Like India Arie said…

When I was three years old, my hair grew down to my back in a thick curtain of curls. At that time, I lived in an old fashioned house in a neighborhood in Trinidad called Belmont. One day, these older girls plaited my hair into the iron chains of a swing and ran away, leaving me crying and screaming for someone to free me. My mother had to cut my hair out of the swing, and my long hair was chopped into an afro. At least that’s how I remember it. My mom says they cut off my hair when I was two, and I wore it in thick shoulder length plaits when I was three. The neighborhood mean girls did braid my hair into the swing, and my parents did have to cut my hair off. Either way, the very beginnings of my hair history were stressful. It always seemed unmanageable. It always had to be “dealt with.” I hated it.

As my hair grew thicker and coarser and curlier, I gave my family hell to comb it. When I was six, my mom took me to get my hair relaxed. She says that it was after an unbearable series of tantrums, and a lot of people were annoyed with her for straightening my hair so early. I understand in retrospect, but I always yearned for crazy, thick, cascading curls. I wanted to be Miss Diana Ross.

Instead, I had straight hair and bangs, and I had to get it set with rollers by my aunts every weekend.

I started experimenting with dye as a teenager, highlighting my hair blonde, then red, then orange. In my torrid and controversial romance with dye, I went through almost the entire color spectrum, starting with golden yellow and eventually ending with a terrible, misguided thud at midnight blue. My hair was fried. It looked beaten and hideous, and as a consequence of the chemical damage, it started breaking. I hacked it off, took a menopause cut, as my friend Richard said. I faithfully straightened my hair until 2002. I cut my hair ultra short for my wedding, and after that, I went all natural. Now, I can’t imagine myself with chemically straightened hair.

Don’t get me wrong, ladies. My hair philosophy is, do your do. What’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me. All I know is, the prospect of having to go to the hairdresser/pusher man for more burning, stinky white stuff to spread on my scalp with the intention of reversing my hair’s natural desire is less than tempting. I’m a grown woman now, and I can’t foresee it happening ever again in my future. I want my hair to be as long, strong, and beautiful as it wants to be, an extension of myself. Afrobella is dedicated to all of the women who have made a similar decision, to embrace and enhance their natural beauty. Let’s show the world what we’re working with.

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Comments

  1. I am really feeling this post. I am napptural, too, and have been for a while, 5 or 6 years now. I love my natural hair and could never even think of going back to the creamy crack (relaxer)! Keep rocking the natural, sis!

  2. Your face is beautiful enough that you can go with uncombed hair!

  3. awwww, thanks Mom.
    =)
    Love you!

  4. All right, let’s see ‘em! We want you to post those pictures of bella with blue hair! In fact, why don’t you give us the whole era-by-era timeline, with photos? That would be rad! Hate to think of you feeling insecure; you look so sunny and warm and stylish all the time and exude a beautiful, natural charm, and everyone who meets you says so.

  5. Grell this is lovely. Keep up the good work doll. love always, KAFI

  6. Who has not experienced the dreaded hair issue?I think this hair problem is torture on black girl’s psyche.I am a grown woman, who still get a little emotional, thinking about my memories of hair torture.Love your blog!Now,if I could just get some of my people off that stuff(perm).It is a hard habit to break.

  7. bronxafrochick says:

    Ms. bella, I was greatly refreshed at your post about natural hair-as a child I had broadly vivid and imaginative memories of always being put down or socially ostracized because I was one of or the only black girl in site who hadn’t fallen victim to the perm fromula and to many people for a black girl to not “look” like a black girl was weird and intimidating as I later in retrospect looked at the situation.Now as a women I feel blessed to have had a mother who nutured me and embraced my naturally beautiful hair and features and I don’t think i would ever want it any other way for myself or my children. Your post made me even more proud and special to be blessed with this brown skin,thick lips and coarsly curly hair that I sport in a afro everyday.keep it up girl. :)

  8. i think if more of us knew how versatile our natural hair is and can be maybe we would be more open to going natural. i am able to to do so many different styles working from a natural base. and on occasion i use my ceramic hair iron for a change up.

  9. 4883
    Get your Credit cards here.

  10. Good observation, your ideas are right on.

  11. ok i agree … good luck with your blog

  12. Preach it, sister! I have been cutting my hair into a bald fade since 1994. From birth, I have been teased about the so-called nappiness of my hair and as I grew older, the teasing got worse. It got to the point where I could no longer tolerate sitting in a beauty shop for 4-6 hours under a hot as hell hair dryer just to come out with hair that is too stiff and cute to sleep on and to let a man run his fingers through it because I have no blasted skills to put it back together the way the magician, I mean beautician did. Go on, girl!

  13. Ya know, I’ve been natural for 18 years now.
    And, in some respects I’m kinda of tired of it.
    Not of ‘it’ but of the constant dialogue about my hair:

    Sample questions I get:

    Do you have a professional job? (from girls who are either considering going natural and are afraid it won’t be ‘accepted’ at work). Answer: yes.

    Do men like it? (from same group of girls mentioned above). I’ve never had trouble meeting men. There’s the answer to that!

    How long did you transition? What products do you use? How long have you been natural? (from newbie naturals). I didn’t transition. I use whatever; nothing special. Drugstore stuff. It’s been a long time.

    Can I touch it? (from random folks on the street). Ummm…No.

    I just wish it didn’t have to become such a thing! Honestly, it’s hair. And it doesn’t warrant a barrage of questions.

    I won’t even go into the questions/reactions I get when I get it straightened.

    I really long for a day when how we wear our hair doesn’t have to be the catalyst for a huge discussion.

