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Monday, April 6, 2009


After my wedding, I had an idea to not put any chemicals in my hair anymore. While in Ghana, I had been pressured into over processing my hair with the lye until it was bone straight...grrr...Big mistake 'cos my hair started breaking after that! It was not falling out in clumps or anything of that sort. My hair was still quite healthy but after January of 2008 I stopped putting a perm in my hair! When I made the decision to go natural, I had not had any epiphany or mountain top experience to get in touch with my roots(no pun intended). I just wanted to do it.

In the summer, I opted for a shorter crop and chopped most of my hair off. By October, I had quite a bit of nappy growth(the word nappy does not offend me at all but I do realize it may be offensive to some people) so the day before my birthday, I cut off whatever straight hair that was left until I was almost bald! All this while, I was terrified! I had not had short nappy hair since the year 2000! Back in high school when I had nappy hair, it was really tight curls and not quite as nappy as I have it now. Back then my hair was mostly a 4A and very little 4B. Now however, after years of putting chemicals in, my texture is mostly 4B with the very back being slightly curlier than coily:)

I quite remember the first time I wore my hair in a twist out!I thought I would just die. I had no idea how dependent I had become on my hair and the length, texture or style of it. I didn't like feeling different. See, with my straight relaxed hair, it was easier to blend in. I didn't want anyone to think I was the poster child for the "Afrocentric movement"! No! I chose to go natural so why was I feeling this way. The day after, I went and put my hair in braids!

One time as I was reading, I wondered out loud why every other person in or race in this world seem to wear their hair the way they were born with except for people of African descent. I do understand that during the time of slavery, a countless number of evil was done against black women because of their hair.(That's an entry for another day) I do understand the reason why some do not ever want to be associated with "nappy" hair based on that history.

Growing up, I did not have any relaxer in my hair until I was in 5th or 6th grade. I remember my mama used to wear her hair in an afro for quite a while until she got a relaxer at some point. It doesn't bother me at all to see people with relaxed hair, by the way:)I just don't think anyone has the right to tell another person with natural hair to put a relaxer in just because they don't think nappy hair is acceptable.

Just this past weekend, I emailed a couple of my friends and my sisters some pictures of my hair journey and frankly, I received some really positive feedback. Not that any of the feedback would have changed my mind. My friend R. told me that wearing natural hairstyles at her workplace was a taboo! Really? I was so shocked that in Ghana, an African country, anyone would have the audacity to say you can not wear your hair the way God made it. I was furious but really what can I do about such a rule. I do not own the company!

For me, this experience has become almost spiritual! and I say that with much caution. I put a picture on facebook with my natural hairdo which I enjoyed for quite a few days. In my subconscious I am wondering if I played with it too much on purpose just so I could have an excuse to go and put braids in.(because they started coming undone after touching it like a millions times!)Anyways back to the spiritual experience. I was laying in bed and all of a sudden I could not sleep anymore 'cos I was freaking out again about the fact that I was not more accepting of my hair and how I looked with it. If God did not think it was good, why did he give me hair like that?

I felt like I was being ungrateful and this could apply to many aspects of our lives. For me, my hair journey has become an exercise of confidence in who God made me to be. It has become a journey of self acceptance and discovery. I am not there yet. I still struggle sometimes with how to treat my hair since I never really learned how to but I will get there eventually. I am watching what I put in this body given to me by my maker. I want to be a good steward without being obsessive about the creation.I do not want the focus or the praise...all I want to do is be a representation of His glory!


Esi W. Cleland said...

Aww, thanks for sharing. I think you look fabulous by the way. It takes a while to get used to looking like yourself with your own hair the way God made it, but it sounds like you're making good progress. I used to be very militant abt the whole natural hair thing. Once i saw the light, i wanted everyone to see it too and stop perming their hair but now i don't pay much attention to that. I just enjoy having my hair and let others decide what to do with theirs. I encourage people to go natural and try not to get into conversations about perms lest my biases make others feel uncomfortable. Enjoy the journey!

judith said...

wow! this is deep. you grow wiser and wiser everyday.i want to kiss you right now sis. I feel like following suit. U GO GIRL. have a wonderful experience being U.

Omo Oba said...

thats the most ridicolous thing ever for a Ghanaian company to say an employee cannot wear their hair natural!! lye lye lye- I am also wanting to grow my hair natural. hopefully, it will happen soon.

Tilly said...

Adwoa, do u remember what I wrote to u the other day? This blog encourages me alot and for a sec I thought of going natural - hmmmm, lets see what happens. Stay true to yourself and enjoy being U.
U still look pretty and HOT!

Ifeoma-Fobi said...

