Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Reflections after a Natural Year

It’s been just over a year since I’ve said sayonara to my relaxer and “embraced” my hair in its natural state. I’ve gotten many compliments about my hair, and some days I walk out the house feeling fierce because my hair is behaving, but there are some things I’ve had to learn, some tough pills I’ve had to swallow, and some truths I’ve had to accept. If you are the least bit interested in my personal revelations read on, but remember, my reality may not be yours.

  1. YouTube is both a blessing and a curse.

    Yep, Radio Raheem had it right. I have a love/hate relationship with YouTube. (from

    After spending 80 dollars getting my daughters’ hair braided, I decided that I need to learn how to do their hair myself. I was not going to spend another dime on their hair if my hair was in a perpetual ponytail. In “researching” on YouTube, I found tons of natural hair videos, and my secret desire started to boil over until I chopped all of my relaxed hair off and started this journey. While YouTube has given me a lot of ideas, taught me a lot of techniques (I can now braid my girls hair into a variety of lasting styles), and explained more than I ever really needed to know about hair typing, it has also forced me to question the beauty of my own hair and aspire to hair glory that my texture will never achieve. Now, I regulate my YouTube watching to style tips, and I’ve learned to appreciate my own crowning glory.

  2. Going natural is not easier.

    Just rock that ‘fro! (from

    Many a day, I’ve wished for the simplicity of a relaxer. I may have had sores in my head from chemical burns, but darn it, I could wear a ponytail or a bun and look appropriate for work. Sometimes my satin bonnet (yes, you need this if you are going natural) would fall off at night, and when I looked in the mirror after my early morning pee, I would scare the bejesus out of myself. And don’t oversleep when the bonnet comes off! You’ll have to go through a whole wet, moisturize, and pin salvage plan just to feel human enough to walk out of the house. With my relaxer, that scarf could come off, and I could do a quick comb through and head shake and be out of the door. For me, going natural is simply better for my hair and scalp and generally jives with the healthier lifestyle I’m trying to lead.

  3. Everyone won’t be on board with your new look, even if they initially were favorable.

    Lookin’ good? If she’s digging it, why can’t we? (from

    I’ve been called every thing from nappy headed to “different” (which I’ve figured out is code for ugly as hell), and I’ll admit that it hurt. No one wakes up trying to visually offend anyone, especially not people you love or are forced to spend time with, but it’s going to happen. I can remember looking at pictures with someone who said, “See how pretty you were then?” I didn’t take the high road. I said, “See how thin you were then?” Maybe next time, I’ll remember that I’m supposed to let crap like that go. I made a hair decision for myself, and as long as I’m okay with it, nothing else should matter.

  4. Some people may incorrectly assume that you are a natural hair expert or b!tch.

    School Daze “Good and Bad Hair” Musical Scene (from

    I cut this stuff off a year ago, not 20 years ago, and I’m an English teacher by trade, not a stylist. All I know is confined to the videos I’ve watched in their entirety on YouTube (which are very few because some of those women are long-winded) and the trial and error results atop my head and my girls’ heads. For expert advice, please speak to one. Otherwise, you’re just getting a lot of fluff from someone who happened to get lucky that morning. Also, if you are at all familiar with natural hair sites, you may have seen some of the more negative relaxed-hair-sista bashing on the web. How utterly ridiculous! My hairstyle is a personal choice, and so, too, is theirs. We can still be friends! Sometimes after reading these sites I feel like I’m in a flashback from School Daze at Madame Re-Re’s Beauty Salon [click here for the clip of this musical number], singing about wannabee’s and jiggaboo’s, good and bad hair. Are we really still having this fight in black America? If we are, please remember that I’m that same girl who would run in the opposite direction of the fight in high school, fleeing to the safety of my English teacher’s classroom, because nothing, I  mean nothing, was worth me getting a stray punch to the face. I’m not in it!

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4 thoughts on “Reflections after a Natural Year

  1. Okay, I fell out at:

    I can remember looking at pictures with someone who said, “See how pretty you were then?” I didn’t take the high road. I said, “See how thin you were then?”

    Bwahahahaha … that sure doesn’t sound like someone looking to avoid a fight! LOL!! Great post:)!!

  2. Alice on said:

    What a great day this was! When I told you that you looked fabulous, you assumed I meant your weight! Well, that too looked pretty darn fabulous, but I was really talking about your hair!

    • Alice, you have no idea how much I love you! You are always so encouraging and real. I miss our talks every day more than you know. The girls and I enjoyed our day with you as well. They’ve been stickering everyone and everything! Can’t wait to do it again sometime soon. As far as the hair: yeah, today it was fabulous. My frienemy, YouTube, is to blame; I’m not that creative!

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