You may have heard about Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair, the book Essence Magazine calls “Your Natural Hair Bible” and that has gotten the internet buzzing. Thank God I’m Natural is without a doubt the most comprehensive resource on natural hair and has something for everyone whether you’re thinking about transitioning, already natural, or sporting locks. The book covers everything from the dangers of relaxers to product reviews, and even has over 50 homemade recipes for making your own hair care products at home. Best-selling author and Harvard graduate was kind enough to share a personal excerpt from the book, in which she describes the highs and lows of coming to grips with natural hair.
You can purchase copies of her book online at Amazon.com or at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore. For more information, visit her website at www.thankgodimnatural.com or her blog at http://thankgodimnatural.wordpress.com/.
Excerpt reprinted here with express permission from the author
It was Saturday night and my place was packed!!! As This Christmas played loudly in the background, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief — knowing that for once everything was going exactly according to plan. This year, I decided to make things easy on myself. Instead of doing all of the cooking as usual, I simply picked up a shrimp platter, a veggie tray, and a few desserts from Costco’s. All I had to do was take the teriyaki wings out of the oven. What could be simpler, right? Wrong!
No amount of preparation could have prepared me for what happened next. As I bent down and leaned my head towards the broiler, I could feel 475° of intense heat sweep across my face and over my forehead, instantly transforming my wig’s soft, flowing bangs into hard, melted plastic. It didn’t take long for the unmistakable stench of burnt hair to permeate throughout my apartment and overpower the smell of everything — even the sweet aroma of my Glade Christmas-Cookie plug-ins! There I stood, melted plastic bangs glued to my shiny, sweaty forehead — and my friends waiting in the very next room . . . still hungry.
Fortunately, not all was lost; I had a collection of thirty different wigs in my closet. Yes, I could look like Beyonce, Ashanti, or any girl in a rap video for a mere $24.99. But with that terrific flexibility and variety came a hefty price — paranoia. What if my wig was on crooked or if, heaven forbid, a mighty gust of Chicago wind came and carried my precious hairpiece right down Michigan Avenue? Even worse was wearing a wig while dating! Let me tell you, while I had mastered the art of keeping men’s hands out of “my hair”, it was a constant challenge (and emotionally quite stressful) to maintain my dirty little secret. Extensions are one thing to most men — but wearing a wig involved a whole new layer of deception that inevitably lead to the “Honey, there is something I have to tell you. This isn’t my hair…” conversation.
As I searched through my closet frantically looking for a suitable replacement — I sat down amidst the strewn clothes, shoes and hair pieces, and broke down in tears. Then, it hit me: I was happy wearing hair in every color, texture, and length – but not my own. Seeing my charred wig lying on the dresser that night forced me to come to grips with my kinky tresses. Like most black women, I had an unhealthy and sometimes negative perceptions of my hair. I knew I needed to let go and stop wearing a wig — but after two years of waking up every morning and putting one on, I couldn’t stand the sight of myself without my synthetic tresses.
You see, I had recently decided to go natural, and although my hair was quite long, my hair looked dry and dull — like week-old cotton candy, because I had kept it covered for so long. After getting a perm for twenty-plus years, I didn’t know the first thing about caring for my natural texture. I had no clue what products or styling tools to use or how to work with the tight, spongy curls sitting atop my head. Learning to do my hair was like teaching myself Swahili. I simply didn’t know where to begin. This episode forced me to come to the realization that me and my hair would be together until death do us part and was also the inspiration for my new book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair.
Although going natural was a long, difficult and sometimes, painful journey, it’s one that I will never regret. My natural journey, which has been fraught with many difficult moments, has taught me many lessons (including not to retrieve appetizers from an oven while wearing synthetic hair) — but most importantly, that we, as black woman, must learn to love our hair, embrace our unique differences and no longer be ashamed of who we truly are. Today, I love my hair now more than ever before and have just as many styling options, if not more (minus the paranoia) as when I was wearing a wig. While it has taken me close to twenty-five years to accept my kinky mane for what it is, I can now finally say, THANK GOD I’M NATURAL!
Best-selling author and Harvard graduate, Chris-Tia Donaldson’s personal story is inspiring legions of black women from Chicago, IL to Pretoria, South Africa to break free of wigs, weaves and relaxers, after she learned the hard way, that she had to love herself (and her hair) in order to be successful in corporate America.
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