Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Change... Not By Choice But Change Nevertheless

The title of this week's post is mis-leading.  One always has choice.  However, my choice to wear my hair naturally came from Cancer first; evolution and enlightenment followed.

Toni Staton Harris
Today I watched one of my favorite writer's, speaker and "image activist", Michaela Angela Davis and recognized that we wear our hair in similar styles. Don't get me wrong, Ms. Davis along with many others have been un-apologetically rocking natural hair styles for years.  It was today I realized that in listening to her unabashed courage to embrace our natural beauty, I rock my natural with pride and commitment.
Michaela Angela Davis
Writer~Speaker~Image Activist

Listening to Ms. Davis speak so profoundly as she often does, made me wonder... If I hadn't endured Cancer would I have been "rocking" my Natural?  To be honest, I doubt it.

Although I continued to press my hair, I had long--ten plus years--called myself out of relaxers.  I've worn a weave once, for about six weeks--much to my husband's chagrin.  And wigs are not my thing either, even during chemo.  When my hair seemed slow to grow back, I'd resolved to wear a bald or exceptionally close cut.  I'm not shaming those who wear wigs, weaves, relaxers or added hair for braids.  I champion a woman's right to "rock" her beauty, her way.

My hair has grown back and while I've experienced much freedom, challenges have not eluded me. Now that I've committed to allow very little heat to touch my mane, I find that my hair, my texture and strands have minds of their own.  Some days my strands, with little use of product, coil perfectly. Other days I get a straight nap or kink no matter how much product I use.

I have two different distinct textures on my head so, what you see in the front is not what you get from my crown, back.  This dilemma is not my entire challenge. Although I moisturize my hair daily, it tends to look dry.  Because I am striving for length, I have not cut my hair into a shape.  It takes me longer to shape my hair even with product.

If I am honest with me, which is my attempt with this post... I find I must put in the same amount of work with my natural hair as I did when I fought to keep it straight.  If it were not for some thoughtful hair specialists, I would have relaxed the heck out of my edges, leaving me with none.  I would have had the same issue with pressing my hair if not for another brilliant hair specialist who encouraged me to embrace the natural kink in my edges that arose from sweat, two minutes after fanning the heat from her comb.

For more than twenty years I maintained a straight, long flowy bob-style haircut.  I remember one of my nephews indirectly challenged me as he highlighted, "... Aunt Toni never changes her hair..." A year following Cancer, another acquaintance pointed out my change of hairstyle as the reason why she didn't recognize me upon our re-connection.  "Oh yeah, you used to wear your hair like Caucasians..." She boldly stated.

I say all of that to say this... the challenge and maintenance of my natural hair is worth it.  And had I not endured Cancer and losing my hair, truthfully, I probably wouldn't have made the switch, the change.

The evolution is that I no longer fight with the kink, coil, curl or lack thereof.  I no longer fight my hair.

"We don't need defined curls to be beautiful so I don't paint defined curls..." ~ Debra Cartwright, Painter


The enlightenment  is that I no longer use the excuse of having had Cancer as to why I choose to wear my hair naturally.

How I got here is not important.  That I'm here and here to stay--embrace my beautiful most natural self--is my greatest gift to me and the world.