Going Natural Changed my Life! | Waking Up
Going natural changed my life. Or better put, going natural put me on the path that led to a new and improved, better me! I recently had a conversation with a barber. (On the Couch fans know what a big deal that was!) The conversation evolved into me giving my two cents on how he could improve his business, which led to the statement from him, “I wish more women would embrace their natural hair.”
To which I replied “I agree! But don’t worry, Peace Love & Sunshine is here and that is our mission! We want to see the numbers of women going natural, drastically increasing.”
He then said, “Well you got a supporter in me. I am so sick of seeing all these women walking around with fake hair and wigs. What’s wrong with their own hair?! There is nothing I hate more than running my fingers through tracks!”
“Oh yes! This weave addiction has got to go! It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. A lot of women have weave addictions. And I know because I used to be one of them.”
“You?!??! I don’t believe it. I just can’t see it.”
“Believe it! I was a weave queen! I had serious issues. Weaves, fake nails, high heels everywhere I went, shopping all the time, trying to buy my worth. Yes! If you met me 4 years ago you would not believe I was the same person!”
“And going natural changed all that?!”
“Well, yes and no…”
In 2008 while living in Atlanta, I came face to face with myself. Walking the streets of the city, hanging out in the clubs and malls, sitting at the bars of the trendy restaurants were countless carbon copies of me. Beautiful, brown, Barbie dolls. Complete with long flowing Remi, Indian, fake hair, face full of MAC make-up, cute trendy costume earrings, the cutest, trendiest, most “I am so fabulous” looking outfit that could fit (or be squeezed) into the budget, high heels matching the purse which was hanging on the hinge of the elbow, with the arm extended out as though waiting for a cash tip to be inserted into the palm for the effort it took to get dressed.
I began to see woman after woman, girl after girl, looking, acting and talking just like me, it was overwhelming. At first I thought “Yes! This is my type of town. I can wear heels; there is always something to do and somewhere to go." (Basically, places where I wear my costume, pose and look at others in their costumes.)
I had the pleasure of shopping in some of the nicest, biggest beauty supply stores I had ever seen, and to my amazement they had every type of hair you could ever want! I was like a kid in a candy store or a fiend in the crack house. They had walls full of hair and entire sections dedicated to wigs. I could go into a beauty supply store, sit in a chair in front of a mirror and have an assistant help me try on wigs. It was perfect!
Weekends, the malls were full of hungry shoppers looking for the hottest outfit for the night. And I was with them. I prided myself on accumulating lots of filled bags from the different stores. They were my trophies. The more bags I had on my arm the more I felt I was worth! I had to be somebody if I could tear up the mall like they bragged about in hip hop songs and videos! I was able to talk about my MAC addiction with other addicts and shell out $60.00 a pop just to try to recreate a rainbow on my eyelids.
I was able to go to upscale nail salons where the work was so exquisite that it was common to sit all day waiting for service. But a whole day was a small price to pay for cute nails right?!?!? I needed my fill-in and designs. I knew which nail technician I wanted, so if I needed to wait over an hour for him, so be it! No bourgeois, party girl, Barbie doll was complete without her matching mani and pedi!
In the midst of all that, I became aware that the image I had worked so hard to perfect, the look I was going for, was not original at all and was quite shallow. After a few months it became almost sickening to see the many different shades of me traipsing the streets of the City. I became more aware of the “image” issue as I went to club after club, party after party and saw all of these dolled up, G’d up people, who had just paid $50, like me, to get into the club, standing around just looking at each other. No one was having fun; no one was dancing or mingling. People were just there to be seen. It was disgusting! Everyone was standing around like someone had paid them to be there. They looked bored and uninterested. Yet they were there. That was one of the signs that what I was into, my lifestyle, was not as fulfilling as I had expected it to be.
Prior to moving there, I had mistakenly believed I had come up with my style and look all by myself. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with buying hair, spending all of my money on my image, needing to be seen and honing a bourgeois attitude. I thought it was a sign of my ascension into greatness to have a snotty attitude and add a bit more “snob” to my tone and vocabulary. I thought I was accomplishing something, and therefore had to assert my superiority through my wardrobe, fragrance and perfectly applied make-up. I thought Beyonce’ was my friend, and that since I dressed and danced like her, and wore my hair long and cascading like her, that if we were to meet we would instantly be best friends. We looked alike so weren’t we on the same level?
At that time I was more interested in looking the part than anything else. I thought that if I could just pull off the right look, everyone would know how wonderful I was. Isn’t that the sign of success, driving a nice car? Wearing nice, expensive, perfectly styled and accessorized clothes? Eating at trendy restaurants? Weren’t those the signs of a happy person?
There I was face to face with the truth that I was merely a product of too much hip-hop, too much television, the wrong friends, low self esteem, an identity crisis and some very clever marketing strategies. The truth hit me like a ton of bricks. I saw it and I hated it! I despised who I had become. Hiding under the layers of merchandise was someone I didn’t even know anymore. From what I could recall, the old me, who I had ditched a long time ago,was pretty amazing. A little quiet, and weird, interested in things most folks found boring and lame, yet silly and fun loving. But she was just about dead. She had been replaced by a bourgeois monster!
I decided I wanted to revive her and get to know her. I wanted to know who am I. Really? What do I like? If I put my looks on the back burner, what amazing things could I do? If I stopped being a sheep and following the crowd what amazing feats could I accomplish?
So in an effort to get to know the real me, I cut off my hair. I was not going natural. I was simply letting go of the character, the costume, the disguise. I also stopped watching TV, stopped listing to hip hop/rap, and gave away all my party girl clothes. I soaked off the fake nails, and reduced my makeup to just eyes and lip gloss. I did it not because I was interested in natural hair. I did it because I was interested in natural Sunshine. Sunshine without all the additives. Sunshine the way God intended.