  14. Oh, yeah.
    Diana Ross is my goddess…I pay tribute to her at least thrice weekly.
    The outfit she’s rocking in the pic you posted? I’ll be rocking it too. Watch me.

    • I’m sure that is all her natural hair, and she was a pioneer in wearing it. But I do believe she started out with a weave, and you could tell it. Just being honest.

  15. seritasunflower says:

    Love your post! I did the BC in December, 09. I’m loving my natural hair state and becoming a product junkie! LOL

  16. Es conforme, este pensamiento magn??fico tiene que justamente a prop??sito

  17. Typically honest? Apart from the Obama folks here have long ceased to start a debate – rather they annoy other posters rather than sticking with the issues. So if you’re reading this, they have created a user on here very close to my own in order to minimic and annoy. Which is not debate either.

  18. I definitely understand everything you have mentioned. Actually, I browsed through your several other posts and I do think you’re totally correct. Congrats with this blog.

  19. To be a bit clearer, marriages (in USA, according to CDC) brides below the age of 20 are much more likely to be divorced than those over 20, and those under 18 most likely of all. Interestingly enough, the sample wasn’t very skewed there were only twice as many women 18-19 than women under 18. The CDC study didn’t correlate men’s age at all. No idea why.

Trackbacks

  1. Banker Site says:

    good job

    Think you are on track with this post

  2. [...] This song is basically the afrobella anthem. Check out my very first post for evidence. Basically do YOU, be who you want to be, and don’t transform yourself into who the world expects you to be. Be beautiful under your own conditions. If you can’t get behind that, then this isn’t the website for you. [...]

  3. [...] Um, my hand’s raised. And I don’t recall getting a say in how I wanted my hair combed, either (feel free to add a comment, familia). At that age, what with my Diana Ross aspirations, I’d have voted to wear my hair in a big bushy free form style every day. I would have gladly been a mini-Chaka Khan, strutting across my school’s playing field. [...]

  4. [...] My first post reads like a children’s fairy tale, and shows how far back my natural hair issues go. I realize that hair isn’t such a “political” statement for some — more on that later — but the process of going natural did wonders for my self esteem. It means more to me than just hair. It’s part of my identity. I think many of my most regular readers feel the same way, and I try to stay true to that aesthetic. But I want this site to be inclusive and warm and inviting to a variety of people. Just because I feel strongly about my own beauty doesn’t mean that I need to tear down someone else’s. That has never been my intention, and if I’ve ever pissed you off with my anti-relaxer beliefs, please understand that it wasn’t my goal to offend. Some of the proudest moments I’ve had have come from reading comments sent by ladies with relaxed hair, or from readers of different ethnic backgrounds. I love getting letters from different countries, and I’ve had all kinds of women, black, white, Latin, Asian, and Middle Eastern — people from Poland and Kuwait and Korea and Germany — write to tell me they love what I’m doing, and to keep up the good work. Afrobella truly is about embracing all shades of beautiful, and I love knowing that the message has reached so far and wide. [...]

  5. [...] years ago, I was exhausted. I’d stayed up all night writing my very first post and trying to learn how to embed a video on my brand new blog. I figured, what were the odds of [...]

  6. [...] My very first post explains why I got on this journey to begin with. It all begins with my childhood hair idol, Diana Ross. I tell you — seeing her in Central Park in 1983 seared an image in my brain that will never go away. I used to put that towel on my head and sashay down the stairs, singing “I want muscles,” when I was way too young to know what she was talking about. That’s where I first realized that hair didn’t have to be pin straightened within an inch of its life to be sexy. Diana and her power mane, FOREVER. WPvideo 1.10 [...]

  7. [...] My first post reads like a children’s fairy tale, and shows how far back my natural hair issues go. I realize that hair isn’t such a “political” statement for some — more on that later — but the process of going natural did wonders for my self esteem. It means more to me than just hair. It’s part of my identity. I think many of my most regular readers feel the same way, and I try to stay true to that aesthetic. But I want this site to be inclusive and warm and inviting to a variety of people. Just because I feel strongly about my own beauty doesn’t mean that I need to tear down someone else’s. That has never been my intention, and if I’ve ever pissed you off with my anti-relaxer beliefs, please understand that it wasn’t my goal to offend. Some of the proudest moments I’ve had have come from reading comments sent by ladies with relaxed hair, or from readers of different ethnic backgrounds. I love getting letters from different countries, and I’ve had all kinds of women, black, white, Latin, Asian, and Middle Eastern — people from Poland and Kuwait and Korea and Germany — write to tell me they love what I’m doing, and to keep up the good work. Afrobella truly is about embracing all shades of beautiful, and I love knowing that the message has reached so far and wide. [...]

  8. [...] being introduced to and amazed by afrobella’s blog, especially after reading her very first blog entry, i was inspired to write a similar story of my upbringing. brace yourself, it’s pretty long! [...]

  9. [...] bella | Aug 16, 2010 | Comments 0 tweetmeme_url = 'http://www.afrobella.com/2010/08/16/happy-birthday-afrobella/';tweetmeme_source = 'afrobella';Well…belated birthday. The actual first post didn’t go up on August 14, 2006. [...]

  10. [...] this here blog since day one KNOWS what I’m gonna be doing on Friday! Paying homage to the woman who ignited a love of big hair in this Trini girl’s heart. Which song will Diana do on Oprah? I can only imagine! But here are my top five hopes.I’m [...]

  11. [...] stayed up all night writing my first ever blog post, and learning basic HTML so I could include links and videos to my blog. (Back in those days, [...]

  12. [...] purchased. By August 14, 2006 I figured out how to post and I got my first ever blog post up – now it reads like a manifesto of sorts. I remember staying up until 3 a.m on August 15, trying to figure out how to embed a video for this [...]

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