Reader Submission: What I Learned When I Embraced My Natural Hair

Contributing writer Tiffany Ezuma submitted this post as a Reader Submission for Gurl. We love hearing your stories! If you’d like to submit your writing to Gurl, please send us an email at

Your teens and your twenties are your best years for experimenting and playing with your personal style, which can mean anything from your clothes to your makeup to your hairstyle. I’ve been through a few different personal style changes, but one stands out the most: when I embraced my natural hair.

In high school, I was always fairly conservative with my clothing – jeans, cardigans and a t-shirt were my go-to style. By the time I reached my freshman year of college, I began to play around more with my clothing style. I kept the trusty jeans, but instead of boring denim, they became colored. I continued to wear cardigans, but now they included studs. My accessories began to match my rock-inspired style and I chose bright red glasses for my everyday look.

But one element of style I never changed was my hair. I had always worn my hair either relaxed, permed or chemically straightened – never natural. I’ve always had chin-length hair, worn straight and usually put up in a bun. Growing up, I was never the kind of girl who loved doing her hair and I was too afraid to cut it or do anything very drastic. Like a lot of black girls with relaxed hair, mine was always rebelling against the constant heat I applied to keep it straight. Moisture absolutely killed it and constant straightening with a flat iron was too harsh. My hair always looked nappy at the roots, making my overall hairdo look like I didn’t even care (which, trust me, I did).

In college, I began to notice a lot of black girls who were sporting natural hairdos. Their hair was all different lengths and I saw tons of ways to style it – but no matter what they did, the curly, thick texture was beautiful across the board. The more I saw girls who embraced their natural looks, the more I wanted to as well.

I love my hair and that's all that matters! | Source: ShutterStock

I love my hair and that’s all that matters! | Source: ShutterStock

One problem stood in my way: I was scared. Terrified, in fact. I had spent a lot of time reading up on the transitioning process, which includes growing your hair out and cutting the ends off bit by bit until you’re ready for the BIG CHOP… AKA cutting off all the relaxed ends at once. Some girls don’t transition at all and go right for the big chop instead. I wasn’t quite ready for that, so my sophomore year of college, I tried to transition, slowly growing inch-by-inch. Pretty soon, my family began to comment on how bad my hair looked. They didn’t think that I was ready for natural hair, given my lack of interest in my hair in general. After about a month of their comments and my self-doubt, I stopped transitioning and straightened my new growth.

Unfortunately, I almost immediately regretted that. Truthfully, I wanted to give natural hair a shot! I had never seen what my natural hair looked like and I really wasn’t in love with my relaxed hair. By senior year, I decided to try transitioning again. It was not for me – I hated the two textures and wore ponytails as my only style. By the summer, I decided that I was ready for the big chop.

I went into the salon and let the stylist chop, chop, chop away. Initially, I didn’t want to like my baby Afro because I was so scared of what others would say – that it wasn’t professional, that it looked nappy or that it was a ’70s throwback. By the time I left the salon, I was braced for criticism.

But that’s the exact opposite of what I got! My friends were quick to tell me that they loved my new natural ‘do, as were my co-workers. I was more concerned with my family’s approval, though, since they were more conservative. To my surprise, the only thing my parents commented on was how thick my hair was. They even said they were glad I was happy with it. It wasn’t exactly a gushing, “I love it!” but I could tell they meant what they said.

By the time I had the approval of everyone around me, I had already realized that it didn’t really matter and I didn’t need it. I had done what I wanted to do, I had achieved the look that I wanted. I was proud of myself and it didn’t matter if anyone else wasn’t in love with it. All that mattered to me was that I liked it.

Cutting your hair may seem like a small thing to some, but it was a big fear for me because I was so scared of what others would say and think. Somehow, I managed to move past that fear of others not accepting my choices to pursue what I wanted. I know going natural isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad I gave myself the opportunity to experience it for myself. In the end, embracing my natural hair was about more than just trying a new look – it was about me accepting myself for who I am.

Have you ever gone natural with your hair? What was it like? Can you relate to Tiffany’s story? Have you ever done anything super different to your own hair? Tell us in the comments!


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  • goldengirl

    Hey girls , just wanted to say that I’m proud of all of the bright young women that are transitioning. I had hair half way down my chest and that was only b/c of my native & African american genes. After 8 months of transitioning my mother cut my hair. I loved it. Try twist outs even if ur hair is short and stash up on
    accessories if ur hair is thick like mine try wider bands and long earrings. Know your loc method( leave in, oil ,cream) to moisturize and seal hair . find something u love about your self every day u r special. Don’t concern or surround ur self with ignorance u CAN be apart of the curly girl revolution world wide for your health and beauty. Try natural85 , mohogany curls , shameless Maya , sunkiss alba , taren guy , and Andreas choice for short to long natural hair on YouTube. You can do it !!! Get off the creamy crack rember whatever u believe you become .

  • Ola

    I always had thick hair even after i relaxed it but it barely touched my shoulder. So at the ending of August without even realizing it i transitioned for like 1 month. It wasn’t much but my undergrowth was stronger. So one day i had a doctors appointment and i convinced my mom to chop it off. Oh God. She put it in a pony tale and literally chopped right above the rubber band. So i wore my natural hair out with it being nappy but i had flowers and stuff. It was the struggle but little by little it grew. My hair is 4c so i tried to do wash and grows but shrinkage deprived me. Anyway a year later my hair is at the same stage just natural. It is even longer. For anyone who is like me and doesn’t really have curly hair more like kinky hair embrace it. Also put it into twist and wear your fro out. Just keep it in protective styles and keep it moisturized using the L-O-C method. And for any naturals who are bored look for natural hair websites like curly nikki and you will be stacked up with info you didn’t know existed

  • Angelica

    A year ago I was so sick of my damaged hair amd made the big chop. I instantly regretted it and wanted my hair back so bad. But obviously it was too late. Once i found the right products I began to love it. I spent a year growing out my curly fro. Finally today I decided to go get my hair flat iron and the damaged hair that had just a year ago been 1″ long is now a little below my shoulder blades and thick and healthy. Goin natural was the best decision ever.

  • rene

    I went natural at the beginning of this year. My mom had never let me get my hair relaxed, I’d just worn it flat ironed every day, but I’m so glad. It’s a part of my personality now. 🙂

  • Jordyn Beckford

    I recently went natural ( June of this year) , and so far it’s pretty good. My hair wasn’t very healthy and really damaged from all of the chemicals I have put in it through the years. I started my “Going Natural Phase” with the BIG CHOP. I was happy to get a fresh start with my hair and everyone around me said I look good with short and natural hair. Now, if anyone is deciding to go natural make sure you know that it can be a lot of work depending on how you want your hair. Also, there will be days when you ABSOLUTELY HATE having natural hair, but then you realize the reason(s) for you transitioning, you will LOVE it again. It also helps if you have a friend or two who are also natural, so you can all complain and get new tips together.

  • AC

    I had been transitioning for a while until 2 weeks ago. You see, I was sick of the transitioning phase. My hair was breaking, I always wore buns, and I was miserable. I decided to go back to braiding my hair. Which proved wonders for it. The natural part started coming in so fast!!! One day, I decided you know what? I think I have enough hair now to just BC (Big Chop). I wasn’t left with a TWA mind you, but just enough to still be considered extremely short. I like it a lot!!! I get to be one of those natural babes on Youtube now!! Naptural85 here I come!!!! Unfortunately, since it’s the winter months I think it’s best that I keep protective styling it with cornrow braids. Wait ’til the summer!