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Are you protective styling or hiding?

Tonight we are going to discuss a very sensitive subject, BLACK WOMEN'S HAIR. I've noticed that being natural is like the unspoken Black girl club vip pass, but not being natural does not completely kick you out of the club. In attempts to gain VIP access a lot of Black women claim to be natural, yet they hide behind their weave and label it as "protective hair styling". There are just a few things wrong with doing this. For one, you don't get to enjoy the fierceness of your short hair cut if you cover it with a wig 2 weeks after big chopping, you are not giving your hair a chance to breath, and you are actually confusing your mind into thinking you with your protective style is the best you.

The first time I went natural I made the mistake of hiding behind my weaves. I lied to myself and told myself I was helping my hair grow, all the while I was just hiding from the fact that I was not completely confident in rocking my TWA (teeny weenie afro). I would only keep up with my hair if it was in braids because it was easy to get to my scalp but besides that, if I had a weave I was burning my leave out just to blend with the weave, and my scalp was NOT being tended to. As a result, my hair grew, but not as long as it could have if I had of taken better care of my hair. Don't get me wrong, my hair was still growing because that is what natural hair does, but it was not FLOURISHING.

After a very rough break up I decided to be that girl who changed their look so I big chopped again. When I big chopped this time around it was just to be "fierce" and rock a tapered cut but when the time came to grow my hair back out, I told myself this time around I would do it RIGHT. If you notice, I rarely wear my hair straight anymore and that is because I told myself that there is really no reason to burn my hair just to achieve the "look". I went natural to be able to love my kinks and naps so why would I still continue to manipulate my strands and justify it as being "versatile"? The truth is when I wore long weave after long weave, I wasn't being versatile, I was hiding behind a weave. Think about it, you hear females say it all the time, ''don't worry, I'm about to do something to this head". Usually that means they are going to put some sort of style in their head whether it be a sew in, braids,wig, ect.

When I decided to grow my tapered hair cut back out I told myself that I would not begin protective styling until I reached the awkward stage and that I would confidently rock my TWA. I have done so to the best of my ability but sometimes dealing with these kinks is just NOT what you want to do and that is perfectly okay. As long as you are making sure that you are still taking care of your own natural hair, you're not hiding behind your weave, you are protective styling with a purpose. Before I would protective style to look presentable but now I protective style because I know that that is what grows my hair. When I keep my hands out of my hair and keep up with regular deep conditioning and moisturizing, I get a tremendous amount of growth. When I simply throw a weave on top of my kinks and take more care of the weave than I do my own natural hair, that's when breakage comes into play.

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with protective styling for months on end, just be sure that you are still tending to your hair. If you have a sew in, make sure to cleanse your scalp with apple cider vinegar or scalp cleaning equivalent. If you have braids in your hair DO NOT just tend to your edges with edge control and your braids with braid spray (that actually dries out your hair). Protective styling is supposed to HELP you grow your hair not slow down the process. If you are putting styles in your hair but not taking the time to deep condition weekly and tend to your scalp you are HIDING BEHIND THAT HAIR STYLE. You couldn't possibly really care about your own natural hair if you can deep condition your bundles to get the texture back right but leave your own hair unattended.

Remember, protective style with a PURPOSE. Do not leave any style in for more than a month, sew in included. With whatever style you choose, make sure you can tend to your scalp, otherwise, scrap the style. Deep conditioning is VITAL to a successful natural hair journey so if you cannot do this with your chosen style, that is not the style for you. If you want straight hair use a closure, and DON'T use lace fronts as a permanent solution to not wanting to blend your leave out. That glue and gots to be gel is not good for your edges with continued use. Here's a little life hack, Murray's Beeswax works amazing at straightening your leave out to blend with straight hair , you'll never need to flat iron your hair again and you can still get a seamless, realistic look if you are not into lace fronts and closures. Black women are the most versatile women on this planet and I encourage you all to continue to be creative, just always make YOUR hair your number one priority, don't spend time detangling your curly bundles if you can't detangle your own curly hair. See you next Tuesday !

I love you,

Imani Blaize


Charlotte, NC, USA