I went natural 16 years ago when the Natural Hair Movement was in its infancy. In fact, the last time I relaxed my hair was for senior prom. Back then, budding naturalistas had to know somebody who knew somebody in order to get a big chop – and I lived in New York. The woman who shorn my straight, shoulder-length tresses was named Bastet, and to me she was a goddess just like her Egyptian namesake. She had beautiful waist-length locs and a comforting aura. But even with these attributes, Bastet had to work from her son’s barber shop because that was as close as there was to a natural hair salon. (Fortunately, black men were no longer getting perms and relaxers in the ’90s.) Even though I was clearly committed to making the big chop, Bastet repeatedly asked me if I was ready to cut off all the relaxed hair. I guess she didn’t want a raging young woman screaming for her head after becoming regretful. But I did it, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I wore my hair in palm-rolled twists at first. And when it grew a bit, I wore two-strand twists followed by a kinky Afro you may now know as a twist out. Then, when I had a decent amount of hair, my mom gave me my first real ‘Fro. I remember walking down Fordham Road in the Bronx, feeling my gravity-defying hair bouncing with every step as onlookers stared in amazement. But it wasn’t long before I got bored and my hair became dry and stressed. You see, in 2000 there wasn’t the plethora of natural hair products that are now available on the market, (Heck, I don’t even remember there being flat-irons for Black hair, then.) so I decided to get locks, as my mom and a couple of cousins had already done.