IMO, even though some Sistas deny it, every woman who goes through this natural journey will experience a spiritual awakening. In the process, I think you learn to love your true self from head to toe esp after the BC,as you slowly watch the hair grow. The hardest part is looking at & learning to accept yourself independent of all the 'fluff'. You also learn to wear your hair and not let the hair wear you. Girl, I feel you on all that you went through because I went through a very similar experience with adjusting to the new look. I remember the evening of my first BC was okay but the next day, which was a Monday, OMG I almost called off work because in the morning I was freaking out and feeling 'naked'. That's when I realised how much I had become attached to my hair.
Sweety, Congratulations on getting this far,all the best through the remainder of this experience,and you look beautiful! 3fata wo dodo! XOXOXO

Yram Yawa said...

Like Esi I was very militant about having natural hair. I don't know if I have seen the light yet cos I feel like anytime someone re-perms their hair (no I do not mean re-touch.. I am talking about people who go natural and then gave up)an angel loses his just kidding!!! If you need the twists to stay in longer (and you are not a big fan of the wax they normally use to hold it) try Aloe Vera gel. It works for me!!!

awuraamma said...

Missmaxy u've got me thinking... i hadn't noticed that black women are the only ones who change the texture of our hair. hmmm....maybe after my wedding???

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I like you went natural on a whim, without any inclination for permanency and without any desire to make a political statement or be "Afrocentric". Now, I have come to appreciate the beauty, that's all natural, not bogged by a westernized view of beauty. I very much empathize with the feelings you expressed, thanks for sharing. I must say though that black people aren't the only ones who are dissatisfied with the hair God gave them. Asians curl their straight hair, South-east asians and Latinos straighten their hair, even caucasians get perms. Bottom-line, when it comes looks, women have a universal dis-satisfaction with the lot that we've got. It's interesting, interesting indeed.

Maxine Mosley Totoe said...

@Esi, I am enjoying the journey. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.

@Judith my sister and number 1 fan no matter how I look(apart from Ba4 and daddy ofcourse), thanks for your wisdom and fashion sense!

@Omo, I don't understand why this is so in Ghana. I wonder what the rest of the coporate world in Ghana's take would be.Just in case u decide to go natural let me know if you need any tips

@Tilly, I'm glad I can be of encouragement to you. Thanks be to God!

@L-Boogie(Fobi) U rock ma nappy sister! You have been encouraging me through this. Thanks.

@Yram, u make me smile. Glad you are standing for what you believe in "Napturality"!

@Awuramma- glad u been reading ma blog. It's not just about the hair as I said. It's more about the identity and self acceptance too.Hugs

@ Anonymous It is true that a lot of women have issues with self image but u don't see any of them tryna put in a nappy wig!...hehehe... that would be interesting indeed! Thanks for reading and sharing too.

Efuwa said...

Max, congratulations on coming into your own. It's a very personal, very emotional experience and I hope it empowers you the way it still empowers me, even seven years after my big chop.

I've taken a new fork in the road and I'm hoping to keep encouraging other beautiful women along the way. Hope your journey is fulfilling.

Merrymary said...

Welcome to the club indeed lady!!!

youve inspired me to write about my own journey although I never thought it was much of one it just felt natural to be natural(get it get it) LOL

Anyway each to thier own but hopefully a massive awakening is coming soonxx

Anonymous said...

While I agree largely with your point of view, I don't agree that only people of African descent try to change their hair texture. I think the attitude of dissatisfaction is pervasive in all cultures (just more pronounced in America). I think the reason it's different for people of African descent is that we have been directly and bluntly told that our hair is not attractive. Others who think their hair lives up to whatever cultural standards obsess about other things like their skin, or lips, or body or whatever else. That is life.
However, I have the same feeling you do about my hair. I believe God when He said that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that includes my hair. I say to myself, if God gave me this hair then there IS a way to care for it and it IS beautiful, I know He doesn't love anyone more that He loves me. It's a simple concept but it takes time to really live like it is an absolute truth. I hope that it becomes a reality for everyone of us.

Anonymous said...

wow, I really enjoyed this post...inspired me to write an entry on the same topic, lol


Maxine Mosley Totoe said...

Thanks Christabelle and Anonymous!
@ Anonymous- Body Image sure has been an issue with many people forever but I think as long as you learn to appreciate yourself just as God made you, you're well on your way! Thanks for your insight!

Anonymous said...

This is a different anonymous. I think your post is great and addresses issues of contentment, self image, cultural standards. I honestly think to some extent that there's absolutely nothing wrong with putting chemicals in our hair to keep it a certain way so far as it doesn't become an obsession (moreover so far as the chemical you are using is healthy, safe and good).

