Why Should You Go Natural With Your Hair

Going Natural Was The Best Decision I Ever Made For My Hair

A message to those who have major doubts about doing the big chop and have no idea what they're getting into.

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Growing up, my hair was always either pressed or permed, also known as a relaxer. I couldn't even tell you the last time I ever saw my natural hair. I got my first perm when I was in 7th grade, so I'd say in around 2010. I was so excited to have straight hair, and I loved how silky smooth it was.

However, there was a lot of maintenance and costs to it. Having straight hair isn't cheap, ladies. I mean, I was spending around $40 every 2 weeks and couldn't participate in many sports because of the fear of sweating out my freshly done perm. Also, if you waited long to get your perm redone, your hair would start breaking and shedding.

At 12 years old, I didn't mind it because I always assumed that beauty was pain. I never paid attention to all of the chemicals being put in my hair because I knew the outcome would be great in terms of looks. The only thing that was tedious was the amount of time I had to spend blow-drying my hair. Washing my hair was pretty easy, but blow-drying would be so time-consuming and rather annoying.

Arielle Lewis My hair after relaxer around 2015-2016.

High school came around the corner and my hair started to break even more. I would stroke my hair sometimes and feel burn spots from the relaxer. My hair was thin and my ends were always broken. The smell was also extremely strong and it would get worse every time I sweat. I would wear box braids from time-to-time, not only because it was considered as a "protective style," but because it was so much easier to manage. Not having to blow-dry my hair after every wash, not having to worry about combing, no bad hair days and how easy they were to style was the best part about braids. I would say that I have been wearing braids on-and-off for about 10 years now. After I would remove my braids, I would simply re-perm my hair.

Arielle Lewis My hair in a box-braid style back in May of this year.

Realizing I Needed A Change

My time during college was when I made the biggest decision of my life. For the first 2 years of undergrad, I wore nothing but braids and would take them out every time I would come home for a break. Like I said earlier, I always thought that braids were so much easier to manage. Plus, at the time, I didn't know any hairdressers in the Baltimore area nor wanted to pay an expensive price. I guess I would say that my hair was transitioning at this point, because I would take my braids out and either wear out my real hair or just put fresh braids in.

All of my friends around me had natural hair and encouraged me to try it. In fact, pretty much EVERYONE around me in college had natural hair and were really proud of it. I didn't see the point of having natural hair if I wore braids all the time. I had some friends that wore wigs and continued to wear perms, but at the time, I didn't get the hype. I loved having braids and I didn't expect to go natural anytime soon. Braids also allowed my real hair to grow over the course of the years. But after removing them, I started to really think about going natural.

Every time I would remove my braids and shower, my roots were curly and thick (or natural), while my ends were thin and straight. It looked like dead strings of hair which really bothered me. I could see my naturally curly hair showing and I loved the fact that this was my real hair. Combing the dead ends was a complete nightmare every time. My hair stayed this way for the next 9 months until I finally had enough. The only thing that was holding me back was the fear of losing my hair. My mom even gave me a natural hair shampoo because she knew that I wasn't getting perms anytime soon. I still had braids while I was using the natural hair shampoo. I pretty much treated it like regular shampoo.

Back in March 2018, I started asking for advice from family members and friends, and even stayed up all night watching natural hair tutorials and big chop videos on YouTube. I still wanted to go through with the idea because I wanted healthy hair and I was tired of always having to stress about my ends. I kept telling myself that I would big chop my hair in May, when I finished my sophomore year of college. I would read articles about the pros and cons of having natural hair, and I was still conflicted because I felt that I wouldn't like it. I never cut my hair before, so I didn't know what to expect. Pretty much everyone has doubts about cutting their hair. You ask yourself, "What am I going to look like?," or "Am I going to like this new look?" Sometimes you even wonder if what you did is worth it. One of my really good friends has been coaching me along the way for the past 9 months and as the days got closer, I started to become more nervous.

The Beginning: The Big Chop

The night before the big chop, I spent hours educating myself and making sure that I was still going through with this. At that point, I was ready to go forward and I kept trying to surround myself with positive thoughts about how it wouldn't be that bad. I am a huge fan of makeup, so I knew I wouldn't look like a boy. I knew I was going to get braids for the school year, so why not?

June 1, 2018 was the day I decided to go through with my new hair journey. My friend slowly cut off all of my dead ends and helped me wash my hair. As I watched my hair fall to the floor and on my shirt, I didn't feel any pain or regret at all. I looked at the number of straight ends on the ground and it looked pretty gross. I couldn't believe I kept those useless strands in my hair for so long. I was even amazed by my mini afro, and I instantly knew that I could make this look amazing. My friend also showed me some styles that I could do. (My personal favorite is the high bun.) I was overall shocked, and it took a while to process that this was my hair now. I wasn't upset at all as I thought I would be.

Arielle Lewis My hair post 3 weeks of doing the big chop.

My mom, however, wasn't a fan. My mother has long hair up to her back and it is permed. I mean, she's the reason I even got perms in the first place. But I didn't care about what she thought. My dad really liked my new hair, as well as my friends, my grandma, and even my coworkers.

Arielle Lewis One of my go-to styles when I am getting ready for work or just want to keep my hair out of the way. Like I mentioned earlier, this is called the high bun!

