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My best friend/cousin (because Black people love to make people our cousins) was the first person in my life to go natural. I didn’t understand it. The relaxer life was so easy. Why would she choose to struggle with her hair unnecessarily?

I had just talked my mother into letting me get relaxers again a couple of years before, and was overjoyed by how much easier it was to manage my hair. Up until that point, I had a standing every-other-week appointment to get my hair pressed. While it kept my hair sleek, Black hair with no chemicals in the Texas heat and humidity, or any sweating I might have done playing sports in middle school and high school, was a recipe for disaster. Swimming? And then do all this hair after?

That’s probably why I can’t swim now.

Anyways, several years later I was in college and playing with the idea of going natural too. While the process wasn’t very popular yet, I realized that I missed the way my hair used to curl up when it got wet, and I hated the way I ended up with chemical burns on my scalp every eight weeks.

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