

Do you remember anyone going natural in your family, especially before the youtube/blogs? Feel free to share!

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