When Self Care Isn't The Easiest Choice -- Erika Agard on Self Care and Going Natural
“In October of 2016, I decided to do the BIG CHOP! Yep, that’s right, I decided to cut off all of my relaxed hair and go natural. Prior to October, I had been going through some real hair-struggles. My hair was breaking off, my edges were receding, and my hair was falling out in small chunks. My hairdresser suggested that I should go natural. At first I was like oh hell no, I’m not about that life. I had been getting relaxers my entire life. I grew up on Just For Me, and I couldn’t imagine my hair being any other way.
However, after trying multiple products, taking a variety of hair growth vitamins, and seeking professional help from a dermatologist, I decide to do the big chop so I could learn how to take care of my hair. I went to the salon, and cut off the majority of my hair. When I looked in the mirror for the first time, the Erika that reflected back at me actually made me uncomfortable.
Although, I had come to terms with chopping my hair off, I realized in that moment that I hadn’t thought about how I was going to style my hair now that I was (1) natural, and (2) damn near bald headed. I tried wearing micro braids to create a more familiar look, but the micro braids ended up being too heavy for my hair, and actually pulled out some of the follicles.
“When I looked in the mirror for the first time, the Erika that reflected back at me actually made me uncomfortable.”
Next, I tried wigs. The wigs were a good choice until summer. Lord jesus, a wig on your head in the summer in Boston is cruel and unusual punishment. I think I almost had a heat stroke thrice. I just felt like nothing was working for me, AND my hair wasn’t improving at all. Cutting off my relaxed hair made me very uncomfortable, but wearing micro braids and wigs wasn’t allowing my hair to get any healthier. I was at a loss and feeling down. My confidence was at a low. My desire to be social was gone. And, my bubbly nature had wilted. So, I went back to what I knew... the CREAMY CRACK!
It wasn’t until February of 2018 that I decided to try going natural again, but this time I tried a different approach. I said no big chop. I choose to slowly trim away the relaxed hair. But, the most important thing I did this time around was have a plan for how I would wear my hair as I transitioned from relaxed hair to natural hair. I know that I’m just not the type to wear a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro). So, I opted to get crochet braids while I transitioned, and it was the best decision I made. I am now approaching a year of being relaxer free, and all of my relaxed hair has been trimmed away. I have a head full of healthy hair that is chemical free, and while I didn’t want to go on this hair journey initially I’m thankful that I’ve finally learned how to take care of my hair.
“Know that going natural is a journey that should be done when you feel fully ready.”
For anyone going natural, especially those coming from relaxers, just know that you’re not alone in feeling uncomfortable, or even going back to the creamy crack. Know that going natural is a journey that should be done when you feel fully ready. This journey taught me a different side to self care. Most people see self care as being fun or glamorous, but this journey showed me that self care is also about doing what’s necessary to be the healthiest version of yourself.”
Erika is an elementary school teacher by day, and plus size fashion blogger by night. She also manages content for the Yes Queen FB page. To keep up with her natural hair/fashion journey, check out her Instagram, @esa_armaine.