By Stephanie LaCapra
“When I grow up Mommy I want my hair to look just like yours!”. As a woman did you ever utter these prophetic words? Think OMG why did God have to bless me with this hair and give my sister the good kind? Well I did and it’s the reason I can say for almost 15 years (the dates of my first relaxer our still being researched) I’ve been a part of Team Relaxer holding it down proud and strong. See if you ever get the chance to see my mother’s hair you would know why – let’s just say she is Miss Cleopatra incarnated. The woman who birthed me has the type of hair that women die to have, it’s definitely magazine ready at all times, smooth, shiny, silky, aka (all of the above and more). I’m guessing maybe one or two countries have gone to war over her type, (I’m just saying!) hair is a lethal and very lucrative market. I know everyone saw Good Hair!
But on a more serious note there is something to be said when a young girl looks up to her mother – she envies, adores and wants to be just like her in every way especially when it comes to looks. For me, as a young ten-year old that’s who I aspired to be – my mother. So I’m sure it was no surprise to her when I was crying to get my hair like Mommy that relaxing seemed the best option. From then on my relaxed regiment became the norm. Now don’t get me wrong along the way I was rocking ‘do do’ braids, box braids, cornrows you name the braid type and I’m sure I Brandy from Moesha rocked it! But what I’ve learned is that hair is a growing/learning process and with each new phase of my life — change in my spiritual, mental and physical self it seems to align pretty close to my outward appearance.
When I started college – I came in with new clothes, new attitude and most importantly a fresh relaxer. For some time I continued to do that simply wear my hair relaxed but then I wanted change so I embraced weaves for the first time. For me, I loved rocking a weave because I could have the volume, desired texture, and dimension I thought my relaxed hair couldn’t provide (little did I know natural could do the same trick). As I mentioned before hair is a growing/learning process so I didn’t even know at the time what natural was because I hadn’t taken the time to research and truly understand my hair. But I wanted to feel Hollywood – and I did in my weaves! Throughout my years in college I wore a weave and after graduation I moved to NYC (new destination) – same weave, same look (well not the same weave from freshmen year) but you get the picture.
As soon as I hit the concrete streets of New York change was a foot not only with my hair but inside. I started to venture out of my comfort college zone and become a woman on the prowl to find my purpose in life. Little did I know this magical place I like to call my second home gave birth to a huge revelation in my life. For three and half years I labored, toiled and worked my butt off for my advertising degree but as soon as I began to work I realized I missed my one true passion: acting. So as I began to come face to face with the facts that I was born to be an actor inspiration began to saturate all around me in how I looked, talked and even walked. For the first time I was exposing myself to myself by allowing my creativity to live inside of me truthfully.
Also, we are products of our environment and the company we keep can have a huge influence on our outward appearance. When I was a little girl it was my Mom, in college it was Beyonce (still is!) and then I started to see everyone in New York natural and loving it (my roommate and sister Latoyia LaCapra had a big impact)! Suddenly I wanted a pass into Team Natural. I love black hair because we can be so versatile, rock a weave, cut it into a bob, wear natural and even relaxed all within the same month. It’s all about how you feel and two years ago I was itching for a change and I thought hey if Rhianna can change her hair every five seconds why can’t I. So, I began the daunting (or so I thought) task of transforming from relaxed to natural. First, I took out the weave and chopped my relaxed hair really short in a bob (I wore this look for about four months). Then I realized all the straightening from hot combs was breaking off my hair so I put my hair into braids, I absolutely love 125th and Amsterdam those women can braid a mean updo! After a couple of months of braids I needed to make sure I was ready for the transition so I enlisted the help of Ma’at Holistic Wellness Center in Laurel, Maryland.
Zahira Aya Auset or Miss Lynetta as I call her (my amazing hairstylist) suggested I wear a weave to grow out my hair so I could have a large amount of new growth and that’s exactly what I did. For about six months I braided up my hair (of course in between I would get my weaves replaced and re-sewn). Throughout the whole process I consulted with my sister Latoyia LaCapra and her business partner Shauna Cole, they have an amazing hair-care social business that celebrates naturally curly beauties called CurrlyConnect.com (website to launch this fall and hosting a Curly Connect party in November: please check them out).
Flash forward to July 28th , 2011 or as I like to call V-Day. As I sat ready for the big chop I was ready for anything to come my way: if my hair came out really short I would have to just deal with it – tears and all. Lynetta began to chop and suddenly I realized I had so much new growth that it wasn’t even a chop. When she did the big reveal I fell in love with my natural hair (she even used an amazing coiling technique that literally took out all the relaxed ends without making a big fuss! I kissed her feet (just joking) but literally I was ecstatic about the change. Oddly enough the horror stories that I had heard about transitioning never applied to me it truly was smooth sailing from the start and I have my sister, roommate Alicia, Ma’at, Miriam (my favorite hair braid artist), natural friend supporters, relaxed supporters and my boyfriend who is so in love with my new hair.
I have a new do and I’m really glad I’m natural now – but I’m always going to be transforming so next year it could be a purple pixie cut. But, I just want to say whether you are relaxed, natural, locking, or whatever the best thing you can do is embrace yourself. Yes, hair is important but what’s even more important is self-love. I’m totally loving myself right now regardless of how my hair looks!
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