First off, this article is in no way trying to convert you into this world of natural hair. If you love wearing protective styles frequently, or prefer to have it relaxed or permed, go ahead and flaunt it. It’s weird to me that there are some women and men who makes people feel worthless just because of the state of their hair, but they have no right to dictate how you manage your hair.
With that said, here’s my story:
If you had told me five years ago that I’d be extremely confident in my looks and cry in amazement every time I wear my Afro, I would think you’re crazy. I can’t believe that I am now in a place where not only I am wearing my hair naturally and proudly, but I can start to see my beauty and importance as a Black woman more than ever.
But before I get into more cheesy clichés about my hair, and present you with a poem at the end of the article, let’s take a look at my humble beginnings.
I remember like it was yesterday; my mother waking me up at 6am in the morning and brings a folding chair to the front of the kitchen stove. She then begins to separate my hair in sections, digs a chunk of Royal Crown hair dressing from the jar, and place it in each section on my scalp.
Now, if you were once a young Black girl back in the day, do you remember the sizzle of the comb as it slid through the hair, and you had to hold down your ears as your mother went for the roots? The good ole days. From as young as 6 to 18 years old, I dealt with this same routine and I lost a lot of confidence and hair throughout these times.
However, those days were long gone once I graduated from high school, and I decided the frustrating process of straightening my hair and the stressful college schedule was not going to mix. I had to figure out another way of doing my hair.
For me, my hair journey wasn’t like the other Black girls around me. I wasn’t fortunate to go to hair salons often and get a press and curl from a stylist. My mother was always my stylist, even though there were times I wanted to report her free services every time she burnt my skin when the comb had to hit my roots. It hurt so much, but I knew it was accidental.
I never worn extensions up until I was 18 years old, or had my hair relaxed, also because of my mother. Through her experience with relaxed hair and the consequences she suffered because of it, she made sure her daughter would never go through that, which I am grateful for. Matter of fact, I had no idea what a relaxer was until I was introduced into the “natural hair community” via YouTube, and saw so many courageous Black and Hispanic women document their hair journeys in videos, doing big chops and rocking a “TWA”, aka, teeny weeny fro. (Who made that name up?)
Because I never had a relaxer, I just transitioned my hair and grew out the heat damage. After five years of Jamaican black castor oil, $100+ worth of products, and hair extensions, look at the transformation:
This hair journey is more than just hair to me, it allowed me to develop a relationship with a quality of mine that I hated for years. It also forced me to face other insecurities that I had with myself, and at that moment I was learning how to practice self-love. Here are three things my hair taught me:
Women with kinky-textured hair, also known as “4C” and “nappy” (a term I don’t necessarily like), needs A LOT of patience to style. From reading comments under natural hair videos, and Facebook pages dedicated to natural hair, this is one of the reasons many black women can’t adjust their time and energy with it. This texture has very tight curls, and it’s not easy to know what our hair likes until we buy a bunch of products and pray that our hair dries overnight in twists. After five years, I’m still struggling with it, but I know that my hair hates silicone products, and I know eventually I’ll figure it out and I can always style it with an up-do if all else fails.
This is why I have so much confidence with my hair, because I learned to accept everything that comes with it. It’s dreadful to think about the single-strand knots, excessive shedding, moisture overload, and summer shrinkage, but there is nothing wrong with any of that. I accepted the fact that my hair needs special care, and that I wasn’t meant to have the typical “wash & go” curly hair that is socially deemed the most beautiful. I have to own my texture, and make it beautiful even when society tells me not to.
Throughout my journey, I’ve had friends, family, and even strangers on the street ask me what I do to my hair. It surprises me sometimes because I was just like them; in the beginning of the journey, I had no idea what I was doing. Now, it feels like I encourage others on their journey, and I have no problem talking to someone step by step on styling and what products did not work for me. The biggest tip I know is that no matter how much advice or information someone gives you, you have to try it your way at least once. No hair is the same and I can’t tell you what works for everyone, but I love to place others in the right direction. The compliments of others makes me feel like I’m important, worthy, and I have some sort of value. I need that.
Another great perk is that last 30 seconds before I walk out the door, and put in my minor touches to my Afro. I never before looked at a mirror feeling amazing until now.
I didn’t see myself as a beautiful Black girl as a teen, and I didn’t see the importance of it until I saw myself wearing an Afro.
My hair helped me find my identity, a higher level of confidence and strength, and a new perspective on what defines beauty. I’m also at a point where I feel confident doing a big chop and starting over…well eh maybe when I’m 30.
I even performed a poem about my hair, watch below: