Traveling into unknown territory is both exciting and scary, but factually just simply unknown. Both you and your hair are experiencing something new together. When venturing into the unknown it is always a good idea to be clearer of at least one thing, you. When you know you, you know how to stay centered and calm, how you will react properly and how to overcome any situation. The same is true for your hair. Getting to know your hair allows you to make clearer decisions to maintain a healthy, peaceful regime.
Being the only black girl in a foreign place is a fascination. Being the only black girl in a foreign place and allowing people to see part of the process of being a black girl is awe-inspiring.
Shortly after my 28th birthday I realized I needed some kind of change. I was stressed out during my emotional process of evolution, feeling very unaccomplished and still searching for purpose. I wanted some kind of fresh start. I needed to clear my head, and so that is what I did. I cut off my hair.
And so it was. on Dec 30th 2016, 7 hours before I was to board a plane for Anguilla, I said yes to the ultimate experiment; to put myself in the circumstance that would expose the areas of disconnection lurking within me. I wanted to once and for all move past my insecurities that I beautifully camouflaged… and what better time to do it than at the cusp of a new year, in a tropical paradise, where no one knew me.
Hands shaking, NERVES ON 💯, I called my long time barber friend. Without hesitation he came to the salon, cell phone in hand playing the classic hair liberation anthem, “I am not my hair”. As the clippers started to buzz, and curly hair hit the floor, I was numb.
After the first month, I realized my afro was getting long enough where I needed a pick for my fro. Unfortunately, I had no pick so I went to the nearest place I thought would have one: an african accessory store in the central underground subway station near my house. I got there and looked around yet saw no picks. So then I asked the store clerk “Do you have a pick”? Curiously, she looked at me with a blank face. I got a piece of paper and tried to draw a pick. She said “A fork?” At that point, I realized I had much to learn about being prepared to live abroad as a curly-headed traveler.
“The biggest struggle in Bali has been the humidity and the unavailability of products. I (Izzy) just cut my hair because it was too hot and my hair became really hard to maintain. We all went a bit shorter but I think the humidity has been really drying on our hair.” Bali isn’t a location that caters to curly haired individuals so finding products to help maintain healthy curls can be an undertaking.
In New York, her curls are usually maintained in shape with very little effort. Styling consisted of a bit of heat over her front curls with a small curling wand. This creates the illusion that all her curls are intact while the reality is to maintain the shape and fixing the edges. “If I’m on my second or third-day curls, I’ll wet my hands and add a little water or spay my curls, so that they’ll have some moisture, otherwise, it will just be frizz.” Alina discovered that this technique is impossible to maintain her curls while in Bali. During a day of filming near a waterfall, she realized that more must be done to keep her curls. “In ten minutes, my perfect little-coiled ringlets turned into confused naps…this Bali weather is wild.
Perseverance creates a reward that can only make one proud. To push yourself past what you thought was your breaking point, past your want to give up, in order to receive an amazing gift at the completion, helps to remind you, just how capable you are. I could not have been more proud of myself for such an experience.