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FEATURES Jan 3 2013 9:16AM

New Year. New Do. New Attitude

by Shaunequa Brathwaite, Temple of Glam.com

As you know, I vacillated (whined?) about transitioning quite a bit last year: "To Relax or Not To Relax", "Justify My Curl."

Well, a brand new year brings brand new hair (and possibly an updated attitude). I'm four months relaxer-free and even may have found a signature hair style!

Here's a month-by-month recap of my doozie of a journey:

Month 1: “The Relaxed & The Restless”
Since I cut my hair short last year, week 5 was typically when my back looked rough.  However after a good wet set, my hair was laid for the gods. Around weeks 6 & 7, that god-laid hair went straight to Hades after a treadmill run or the very mention of Bikram yoga. Week 8? Let's just say there were tears. Lots of tears…and a tired elastic headband.

Month 2: “The Relaxer Hangover”
Remember those tears I mentioned at week 8? Well, they were compounded by sheer lunacy around weeks 9 & 10. I was rocking the same tired headband or hat. As a result, threats of scheduled relaxer touch ups abounded. It was intense; I said to my ridiculously patient loved one, “I just don’t DO transitions. It’s either straight or kinky. Will you just cut it off?” Instead he gave me a hug. I was tamed (as was my hair later that week).  I used a protein treatment that calmed the crazy breakage I was experiencing.
Week 11 was enlightening. No, seriously. I realized I was making myself miserable (and feeling like a toad) because I resisted the fact that my hair just wouldn’t lay flat like it did with a relaxer. The goal of straightness was too troublesome with my rapidly growing-out length. So I stopped fighting my curl and instead worked with it.
Week 12 I found a hair style that made me feel like me again! I didn’t even carry a spare headband/hat “just in case”. You can see the style in the picture above. The woman next to me is my mom. Remember I told you about her in another piece? I have a cool announcement about her, but that happened during month 3.

Month 3: “The Curly Monster”
Week 13 was one of a bevy of hair compliments and an incredible revelation from my mom. After dealing with hair loss for some time, she proclaimed that she is ready to start anew: shave off her hair! I was psyched (whether it happens or not) because it represented her releasing g herself from the burden of follicular expectations. She’s decided to recreate herself in her own, beautifully liberating way. You rock, mom! Now back to me.
During week 14 I continued to fall deeply (madly?) in love with my curls/kinks. I bought tons of products (and as a beauty writer, I don’t typically do that!) hoping they’d make my hair soft. As gorgeous as my hair looked, it wasn’t touchable. I’m no heat snob so I sat under the dryer and (shhhh!) even touched up my curls with a curling iron around week 15. At that point, my curl definition went kaput so I had to pull out ol’ faithful: that tired headband (see Month 1).

Month 4: “The New Year, Baby!”
I still have quite a bit of relaxed hair, but the back is completely chemical free. My hair is still pretty short and it’s um winter, so the loathsome shrinkage challenge isn’t so obvious right now.  Frankly, I’m in no rush to experience that! I still notice myself warning people that I may not be finished with the creamy cr*ck. Read: if you see me with relaxed-straight hair, don’t come for me. That lye sounds better and better when my hair is feeling extra crunchy like it is today. 

For now, my kinks live to see another day. So yeah, when you see me on the street and my hair looks pretty (assuming it’s not a headband/hat day), you can look. You probably don’t want to touch…yet.

In honor of a brand new year (and new attitude)…Ms. Patti, yall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWfZ5SZZ4xE


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