“I saw one of my friends who had natural hair and I thought that it was so pretty. I asked her how she got her hair like that and of course she told me all of the products that she used. I ended up buying the same products and used them in my hair, but it didn’t work because I had a relaxer. I was like ‘why isn’t my hair doing it?!’ Of course, my friend asked if I had a relaxer. That’s when she told me that she had natural hair.
I’ve been natural for two years and I really like it. My friends and family think that it fits my style and personality more so than my relaxed hair. I love the versatility too, but I mainly do puffs. Everyone seems to like the puff. Overall, the response that I’ve received has been positive.”
“I’ve been natural for ten years. I was motivated to go natural because I got a bad perm and when I went to college everyone was natural. Honestly, it was something that I didn’t know was a possibility but I tried it out and stuck with it. I was spending so much money trying to keep my hair straightened that wearing it natural was the most efficient way. I don’t miss waiting in the hair salon. Even when I do go to the salon, I don’t go on a Saturday because I realized that I could not continue to give my life over to a random salon where I’m not paying bills.
I work for a member of Congress who has sister-locks, so I knew that I wouldn’t receive push back for wearing my hair natural in the workplace. Prior to working for the congresswoman, I had internships in corporate environments and if someone said anything about my hair they never said it to my face. I went to college in Philly, so I saw a lot of judges with Afros and dreadlocks. The precedent was a little higher there compared to where I’m originally from down south. A lot of family members still don’t really get it, so you just have to be comfortable with yourself.”
“My mom is Egyptian and my father is Sudanese. I’m really grateful that my mom never relaxed my hair or made me feel like I shouldn’t love my hair. It’s straightened now, but my hair is really curly and I do love it. I think that I’ve learned to see the beauty in wearing both curly and straight styles. It’s crucial to understand that wearing your hair straight shouldn’t make you feel more or less confident. Overall, I’ve started to love myself more and I think living in a community where there are a lot of girls who are natural has been a positive influence because when I was younger a lot of my friends were white which influenced how I viewed myself as I got older. At the time, I clearly knew that I was different when it came to my hair and skin tone. It’s heartbreaking because I have relatives who bleach their skin and you see that they are more confident now because their skin is lighter. Now I have a lot of close friends who embrace being natural and that has had a positive influence on me to point where I am able to love myself and accept the fact that I’m unique. I shouldn’t see myself as less than someone else because I don’t fit this cookie cutter standard of beauty that doesn’t accept people who look like me.
I’ve started to wear my hair curly more often. I even do cornrows now. I’m forcing myself to learn more about my hair. During the summer, it was a huge shift for me because previously I wouldn’t have taken the time to twist or wrap my hair before going to sleep. I want to learn more about my hair and how I can take care of it instead of making myself look like something that I’m not. It’s crazy to me that colonialism has ingrained these crazy ideas into black people’s minds to the point where we’re turning into our worst enemy. This whole ‘light skin versus dark skin’ and ‘curly versus kinky’ stems from colonialism. To have someone from my own race say that I’m too dark is more disheartening to me than getting a racist comment from a white person.”
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Chandra Hampton is a ball of inspirational energy! A friend recently introduced us during the Athleta Presents: Style Evolution Fall Fashion Show. Chandra is Zumba Fitness instructor who currently serves as a brand ambassador for Athleta and is the founder of Champion Lifestyle Fitness. This year she was awarded Best Dance Class 2017 by the Washington City Paper. Her story is truly inspirational and I thank her for taking out time to chat...
“I started with a low cut, so I’ve probably been natural for about eight years. I had a caesar haircut and grew it out because I wanted a really big fro’, so I’m trying to get there. Being natural makes you become really comfortable with yourself, especially if you’re going to wear your hair out in a kinkier style, twisted out or just your natural texture. You have to be comfortable with it because some people are going to stare. They’re going to ask you if you’re going to comb your hair. You have to be prepared to go into places and just have people look at you.
