Ten years ago, the words ‘natural’ and ‘beauty’ were mutually exclusive, unless used in reference to Germanic-Brazilian supermodels. George W. Bush was our president, Von Dutch was all the rage, and white normative beauty standards were the only beauty standards that mattered. Ten years ago, when I started my natural hair journey, I lived in the margins.
Going natural before 2008 was a bit like being a pioneer on the Oregon trail, minus the wholesale slaughter of indigenous people.
I was one of those pioneers.
Looking back on my decade-long journey to self love, I realize that my hair and psyche went through the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally, Acceptance. I was not mourning the death of my relaxed hair, but rather coming to terms with the loss of socio-political acceptance and relative invisibility that comes with wearing exclusively white normative hairstyles. Each stage was filled with hard earned lessons about my own preconceptions and self perceptions that have shaped me into the woman I am today.
In Requiem for a Relaxer: Confessions of a Born Again Natural, I explore what it means to be a woman of color living outside the confines of societal expectations for my hair. It is my hope that by being publicly vulnerable, I can stop mourning the loss of a life in the margins and start celebrating the joy of one lived fully on the page.
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If, as co-founder of Natural Haircare News, the mission is to change attitudes about natural hair, then, within that, as an actress and a “Hollywood Natural”, my personal mission is to change the standard image in Hollywood of who is seen as leading lady beautiful.