Why I went Natural

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I have gotten perms from as long as I can remember. And before that I remember sitting between my mothers legs, in my grandmothers house (with whom we all lived in the projects in Durham, NC), and watching for the hot comb on the stove to be ready to tame my puffy hair into silky straight acceptance. Of course after that came the two strand twist topped with plastic ball hair ties and finished with a colorful clip bow or even a few beads. Hair. Hair and keeping your hair maintained was just what we did, or what my mother did in the early 1980’s. Even though we didn’t have much it was always imperative that we still got our hair done and looked presentable. I remember walking up the hill to church with my grandmother, cousins and aunts in my Sunday best. I can close my eyes and picture myself, at 3 or even 4 and remember exactly how my hair was done and feeling proud of my pigtails and the crazy zigzag design my mom had created for that week.

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I hated braids and cornrows and how a yank of a piece of hair could make me yelp and bring tears to my eyes. I can remember holding my ear and hoping and praying that my ear or edges wouldn’t be burned with the hot comb. I remember how uncomfortable and tight my head felt on the first few days and waiting for the tightness to pass. By the time I was 10 I was getting Just for Me perms for several years to straighten my hair. By the time I was 12 I had temple alopecia (permanent hair loss on temples). I still have alopecia although now just on the right side and it is 100% better than it was even 5 years ago. I also do a pretty good job of hiding it and strategically parting my hair. I got perms and experimented with Microbraids (the worst for your hair), Senegalese twist, heavy intensive curling of my own hair from middle school until 2013. In 2013 I went to Paris and had an unfortunate accident with a curling iron.

Apparently my curling iron wasn’t compatible with the voltage and I essentially burned my hair to a crisp. It was so damaged and ravaged and that’s when I discovered Amaany at Morkinks.com. I wanted something that looked natural but that also gave my hair a rest and still allowed me to get to my roots. I started getting marley twists. I loved the look and how well the hair blended with my natural hair at the root. I also loved that it wasn’t tight and didn’t pull my hair. Amaany uses the invisible technique by taking two strands of my own hair wrapping it around the Marley hair and then twisting the two strands. This gives the appearance that the hair is growing straight out of my head and allows me to be able to thoroughly moisturize my roots daily. I got Marley twist every 2.5 months like clockwork for 2.5 years. In 2015 I cut off all my permed hair. I never looked back.

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Photography by Nigel Clark

Top: Thrifted | Linen Pants: American Apparel | Shoes: Tibi | Lip: Nars Cruella | Sunnies: Karen Walker

I wore my afro out for the first time yesterday. I don’t know what took me so long but I felt a little self conscious about it. It’s so funny how much hair can change your look, the way your accessories and clothes are worn, the colors that look better on you. I feel as though I have to kinda change a few things to suit my new style. It’s all so new and fun and exciting. Although I’ve been natural for 3 years, I have very little experience with my hair and how to manage it but I’m excited to learn. As I was walking down the street today, another natural gal told me she loved my hair. And with that the self consciousness melted away. I’m looking forward to my very first Curl Fest today!

xx

Monroe

PS. Mom, sorry I ran away from home that time you gave me two corn rows as a hairstyle and made me eat oatmeal for breakfast. (I hated cornrows and even more than them I hated oatmeal.) Thanks Dad for nearly mowing me off the road and forcing me back into the car during my getaway attempt.

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14 responses to “Why I went Natural”

  1. Ria says:

    Your afro looks good! I’ve never worn mine out anywhere serious, only the confines of my old neighborhood. You do have to change everything I feel like too, because everything is different about you. So crazy how hair does that. I just can’t commit, it’s too much for me. It also changes how old I look which I don’t much like. lolol.

    xx

    • monroesteele says:

      Girl, I totally understand not being able to handle it but I definitely want to try. It does change everything. But its a fun change, I’m looking forward to learning how to manage it lol. I’d love to see your fro.

      xx
      Monroe

  2. AJ says:

    Your hair is gorgeous ! Your hair journey gives me hope. Swooon!

  3. Your hair looks fabulous!

  4. JT says:

    You have no idea how GORGEOUS you look with that afro. I “went natural” almost a year ago and had the same thoughts, trepidation, and past hair experiences. To my surprise, I’ve never been complimented and commended more than with my natural hair. People of all backgrounds remark on my hair and I’m not sure I’ll ever turn back. Natural hair can be polarizing which is more enlightening than discouraging. Rock it and LOVE it. People may stare but even those people often just want to compliment your hair and confidence.

  5. Ann says:

    I am also loving the neutral colors and pastels also nude pinks. they are so amazing and pretty. Love your denim outfit, it’s so casual and unique you look so fab . ^^

    http://www.itsbeyondimaginations.blogspot.com

  6. Debbie says:

    Your hair looks awesome!

  7. I love everything about this look, the hair, the pants, the shoes, etc . Gorg!!!!

  8. Maya D. says:

    I can totally relate to this, I was so tender headed as a child and though I bare the pain better than I did as a kid, Its still a struggle, especially when it comes to getting braids and such. Oh, and that hot comb, I had flash backs about my poor ears and edges getting burned, Lol! It was so bad. I love your hair and I’m so happy that you were able to embrace your natural beauty. If you had not mentioned alopecia I wouldn’t have know, you do a wonderful job with you hair, it’s grown to be so full and healthy. You go girl. Love you look to, super chic.

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