Hair isn’t a big deal to me, but I know that it’s a big deal to a lot of people. I know that people have different levels of comfort in regards to just letting their hair be without always manipulating it or attempting to do something to it. Being natural teaches me to be a little more relaxed.”
“I transitioned when I was in ninth grade, so I was a little bit ahead of the curve. At that time, not a lot of people were letting their big curly hair go, so it was kind of a struggle going through school. It was definitely worth it in the long run, however.
Wanting to not put chemicals in my hair or use harsh things that are not good for me, all started with the transition to natural. The transition also impacted my skincare routine when I decided to use all natural products. I really pay attention to all of the ingredients in the food that I eat ensuring that I focus on food that’s more natural and clean, so it really has became a lifestyle for me.”
“I’ve been perm free for five and a half years. I have to say that I love how my hair has helped me love myself so much more deeply and accept the fullness of Z in a more beautiful way. I don’t know what I was thinking when I stopped perming my hair, but for some reason I thought that natural hair would be quicker. It’s not, but I’ve found the patience and time that I need to put into caring for my hair makes me be more present with myself. I love the versatility and the fact that my hair can’t be tamed. One fun thing about being a black girl is all of the different styles that we can do with our hair, but at the end of the day you can try to replicate a hairstyle and your hair will do something very different. You can do a twist out the exact same way with the same products and have a different result, so for me this has been a beautiful way to not be controlling. As black women, a lot of times we do try to control stuff because we have so much pressure on us and we don’t have much margin for error. At times, people can be very critical of us, so it means everything to have this area in my life where I know it’s going to be different but I enjoy the variations anyway. I jokingly talk to my hair sometimes and say ‘I kind of wanted you to do this, but you want to do that so we’re going to rock with this girlfriend.”
Since moving back to DC, the sisterhood that I’ve experienced with natural hair has been so loving and beautiful. The way women on the street talk to each other and complement each others’ hair is beautiful. Even brothers. Just before I got to the tea shop today this brother said, ‘sister I love the color of your hair’ and he wasn’t trying to get my number. Well, he probably was trying to get my number but he wasn’t disrespectful at all.”
Sending strength, love and healing energy to the sister of this beautiful lady. Thank you for sharing your story.
“I cut my hair two weeks ago and it’s growing back already. My sister is battling Stage IV lung cancer, so she lost all of her hair due to the radiation treatments on her brain. She’s only 27 and we’re both natural hair enthusiasts, so losing all of her hair was really hard. Essentially, some of her identity was lost because she’s really into beauty and fashion. She’s a makeup artist, so I could tell that her soul wasn’t fully ready for the change although hair loss is a side effect of the radiation. Losing her hair made the sickness real which made her feel sick. She’s been going through a lot this year, so I shaved my hair too.
My hair was bright pink prior to shaving it. One day my sister said, ‘you should dye your hair pink’ and I was like ‘okay, whatever makes you happy’ so we both had pink hair. After a while, the radiation treatments made her hair bone straight which was an adjustment because she always had really curly, thick full hair. It’s been a hair journey since she was diagnosed in December, so that’s why I shaved it all off. I surprised her and went to Richmond, VA where she lives. I went down there to shave what was left of her hair and then we took pictures together.”
“The first time I did the big chop was nearly five years ago. I just cut my hair for the second time because I wanted something exciting and new. I’ve dyed my hair so many times that I just wanted to stop and do it all over again. It’s a lot easier for me to deal with short hair because I can pick up and go.
When I started wearing my hair natural, I wore an afro and it was a little intimidating because people didn’t know how to address me. It kind of showed me the barriers and boundaries for certain jobs, especially when I started going through the interview process. People looked at me a bit different than they would if I had straightened my hair. It threw me off a little, but after a while I kind of learned to assert myself. I learned to be empowered and realized that if they can’t understand who I am and appreciate my personality then it’s just not worth it. Growing into it has been nice. I’ve found myself being sassier and way more confident.”