Try it out

Last weekend, I went rock climbing with a friend at an indoor gym dedicated to it. I didn’t know the first thing about rock climbing but one thing I’ve learned in life is to not knock anything until you try it as you may discover that you are able to do something that you never dreamed you could do. For instance, until a few years ago, I never thought I’d be brave enough to do karaoke in front of a room full of strangers as I felt I was too shy and meek to do something so bold. Now, I have no problems doing it at all. The thing with karaoke is, it’s mainly done in bars and many of the people who get up to sing and/or watch the performers are buzzed or outright intoxicated. Since your inhibitions are lowered, nobody really cares how bad you sound and some people don’t really pay too much attention to you.  Anyhoo, after around 90 minutes of rock climbing, I found that I didn’t particularly care for it. I don’t have the arm strength to climb all the way to the top of the rock wall, even though I do weight training at the gym around twice a week. Also, you’re not climbing on an even surface, as the rocks are all different lengths and sizes. Some are a small as pebbles. I never knew where to place my feet and coupled with my relative lack of arm strength, I wouldn’t get very far. So, it was a fail. At least I can say I tried.

To relate this to hair, a lot of people can be inflexible and fear stepping out of their comfort zone of the relaxer or whatever straightening method they use, often for fear that the devil they don’t know is worse than the devil they do know. For them, hair loss, chemical burns and breathing issues are a price they’re willing to pay in order to fit the accepted standard of beauty by having straight hair. I’ve had people tell me that while my hair looked nice, they couldn’t have natural hair themselves because “it’s too nappy.” This perpetuates the “good hair/bad hair” mentality that a number of us in the black community still cling to. The only “bad” hair that we should discourage is unhealthy hair, not hair that resembles cotton candy or has a tight curl pattern. It actually wasn’t too long ago that I thought the same thing. I had to reach the point where I felt the chemical burns and hair loss were no longer worth it for me to fit in before I was willing to give natural hair a try. And it’s paid dividends for me in healthier hair and increased confidence. Unfortunately, unless the beauty standard changes, people like me may continue to be in the minority. The stigma against natural hair has a long social and political history so it’s not going to go away any time soon. But it’s amazing how easily people can knock natural hair when they themselves know nothing about it since they may have been permed since the age of 5 and have no memory of what their real texture is like. They merely parrot what their friends and family say, without analyzing what it really means to have natural hair. So if you’re merely thinking about transitioning to natural hair, just dive right on in. You might discover new things yourself. After all, you can’t knock something you have little experience with until you’ve tried it.

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