ValeriYah Yisra’el’s Hair Journey
The ‘Natural World’
Sophomore year of college walking out of physics class with my friend- one of the only other blacks in the entire lecture hall of about 200 students (if memory serves there were about 5 of us in the class)- we headed toward our respective classes. Since winter break was drawing near we each shared what we wanted to do during the break. In the midst of the conversation my friend asked me, “Have you heard of this youtuber called Kimmaytube”? I looked at her as if she was speaking another language and stated, “who is that”? She went on to explain that Kimmay tube was a black woman who had gone natural and was growing her hair to tail bone length. Naturally (no pun intended) I asked the usual question is she mixed, trying to see if there was some major difference between her and I which would explain her ability to grow her hair to her tailbone. Seeing that we were about to go our separate ways to our other classes my friend told me that her hair was like ours and urged me to look more into this Kimmaytube lady. Once home, I quickly pulled out my laptop, got on youtube and was exposed to the ‘Natural world’. It was love at first sight; I did not realize that YaHuWaH made our hair so complex and intricate. I quickly went through many of Kimmaytube’s videos and discovered other black women one youtube such as Natural 85, My Natural Sistas, Girls love your Curls, and Green Beauty channel… just to name a few. I was inspired to go natural knowing that this would be a great opportunity to reach two goals; one- a healthier me and two- longer hair! Since finals were fast approaching I had decided that during winter break, after I take my braids (which I had in at the time) out I would go natural and try to do single strand twists. Although I thought this was a fool proof plan Abba YaHuWaH had something else in mind.
Don’t panic, just flat twist it!
Finals were finally over for the fall semester and it was time to make the trip back home. On the day before I was to head back home I began taking down my braids. Any black women – or anyone who are see/ experience taking down braids- knows that taking down braids is a good half a day process. Not only do you take your hair down- being sure to only cut off the extensions and not your own hair- but you also detangle it and wash it. By the time I got done with this the sun was long gone and bedtime was fast approaching. Thinking back one this I still cannot completely remember the details. All I know for certain is that I was prompted to look at my email before turning down for the evening and when I did, a strange email stared back at me. That evening (a few hours prior to when I saw said email) a campus employer had emailed me to request an interview with me the next day right before I was scheduled to leave for home. Mind you, I had just… JUST taken my hair out in braids and did not know anything in regards to styling my natural hair at the time. I had only watched youtube videos of how folks would twist, flat twist, three strand twist, corn roll, African thread, their hair… nothing on ‘professional styles’. All I knew how to do was braids … and even that left much to be desired. Frantically, I combed through the archives of natural hair videos I had watch weeks prior looking for a hairstyle suitable for an interview. I was lead back to a video done my Kimmay tube where she did a flat twist out using her ‘kimmay method’. As I watched this video I was skeptical if my hair would actually curl without heat, furthermore I did not have any of the products which were needed for the style. I do not remember when I prayed, but I am sure I prayed to get through this… I did not want to show up to an interview looking a ‘hot mess’. I asked a roommate of mine if she would be willing to go with me in search of the hair products I needed. We went to a few places and were not able to find anything, no aloe vera gel, no shea butter, nothing! My roommate made a comment which I still remember to this day, “looking for black hair care products is like looking for Vietnamese cooking ingredients’. She is Vietnamese and would usually have the hardest time finding items specific for Vietnamese home-cooking, during this experience… I could definitely see where she was coming from. By the time we were able to get the items needed and were back inside our apartment, the time was around 9-10pm and I had a 8-9am interview the next morning. I stayed up into the night flat twisting my hair, making sure I put plenty of gel and using small sections for the flat twisting process. All praise to YaHuWaH when that flat twist out was taken down for the interview it turned out better than I expected, it even held up in the rain (it began to rain as I walked to the bus which would take me back home)! I have been natural for two and a-half years and that twist out is still one of the best twist-outs ever! I ended up not getting the campus job, however I feel that this was from YaHuWaH because I might have dragged my feet a little longer than He would have liked. Instead of pushing it off, YaHuWaH put me in a situation where there were only two options; sink or swim, thrive or die, pursue nappyness or just comply.
Pray and Go Natural: Learning to love what YaHuWaH gave me
It has been two and a half years since that day, and Abba YaHuWaH has shown me so much about my hair; how to take care of it, how it protects the body, how versatile it is, and most importantly how to love its uniqueness. The last one -in particular- is still a work in progress. When you first go natural, it is easy to love all of the different twist outs and long hair styles however I personally struggled loving –what I call- my ‘poofyness’. My hair is very thick (meaning there are many hair follicles on my head… or at least this is what I perceive) and I never thought my hair looked good in afro styles. After the first few months of wearing protective styles- in order to introduce myself to my hair- the next phase was to learn to love ‘the poofyness’. I forced myself to wear an afro with twist bangs… and I must say I liked how it turned out. Being conditioned for years to like and want thin flat hair has caused many black women (including myself) to be brainwashed. This brainwashing tells us that the move volume your hair has the ‘messier’ it is. There is indeed an ‘acceptable’ amount of volume however this is almost always paired with straight hair. Since I, and many other black women, have a lot of volume ‘poofyness’ and a lot of curls ‘nappyness’ it is unrealistic for me- or any black women- to comply with this notion of beauty which goes completely against what The Most High YaHuWaH has given us. That being said an un-brainwashing process must occur in our minds so that we might embrace what we were given. Prayer is the major form of attack, through prayer The Most High will show you what areas need to be un-brainwashed and will give you a plan of attack in order to free your mind. For me the two main areas which needed to be un- brainwashed were my ideas on poofyness and thought on nappyness. This second stage is still in the works and is being tackled via wash-and-goes. I personally wear my hair in protective styles 90 percent of the time however lately when I do wear it out I must quickly wash my hair and head to work or school. I praise YaHuWaH for causing me to do this… most of the time it just works out that way and a conscious effect is no longer needed. Due to this I am becoming much more comfortable with the hair YaHuWaH has given me. I still want long hair, however now I actually prefer my hair to be long in its poofy, nappy, and natural state. I praise The Most High for causing me to go natural and introducing me to a way of life that is less dependent on the systems around me and more depended on YaHuWaH, The One who made me. If you are considering going natural, I would recommend that you pray to The Most High, The Creator of all and let Him lead you in regards to what you should do.