Embracing Your Natural Look

This Tuesday we have the amazing Ruth from Just Rambling…

First off, thanks so much, Jenna, for allowing me to write a post for your blog! I truly enjoy reading your posts and think you are a great writer! Keep it up, you rock!

Black hair… As I read magazines, watch television or look at random people walking on the streets, I wonder, ‘what the heck is wrong with black hair?’ When I say ‘black hair’ I am certainly not talking about the color black. Although black hair is usually black, duh, it isn’t always black. See, my hair is referred to as ‘black hair’ too, but it’s actually brown. So when I say black hair, I’m referring to afro-textured hair predominantly found in the Black portion of the world’s population.

Growing up in a white community I soon found out that my hair was different.
I learned that my hair had specific needs. I couldn’t just go to a hairdresser that was only used to cutting the silky, straight and smooth hair of my friends. I couldn’t just go to the nearest store and buy the same hairspray my friends used.
My hair would freak out and yell at me if I did that.

I learned to be happy with my hair. Yeah, maybe I had to drive a few hours to find a good hairdresser and yeah, maybe I had to pay a little extra for that special hairspray, but I couldn’t be bothered by it.
As I read magazines and see Beyoncé’s various hairdo’s, I think, ‘Girl, show me your real hair. Show me your natural black hair.’ I’m sorry to see so many black celebrities like Beyoncé and Rihanna wear weaves and wigs all the time. Oh, Tyra Banks?
Don’t even get me started on Tyra Banks.
They are black, but it’s like they’re trying to walk around with their hair looking as Caucasian as possible.

And then there are tons of black people who do chemical treatments for their hair.
They relax their hair. Relaxing your hair is more than telling your hair to chill and not worry about rain or anything. It’s a chemical treatment to straighten your hair.
You do it to get rid of your nappy hair. If you don’t apply the cream right, your hair is going to break or it’ll burn your scalp. Nasty.
There’s nothing wrong with relaxing your hair, but all I’m wondering is why in the world are so many black chicks willing to weary their hair with dangerous chemical treatments just to make it look like white chick hair?
All of them want their hair to dance in the wind.
Yeah, I know there are many white celebrities wearing extensions too, but it seems as if many black people are scared to embrace their natural look.
Just one day in Amsterdam, I get to count hundreds of black people walking around with relaxed hair, wearing weaves, wigs, etc. They had anything but their real hair.
And don’t get me wrong, I love “good hair”. I don’t have it, but I love it. But this is all about being happy with what God gave you.

Let me tell you a little bit of my own story.
One day I woke up and thought that I had a great idea. I was going to perm my hair.
I called the special black hair hairdresser and made an appointment. I drove 2 boring hours to get my hair done. I went in with straight hair and left that day with super cool happy and curly hair. The next day I noticed my face was a little bit red, nothing to be alarmed about, but I did think it was odd.
As the days went by, I noticed red rash on my face. Since I really don’t like going to the doctor, it took me ages to realize that I really had to go. It got worse and worse so I went to the doctor. He gave me something, but it didn’t help, in fact the rash got worse. Crap.
At one point the skin on my face hurt so flipping bad and it burned. It felt as if my face was on fire. I couldn’t touch my face or smile because it burned like hell.
When I couldn’t take it anymore I hurried to the doctor one night. The doctor looked at me and said, ‘aw, no way, you must be in so much pain now!’. But she couldn’t give me anything.
I was desperate. Here I was, my face was full of red rash, it burned, it hurt like hell and no one was able to help me. The next morning I didn’t give up and hurried to the doctor again. This time it was a different doctor. He saw my face, winced and gave me burn ointment. I wasn’t allowed to use it for more than 1 week because of all the hormones in it.
After a week I went back, no change. My skin didn’t hurt as bad anymore, but it was still really, really bad. The doctor didn’t know what to do anymore and sent me to the hospital. Apparently my case was so rare that the physician had to take pictures so he could discuss it with other physicians. They did a biopsy to examine my skin.
They couldn’t find what was wrong and I was left desperate without any hope my face would heal.
After a few appointments he gave me a special ointment he made.
All I knew for sure was that it had to do with my perm treatment. I was very angry at myself. Why couldn’t I stay the way I was? Why did I have to do the chemical, nasty treatment? I was stupid. I shouldn’t have done it. But I know it’s all very easy to say that with hindsight.
The ointment caused my skin to peel off and within a few months I had new skin.
The physician explained that my new skin was sensitive like baby skin and couldn’t be exposed to sun for a while. I couldn’t really care, I was OK, and my skin was super clean and soft as a baby.

I know all of this doesn’t happen a lot, I know so many people who did the same perm treatment and nothing happened. It was just bad luck. But it left me wondering, really… why relax your hair if it’s so dangerous? Why perm your hair? Why wear weaves and wigs? Why go through all this trouble just to walk around with “good hair”? Why not embrace your natural look, be happy with that and let your hair relax for real by NOT treating it chemically?

I know this is kind of an anti-climax, but I still relax my hair every now and then.
Not as often as I used to, but I still do it. Perm my hair? No. No, never, ever, ever. Not in a bazillion years. Not for a bazillion billion dollars.
One day I hope I will have enough courage to stay away from hair relaxers. One day I hope I will have enough courage to fully embrace my natural look.

All I can say is, ‘yay Lauryn Hill!’. She did it and you know what, the natural black hair look is beautiful!

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22 Comments

  1. I appreciate posts that get people talking! Well done!

    Reply
  2. Hair is a great subject for storytelling. I enjoyed reading this … I have jet black hair and I’ve noticed some gray on the sides. So I dye the bits of gray, or I’ll end up looking like Cruella DeVille.

