“I wasn't ready psychologically for a TWA (Teeny-Weeny-Afro)” she confesses, “I felt self-conscious and dreaded going into work.”
Anxiety about what colleagues
might say is a common reaction after transition, with some women worried about corporate disapproval or peer- group rejection.
“I just wasn't ready” she says, “so I had it braided. I didn't realise then that you need to be confident and prepared for a TWA, all the time you're just concentrating on the mechanics, like transitioning and what products to use.” Focusing on the 'mechanics' of going natural can delay the mental adjustment of having a new body image. For some, learning to love this new image is a 'second transition' they are ill-prepared for.
“Initially there is a disconnect because that person in the mirror ... you don't know that person,”
“No-one tells you how you're going to feel 2 or 3 weeks afterwards, that is the vulnerable period because the change you’ve made is permanent.”
Turning inward to find one's inner strength can also be the key to finding confidence and lasting pride in one's new appearance.
“Three months after my 'big chop' I took the braids out and went out with my son.” says Arlene. “I was expecting negative comments because, in my head, I still didn't think my hair looked nice.” However she found herself pleasantly surprised, “No-one cared! So I put a picture of myself on ‘Facebook’ to show my new hair and I got such positive responses, I was really encouraged.”
As more women grow accustomed to being natural they also find that the transition to afro hair is an on-going challenge. A common thread among ‘naturalistas’
is having to uncover
their inner confidence in the face of negative critism; coming both from within themselves and from others.
“When your hair shrinks, breaks or isn't playing ball you really do have to ‘exhale’ and wait for tomorrow” says Leona sagely. “Your family and friends have a constant expectation of seeing
the 'old you' again, the relaxed you.” However, any temptation to return to chemical processing or weaves is instead replaced by a steely resolve. “I think the more you find yourself under attack, the more protective you become (over your hair)” says Leona. “Going back is not an option.”
With more natural haircare product coming onto the market made by women of colour, who have faced similar issues, styling and maintenance has never been easier.
“Now I love my hair,” says Arlene, “I walk past that same hairdresser who messed up my 'big chop' and feel so good about myself.”
Although the feel-good-factor may not happen overnight, establishing a new identity is a journey worth the exploration and for some, like Arlene, it's a path of no return.
“I've realised that you should be confident in your own self to rock whatever is on your head. Stick to your guns and don't listen to anyone else.”
copyright © 2011 nexrastore www.nexrastore.com
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