Being natural for 17 years or so, I often reflect on my hair experiences. So I've decided to include those reflections here.
I was about 16 years old in this picture. It's been nearly a year since my last relaxer. I just pressed my new growth to blend the two textures. I pressed my hair with an electric, thermostat-controlled marcel curling iron. At this point I began reading all the hair articles I could find - conditioning, styling, hair and scalp anatomy, you name it. I had seen many women and girls with damaged hair and I was determined to NOT look like them. That sounds mean, but that was my motivation. My priorities were
1) prevent damage
2) style my hair in a way that camouflaged any flaws
My hair was different lengths, no not layered, just various lengths due to growth patterns and breakage. So I kept my hair pinned up. Since the back section was long I would let that hang while the rest was pinned up. I NEVER wore a wrap or any sleek, Aaliyah-inspired hairdo. I wore curly styles to conceal my uneven tresses.
One of my favorite everyday styles a single French braid with bangs. Sometimes I would tuck the braid into the base to protect the ends. Next would be a French Roll with bangs. The last resort was the Wilma Flintstone hairdo. Those bangs were pressed to death! It's no wonder they suffered heat damage.
My mother had/has a Sampson complex when it comes to cutting hair. My only reason for not pressing the issue was my insecurities about having a large head. I "needed" to have a lot of hair with this head. So I trimmed the relaxed ends every few weeks. If any one wants to know more about the "grow out" option of going natural, I can certainly help you. It can be done with patience and careful handling.