Natural Woman: Lauren Williams
City: Washington, DC
Occupation: Associate Editor, TheRoot.com
Hair Journey: When she was little, all Lauren wanted to do was have "really cool hair" like her big sisters. Instead she wore her hair in long braids, painstakingly styled by her mother. So her first relaxer was a big deal. "I was 10 and it was like this major rite of passage. I got my hair straightened and cut and I loved it!"
Straight, long hair became a style statement for her all through middle school, high school and college (where she maintained the look herself with a Just For Me relaxer). All was well — until a hair color adventure went wrong during her senior year.
"In '03, I got these awful highlights and my hair started breaking. I realized that for the health of my hair I should take a break." Lauren cleverly began her transition her first year of grad school. "No one there new what my hair used to look like!" she said. "I came in with straight hair and I left with big curly hair." After almost a year of transitioning, Lauren " big-chopped myself in the bathroom after a fit of frustration."
Cutting off her long locks gave Lauren a new perspective on her beauty. "In high school and college, having really long hair was a point of vanity for me." Rocking a cropped, natural 'do offered her a fresh kind of freedom. "I felt so much better after I cut it off. I realized I can do anything to my natural hair and it'll grow back. It was an "aha" moment. After that, I felt really relaxed about everything." No pun intended!
Favorite Products: Hair Rules Kinky Curling Crème ($18.50, hairrules.com), Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding ($22, missjessies.com), DevaCurl No-Poo Conditioning Cleanser ($15.17, amazon.com)
Hair Icons: Erykah Badu, Lisa Bonet, Solange
Advice to Aspiring Naturals: Don't be afraid of the big chop! It will grow back, and it's far less painful than watching all of your hair break off as you're transitioning."