If my hair could talk it would have stories to tell for days. From relaxers to weaves, braids, you name it. My hair would tell all the tea and have you laughing while listening. For so long in American culture, black hair has carried such negativity. We have been taught as black women that our natural hair is not good enough. That it is too “ethnic” and doesn’t fit society’s “standard of beauty.” We have been conditioned to believe that it’s too nappy, kinky, and not acceptable. Causing so many of us to water down our blackness to fit in. Well, here’s my hair story!
mother gave me a perm when I was a little girl. Relaxed hair was all I knew. I remember being told to be careful with my hair when going to the pool in the summertime at the park during family picnics. As well as running inside or hurrying to get an umbrella when it started raining. All to make sure that my hair didn’t get wet so my relaxer would not get messed up. I remember the in-between times of waiting to get my touch-ups and putting my hair in ponytails or a bun in the meantime.
“I wanted my hair to look like Brandy, Monica, and Aaliayah’s”
Growing up in the nineties, I was such a fan of Brandy, Monica, and Aaliyah. I would play their music over and over in my Discman, remember those? I would watch their videos on BET and MTV. So it was only natural to want to emulate their style. When I was in the eighth grade, I got braids like Brandy in the I Want To Be Down video. In the ninth grade, I got my hair cut because I wanted to be sassy like Ms. Thang Monica. When it grew out by the tenth grade I channeled my inner Aaliyah. I even tried to have the bang over my eye. I didn’t quite capture the look just as she did, but I tried.
One time I got inspired by a picture I saw of Janet Jackson with spiral curls. My mom took me to the hairdresser so I could get my hair just like the picture only for me to wake up the next morning in tears because the curls fell out! I was so mad. I thought I was going to be cute at school on Monday with my curls. That plan was an epic fail. Then by the end of high school, it was cut again. From there it was a weave, short styles, weaves, highlights, then short all while keeping that relaxer touched up.
Then one day in my late thirties I was ready for a change. I was tired of trying to figure out what to do with my hair. I was wearing it short and it just wasn’t working for me anymore. There wasn’t a style I could think of that suited me at the time. I just wanted something different and a change was needed. Plus, it was during COVID and I had plenty of free time on my hands as most of us did.
“It’s Wig Time!”
One morning without hesitation I went into the bathroom and grabbed the scissors, then the clippers. It was random and on the fly. Once I started I knew there was no going back. I thought to myself it is what it is and it’s going to be what it’s going to be. When I was finished, I looked in the mirror at my bald -head self and said wig time!
When I was ready to ditch the wigs, stepping out with my natural hair was tough. I felt self-conscious. What are people going to think of these little tight curls on my head? My perm would straighten those right out so I never had to see them. Now, they were on my head for everyone to see. What naturally grew out of my scalp is on display. Am I ready for this?
Over time I got over it and became more confident. It may sound strange but something is empowering about embracing my natural hair. I felt like I was no longer trying to make my hair do something that it was not designed to. I no longer panic if I get caught in the rain without an umbrella. I have saved money because I am using fewer products and when it cooperates it can be low maintenance.
“We are still getting to know each other“
Don’t get me wrong, my natural hair journey has not been a cake- walk. I have to admit that I do have a love-hate relationship with my hair. There are days when I love it. Usually, on those days my curl gel and oil come together just right. My hair and I have a meeting and we are on the same page. Then I have those days where I feel like my hair is mad at me and refuses to cooperate. It just looks at me and says, “Girl, sorry but not today. Good luck!” It’s on those days I have the urge to run to the nearest beauty supply store and grab some relaxer. I have to remind myself that I’m learning my hair and it’s learning me too. Soon, we will be besties…I hope.
Even though I’m still pretty new to this natural hair world, I’m becoming more confident in it. My hair and I are still getting to know each other. It reminds me that I am beautiful just as I was created. What grows out of my black girl scalp is just as pretty as anyone else’s. That thinking is completely different than what we have been conditioned to believe.
I don’t know what this natural hair journey holds for me. One day I may go back to a relaxer, or I may not. I do know that right being natural, I feel authentically and courageously myself.
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