If you can clarify a little bit what you mean by natural, that will be great. Because natural to me is not putting any chemical in your hair, not even petroleum jell like vaselin.

Keeping your hair "natural" is as equally beautiful as perming your hair, braiding it, or trying something new with it.What is unnatural about doing all these extra stuff, so far as you're taking good care of your hair and it's not an obsession. It makes us beautiful, it makes us look great.It pulls out the artistic nature in beauticians, their creativity, you name it.

It is unfortunate that sometimes businesses want their employees to present themselves in a certain way. With the Ghanaian company issue that is wrong.

And to respond to some of anonymous's comments, it's also unfortunate that we're all victims of cultural standards and values. I mean whether we like it or not, we will live with that for the rest of our lives. Back in the days of Paul, I think there was one society in which women were ask ed to cover their hair in public( so much for keeping the hair natural or perming it). Let's face it my friend, the whole world is moving toward a westernize view of things. It happens over every period of time. Back back in the days of Joseph, it was an Egyptian perspective of things that the whole world was running on. Then in the times of Daniel, it was the Babylonians, then the time of Jesus, it was the roman empire, shortly afterward, it was a Christian worldview, just a few centuries ago, it was the British and now it's America. So these things come and go, however regardless, we should stand for what is right and what is truthful.

I mean come to think of it, we set up our own cultural standards, pass it on to our kids, then they do likewise and so forth.

Okay, i'm going off on this topic. ALl i want to say is that some western views on beauty ain't that bad. Hollywood's views on beauty is the problem and unfortunately that has spread all over the world.. anyways ladies let's love ourselves and keep taking care of ourselves the way the LORD wants us to.

Maxine Mosley Totoe said...

Thanks for your insight anonymous number 3. I am not sure if I undertsood everything you were trying to get accross but I will try to :) My blog did not condemn permed hair so I hope you do realize that.

Your view of what you consider natural hair is interesting. I suppose you consider washing your hair to be processing it as well since water is made of molecular compounds tripping here but really,no one is condemning western views on hair.

My point was that by going natural(yes I said it again!...hehe :P) or "nappy" if I may, it has given me a new appreciation for how God made me. I'm glad you think both nappy and relaxed hair are pretty! It is sad that some do not agree.

Boakyewaa Glover said...

Hey Maxine, someone was just asking me yesterday why dont i grow my hair natural. Trust me, i've thought about it a lot. But its just not for me right now. Maybe much later i'll go that route. The natural route is awesome, its alot of work but its still a good thing. However, i think there is a teeny weeny assumption that when you do perms or have weaves you're trying to be like someone else. i dont agree. seriously. i'm not the afro-centric type, but it doesnt mean i want to be westernized either. I am pretty confident with myself but i still wanna have a perm, doesnt mean i dont wanna be african. its just easy for me, and its my preference. if doing perms and weaves is a western thing, and not right (like some people think) then lets not wear jeans, or t-shirts. Lets just walk about with nappy hair and cloth wrapped around our waists. lets not even have weddings and wear white dresses. There's a lot of western influence, no doubt. But everyone is guilty of indulging in a little western pleasure. its not just the hair, its everything. why watch western movies or eat western foods?
i've just come to realize we must all be happy and comfortable and not label too much. i like my perm and i also like being african. the two dont have to be a contradiction. if it is, then almost every single one of is a contradiction in one form or the other.

Maxine Mosley Totoe said...

Thanks Boakyewaa, I do agree with a lot of what you said. I think for each person, going natural becomes a different kind of spiritual experience. I do agree with you that it is a lot easier to deal with the perm than the naps(at least at this stage in my journey)

In reference to the "western pleasures", it is true that we all indulge in it to some extent. My only issue with hair is when people label some as good and some as bad. I have been told to watch the Tyra show episode which aired today 4/12/09... very interesting facts indeed. Apparently the hair and hair product industry will go bankrupt without black women!

I just wonder if we would be more comfortable with our hair as it is if our texture and hairstyles were the norm.

etoile Oye said...

I think the company's stance needs probing. I love people who rock their natural hair. But my sister, you must admit that unkempt hair has no place in building good corporate image. If you are natural and keep your hair neat and looking good, I don't see why a company will have problems with you. Maybe it's the naturalistas that keep their hair as untidy as a madman's pubic hair, pardon my french, who are causing this stigma with natural hair. I haven't had a perm in nearly 5 months but even I get pissed when I see some of these 'hairs' and I'm not talking styling, just basic good grooming. Our natural hair rocks! let's rock it!!!

Maxine said...

haha...madman's pubes! that's funny! lol... I get what you mean but can you imagine if curly or coily hair was the norm and striaght hair wasn't? Would unruly hai seem pretty acceptable then?