    Reply
    • Ruth D.

       /  July 27, 2011

      Hahahah, Cruella DeVille? That’s funny! 🙂
      I don’t think it’s that bad though 😛
      Your gravatar looks pretty happy!

  3. Lotus Flower

     /  July 27, 2011

    Well, being a black woman and relating to what you are speaking of is indeed true. But, I cannot say that I am trying to be white or have my hair look white because I choose to stick with a relaxer. There’s a difference between the argument of going natural and staying in a chemical treatment. Why are we all using proactiv to clear our face when we can just increase our intake of water. I am sorry that you had that experience with your relaxer … but being afraid of wearing my natural hair has nothing to do with trying to be a white girl.

    I just like to have my hair straight. I hated having nappy hair and I am proud to say that I never have until I got my hair off. It’s just my preference and I embrace it just as much as the next black woman. Excellent post though but I just disagree with a lot of what is being said about “being white” because I choose to wear wigs and have a chemical treatment! 🙂

    Reply
    • Lotus Flower

       /  July 27, 2011

      Oh yeah, I would like to be considered for a guest blog sometime!

    • Ruth D.

       /  July 27, 2011

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      I never said that people who use relaxers are trying to be white. Because that’s not true. Like I said, I still use relaxers, but I’m definitely not trying to be white or anything. I’m black-ish, more peanut butter to be honest 😉 and I’m proud of it. I was just saying that MANY times black people do all these things with their hair because they want “good hair” so badly. We live in a community where straight hair is considered beautiful and black hair weird, difficult to handle and in some cases even ugly. I was just trying to say that all of these things are just not true. Many people go through so many things and spend so much money on their hair because they hate their natural black hair.

      If you relax your hair because you are trying to fit in a white community, then you have a problem. If you relax your hair because you like it and you love yourself anyways, then I guess you’re OK. I just think it’s sad that I never got to see Beyoncé’s real hair. Always wearing expensive weave…
      Anyway, again, thanks for commenting. I think it’s great that this brings up discussions! And maybe we don’t really agree with each other, but that’s fine, no hard feelings! 😉

  4. Ruthie: That wouldn’t happen to you. You have a beauuutiful face. You’d carry it well!
    PKLB – I used to pluck my gray hairs out when there were just 3-5. They seem to be growing in number. I gotta confess, I’m gonna colour my hair when it gets crazy, but around 50, I’ll surrender. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ruth D.

       /  July 27, 2011

      Haha, thanks 😀
      Who knows…About the gray hairs…whenover my mom points one out I almost faint. Seriously, see, if I were blonde, I wouldn’t faint. But if your hair is super dark and it’s turning gray, well…then it’s harder to just go with it, you know.
      So, until I surrender when I’m 89, I think I’m gonna freak out whenever I see one. LOL!
      It’s funny though, if I saw you with a few gray hairs here and there, I totally wouldn’t think it was odd or ugly or whatever. But when it comes to me, I FREAK OUT AAAAARRGHH!!!!!!!!

  5. What a great post! I like the way you write, like I am having a conversation with you. It was fun to read. My hair is turning silver. Thank goodness it is a pretty silver and not just plain gray. I get compliments on it so I have never dyed it. Ala natural!

    Reply
    • Ruth D.

       /  July 27, 2011

      Haha, thank you 🙂
      Thanks for reading! Yay for natural! I like it that you never dyed it!

  6. I plan on embracing my natural look soon. I started graying in my early twenties, and what was once coloring my hair for fun, soon became a necessity. I keep it dyed blonde to blend the gray roots in when they come out, because now I am nearly 100% gray. For the longest time I felt I was still too young to be gray, but next November I turn 50 and am determined to embrace my fifties being myself. Okay..well I hope so anyway.

    Reply
    • Ruth D.

       /  July 27, 2011

      That is great! And gray is beautiful, you know?! So go for it!

  7. I think you are naturally Stunning!! Thanks for this post….too often we get caught up in our view of the world, and cannnot understand another’s perspective. Beauty, and specifically where women are concerned, is such a packaged commodity these days. You can change anything you don’t like about yourself; physically speaking. When I think it would be so much more wonderful to embrace the real you; the special, glorious person God created.

    Reply
    • Ruth D.

       /  July 27, 2011

      Aw…thank you! 🙂
      It is true what you’re saying, I fully agree. Thanks for reading! 😀

  8. Great post! What you’re saying, Ruthie, is so true! People are convinced that straight is better, and if it’s curly, it’s only good if it’s a certain sort of pattern. It’s all crazy to me. I haaate going to the beauty salon. I don’t get why women think it’s so great to go there and waste the day. It’s horrible. And boring. The only thing that rocks is the shampoo. Scrub, scrub, tingle, tingle! I cut my hair all off to get rid of the relaxed ends in 2005. (My mom had been relaxing my hair from I was FOUR! She said it was pretty, but thick, and she couldn’t deal with my hair AND hers.) Never. Looking. Back. Natural hair is just way too easy. Shower, moisturize, and go! Short hair, don’t care! Hahaha

    Reply
    • Ruth D.

       /  July 26, 2011

      Haha, I’m gonna remember that: ‘short hair, don’t care!’ 😀
      Yeah, sometimes I wish I could cut it like really, REALLY short too. But I’m too chicken, haha! Seriously. You know what’s really crap? If you do it and it looks uuuugly!

  9. 🙂 I agree with you all women should embrace who they are.. Naturally 🙂 Great Post Ruth!!

    Reply
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