August 30, 2012

My Natural Hair Journey: Accidentally Natural

My name is Jhanelle and I am an Accidental Natural.

I relaxed my hair as a teenager and when I went wasn't because I wanted to proudly rock my afro...or explore my natural hair texture...or even learn more about my curls...Nah.

This was right before I went natural
 permanently. It was the shortest
 it's ever been. I couldn't even put it
 into a ponytail!
I was tired of relaxer burns...having damaged hair...having my damaged hair break off...relaxer burns....not being able to put my hair in a ponytail....relaxer burns....not being able to dance in the rain without ruining my wash and set... relaxer burns....and 6 hour hair dresser visits with false promises of "I know it's breaking but if you cut your hair it'll grow" LIES.

Another major reason I decided to stop relaxing was I was tired of the influence that other people had on my hair (i.e., family, friends, hair dressers). When I went natural the first time (I was 15) I permed it again because everyone was like:

"You can't keep pressing it forever."

"Why don't you perm your hair, it'll be easier."

"Do a texturizer, it'll be milder." LIES.

"Jhan, you need to fix your hair." (This is my father's favourite line lol)

First time natural.

I succumbed to peer pressure the first time but the second time around I was adamant that I wasn't going back. I figured it was my hair, I can do what I wanted with it.

Secretly, I had NO CLUE ....can I repeat...NO CLUE what I was going to do with my hair. All I knew was that I wasn't perming it anymore...whatever happened to it...would happen.  And that made me feel good...a little rebellious...but good.

My first time natural, I put my hair in braids and plaits. I hated braids though. Not for the look, I love the look, but for the pain. And this time around I refused to do pain again. My mom use to say "Beauty is pain." I'd rather be ugly. Honestly.

First Year

So, I was like: NO perm. NO braids. [BOSS FACE]

I pressed my roots for a while and wore my hair up in one a lot. 
First year: In one, slicked back with gel,
water & held with a headband. Yes,
 ladies, I wouldn't comb that out
 for a week! Just reapplied gel and
water daily... *embarassed face*

This was right before I went to England on exchange for six months and my hair was in dire condition. A hot mash up of kinky roots and permed ends.

My family didn't know what to do with me...

"Jhan...what are you going to do with your hair?"

"You cah go England looking suh." (Jamaican patois)

I am not going to lie. I struggled. I was too stubborn to listen to them due to my years of relaxing catastrophes (which I partly blamed them for). But I was also too stubborn to turn back. Basically everything that you can do wrong when transitioning: I did. I didn't comb out my tangles, I didn't moisturize, no deep conditioning, nothing. As a result, I noticed no progress in my hair growth. It just kept breaking.


In England, I wore my hair in one just like I had back home. I went out dancing a lot (salsa and ballroom). This lady on the salsa scene decided to make me over one the whole nine yards. And this is how Horse was born (name given by my cousin). I cried the night she first did it, because I wanted to be polite, but I hated it. I wore it though...[Boss face] because I didn't know what else to do with my hair.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against wigs, or people who wear wigs. I just didn't feel this look was particularly me. Side note: I was sooooooooooo uncomfortable that night!!


When I came back from England, I got into weaves. A friend suggested it and I was like ah why not. Wake up, shake it out, done. Low maintenance. That fit my routine perfectly.

Curly weaves were my thing!

My hair started to grow, like whoa. I would get all warm inside when my weaveologist would be like "Wow, your hair is tall." :D
I was a bad weave wearer. I would wear them for 2 months at a time. Maybe wash it once a month and I didn't moisturize.. *embarrassed face*

Beginning of a New Journey

I had no clue there was a natural hair community out there.

I didn't know what DC meant, or TWA, nor that the year I spent wearing weaves was referred to as as transition.

I was clueless. I didn't have any curly natural hair friends, so I didn't really have anyone to relate to. I thought I was on a solo mission.

It wasn't until I took out some cornrows on a wash day that I looked in the mirror and loved the texture and the volume the released braids gave me. After my wash, I decided to twist my hair and I undid it in the morning. BOOM. A big afro was born.

I felt like I had invented the wheel.

It wasn't until I met my friend Michele at work (she was a natural, check out her hair profile: here) and she told me my wheel was called a "twist-out". Damn. I could've been famous.

So I googled "Twist out". 

And so began my new natural hair journey. I began to fall in love with big afros and learned to appreciate my natural curl pattern.

I'd love to hear your stories! Are you an accidental natural too? How did you transition?



Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending and speak without offending.

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