The Natural Hair Chronicles: How I’m Surviving My First Box Braids

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    Solange makes it look so easy. Beyonce pulls hers up in a bun with no effort at all. And Janet Jackson (arguably the originator) and her box braids are still the envy of girls everywhere – even though she rocked them in the early ’90s with high waist denim.

    By the way, I’d totally wear anything in Justice’s closet in this day and age. Obsessed.

    So, when it was finally time – after 20 some odd years – to get my box braids, I expected nothing less than amazing. I know…I was a braid virgin…which is hard to believe when you grow up a black girl whose mother is Angela Davis part deux. I mean, who didn’t have beads and barrettes when they were kids? I sure did. But braids with synthetic hair? Don’t take away my “black card.”

    Anyway, I was finally about to pop my box braid cherry…and I had never been more excited. I could see myself, swinging my braids, piling them on top of my head a la Havana Beyonce. Not waking up with my natural afro stuck to the side of my head. Yes…I’m one of those girls that suffers from “Fro Flat On One Side” anytime I lay down or lean my head on anything. I. Am. Over. IT.

    But things, unfortunately, took a turn for the worse. And for all you first timers out there, I’m here to warn you…ain’t nobody got time for box braids!

    So here’s my journey from afro chic to braided beauty. I’m telling you now…it wasn’t easy:

    So it all started when I decided to go “natural,” some years back. Meaning no chemical products. And when all the girls around me were still wearing straight hair, I wanted a curly fro. The transition was hard and I had to cut most of my hair off. And all my friends hated it and told me to “just get a relaxer” and I was like…

    It was totally important that I rock the most epic afro ever at Howard University…

     

    And…eventually…my afro grew to epic proportions. It was amazing. And my natural girlfriends and I would walk around like this…

    Then everyone up and went “natural.” Which was a good thing, but I was basically tired of looking like everyone else and was like….

    I remembered how amazing Janet looked in her Poetic Justice box braids. Then, I saw Solange rocking them. And after a brief discussion with my friends, we decided that was the look for me…

    But I was too late. Everyone caught on and started popping up all over the place with the same idea…

    I was pissed. But finally, I was just like “eff it…I’m doing it too!”

    So earlier this week, I go to the African braid shop all excited to get new hair…

    And the lady tells me it’s going to take four to five hours to finish:

    But I agree to it anyway…new hair, new you, new ‘tude. But then she starts braiding and basically I looked like this the whole time…

    Pulling, yanking, dipping the ends in boiling hot water. This is braiding? I can’t even move my head…or my neck! But she finally finishes. And I’m all like…

    Basically, my scalp is on fire.

    Why does this hair feel like a ton of bricks on top of my head? Will I ever be able to function with these connected to my scalp? Will my edges fall out? Edges are totally important! I need my edges! What is this pain?!

    Wait…now it itches…

    But then the braid lady introduced me to some braid and sheen spray that felt like angel kisses and unicorn breath on my head. Relief…

    Then it was time. She twirled me around in the chair and I looked in the mirror. Instant reaction?

    Oh yes…that was worth it. My dreams have come true. So now I’m doing a lot of this, because basically this woman here was my “braid flip” idol…

    And a lot of this down the hallways at work…

    And even though it will take a few days until the braids won’t feel so tight on my scalp, I’m in natural girl heaven. A protective style AND I look like a million bucks. And these hair flips have basically given me more life than I’ve ever had.

    But while I’m totally in love with this glorious crown of twisted awesomeness…don’t say I didn’t warn you about the box braid struggle. It’s real…but any time you get to flip your majestic mane like that man in those heels above this paragraph…you’re winning.

    Now, go get your Poetic Justice on…I did…

    Christina Coleman 

    Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that.

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