black stylists mad at black women growing their own natural hair

An Open Letter to Newly Natural Women,

I regret to inform you that I don’t have any hair-care tips. I’m not a natural hair blogger, and I rarely wash my curls. I’m actually a shitty naturalista. I don’t espouse the virtues of big chops and twist outs. I don’t look down on relaxers, sulfates, or parabens. I’m not into mixing moisturizers in my kitchen sink; I wish I was, but I don’t even like to cook. I keep protective styles in for way too long, and I suspect they become a liability.

That said, I want to share what I do know.

When I decided to go natural, I sat and watched the rain. I watched raindrops mix with fog and disappear in midair. I watched moisture in action and lamented my own fate. I’m black and my hair is THICK. This is gonna be tough. On that day, I discovered what I learn every day – going natural means giving up control.

If nobody has told you, let me be the first: you’re more beautiful when you give up the illusion of control. You are most beautiful when you lean into the reality of the moment, regardless of what it looks like on your head. You’re most attractive when, after unraveling your twist out, you walk unwittingly into a spontaneous thunder storm (this will occur). As your hair snakes its way into the shape of a storm cloud, you are more beautiful than you can even imagine. The experience of going natural is inherently transformative because it forces you to accept yourself and your ever-changing form.

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It forces you into cooperation with the earth.

I’m writing this to you because I just realized I am natural. I unraveled my big braids, and discovered my own hair. I looked at myself and fell in love with my three-year journey. I’m writing so you know this place exists. This moment of self-love will indeed find you. Despite the time spent pulling you hair down to your chin, the years go by more quickly than you think. Whether or not you troll YouTube and make conditioners every night, if you give your hair some time (and the protection it deserves), it will become exactly what you desire.

The same is true, by the way, of your own heart.

There’s something else I should probably mention:  On the day I discovered that I’m both beautiful and natural, three people told me I looked like Sideshow Bob…

This brings me to another natural lesson.

The struggle to feel beautiful on your own terms never ends. It doesn’t end with the big chop, the bra-strap length, or the slick bob. It doesn’t end with the fresh perm, the new wig, or bomb weave. It doesn’t end with a slender waistline or a new pair of heels. The struggle to define your beauty is ongoing and relentless. The awkward phase doesn’t end. It simply shifts and gets softer, but there is wisdom and strength in moving through your awkward moments. Eventually you become your own balm. Your understanding of your own beauty becomes enough.

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Today I send love to all blossoming naturalistas. I send love to all my sisters in the transition struggle. I send love to the hair bloggers and YouTube beauty gurus – I’m convinced you’re all going straight to heaven.  I send love to the relaxed women who feel pressure to go natural – stay creamy and continue to love yourself as you see fit. I send love to all women who, in the absence of their hair, are learning to see their faces for the first time. I even send love to the women who read this letter, and roll their eyes because they’re over all the hype.

We are all our own works of art; our hair is simply another canvas. Continue to do what feels natural…for you. No matter where the journey takes you, you are loved.

Love always,

Patia

Patia Braithwaite is a Brooklyn-based relationship blogger and life coach. Her wellness and relationship articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Yahoo Shine, Clutch Magazine and Bounce Back.com. She is the founder of The Untitled Love Project, a three month coaching program that prompts folks to ask the question: What would I do if I loved myself more? Check out her musings and offerings out at: www.menmyselfandgod.com.