The Relaxer Breakup
Name: Racquel Waite
"My hair was relaxed before, or chemically straightened. I got my first relaxer in Jamaica when I was 9 years old, because my mom said my hair was too thick and hard to manage. At first, I was excited to have long straight hair, but as is the case with chemically breaking the bonds of your hair, repeated treatments eventually caused major damage. I had never thought about going natural during high school, since that was not the norm where I'm from. When I was young in Jamaica, only kids had natural hair. The majority of teens and adults had relaxed hair.
"Natural hair became something I'm super proud of and a feature that makes me more confident."
I went natural in 2011. My friend was going natural as a way to embrace her blackness and 'authentic self' and it inspired me to do the same. I was a poor college student at the time, so I didn't ask my stylist for help. I just let my natural roots grow out and then chopped off the relaxed ends. (It's a method known as 'the big chop.') I sported a teeny Afro for a couple of days before wearing weaves and braids regularly. I was nervous about rocking a teeny tiny Afro and that's why I quickly got extensions and did not wear my natural hair until it grew to a length that I liked. Eventually, I felt beautiful even with short kinky hair and learned how to manage my natural hair in a way that made it seem like less of a burden. Natural hair became something I'm super proud of and a feature that makes me more confident."