The Aftermath: Feeling Glad That I Did It

A lot of girls even told me about how there is an awkward stage where you don't know how to style your hair. I honestly didn't have an awkward stage because I would wear my hair in a bun every day. I would style my mini afro with big hoop earrings and a red lip, and I was flooded with compliments.

I'm honestly glad I did the big chop, simply because it didn't make a difference to how I looked. The only thing different was that I now had healthy hair and it makes life so much easier. Of course, there are still things that I can't do, like blow-dry my hair (as if that's a bad thing) or comb my hair out and flat iron it.

The best thing about going natural for me is that I was surrounded by people who could give me natural hair advice and helped me realize that all of us are in the same boat. The products that I would say really helped me were natural hair shampoos, coconut oil, shea butter, argon oil, Jamaican black castor oil, and even Eco style gel (or any gel for natural hair). And if you don't like your hair, you can always wear braids and wigs. The key to loving your natural hair is to always have an open mind and have positive thoughts. That sounds really corny, but what I meant is that I was always trying to think of pros of having natural hair and when I finally cut it, I was shocked that I instantly knew how to style and wear my hair.

Within one month (July 1), my hair grew. If my hair grew that much so fast, I'm excited for what's to come. If I ever decided to straighten or blow-dry my hair, it would be the same length as I had my perm (but that won't be any time soon since I want to make time for more hair growth.

Currently after cutting my hair off.Arielle Lewis

What also helps is that I put my hair in twists before going to bed in order to hold in the curls for the next day. It's actually really satisfying, unraveling the curls and seeing my hair look a lot fuller and curlier. It kind of looks weird in the photo below, but my curls are always bombed so it's worth it.

My hair in twists prior to when I go to bed. This was taken last week, so you can tell my hair grew a little bit after a few months.

Another sign of hair growth...This was taken back in August after 2 months. I will update my hair journey in a few months! Look out for my next natural hair article in 2019.

To all those still on the fence, I would say DO IT. You're going to stress yourself out thinking constantly about cutting it. Hair always grows back. Some faster than others but it will always grow back. Also, learn how to style your hair by watching videos or even learn from a friend. You can always use makeup to style your look, too! You will look back and realize, what were you worried about? It's always good to start over.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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10 Quotes That Will Help You Realize Your Self-Worth

Sometimes you need a little pick me up and that's okay because I'm pretty sure it happens to everyone. When I need a pick me up, I tend to look over quotes that help with either giving me an ego boost or reminding me to keep working.

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These 10 quotes are from a notes page that I keep on my phone with a list of over 100 quotes. I keep quotes on my phone to give me reminders, advice, or even some motivation. I specifically chose these ten quotes to help anyone remind themselves to never give up and to know your self-worth, which is priceless.

1. "Hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself."

This quote reminds me to only focus on what I think about myself and to continue bettering myself. The part of the quote that states, "never excuse yourself" really illuminates how there is always room for improvement in every aspect of your life. Never allow yourself to fall behind and to continue growing.

2. "I am left with no choice, but to create an empire from these ruins within me."

Anyone I am depressed (or heartbroken...), this quote reminds me you can only come up from rock bottom.

3. "If you're happy in yourself, you radiate happiness and attract happiness."

Any time I'm feeling down, I like to read this quote because it helps me work to getter better. The quote pushes me to get better because everything is much better and warmer when you're happy. Emotions soak in more, laughs are genuine, and happy tears become a reality.

4. "You don't need to be better than anyone else, you just need to be better than you used to be." -Wayne W. Dyer

Dyer's quote forces me to continue improving myself. I know this is similar to the first quote, but it helps even more because it reminds me to never forget where I came from.

5. "Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." -Louise L. Hay

When I am feeling down about myself, Hay's quote helps me get out of the funk because I will only continue to spiral if I only focus on the negative.

6. "I am the flower and the thorns. I don't need you to touch me in order to blossom." -Haley Hendrick

Hendrick's quote gives me the confidence to be a strong independent young woman. I do not need a pity party to feel better about myself. I can cope and continue growing because rain is the only way flowers bloom.

7. "Be nice to yourself. It's hard to be happy when someone is being mean to you all the time."

If you continue to criticize yourself and only focus on your "flaws," you will never be able to be happy. I know it is harsh but if you don't love yourself, you won't be able to ever fully love anyone. Being kind and allowing yourself to grow is the best self-care. Take a break from whatever you're busy with at the time if you need to. Take a breath and focus on the reasons you love yourself and what all you have accomplished.

8. "I wanna make my parents proud, my enemies jealous, and myself satisfies."

This quote points you in the direction of self-growth because it allows you to remember there are never excuses for yourself. Growing up is a part of life, so is adaptation and evolution. You have to go with the flow and keep up with the times.

9. "Your body is not a temple..."

"Your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest, thick canopies of maple trees and sweet wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated."

Do not ever let anything keep your down, break through the ceiling if you have to. Keep pushing and working for whatever dreams you have.

10. "You don't have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life..."

"You don't ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn't matter whether someone is s relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance — you don't have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It's one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignored your boundaries, and "continues" to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go." — Daniell Koepke

Sometimes, you had to leave behind people you thought would be in your life forever because they're holding you back. Sometimes they just always bring negativity and make you feel bad about yourself. Sometimes people make cool jokes and don't understand how it isn't funny. These people are toxic and it is okay to remove them from your life. Keep growing but always remember what could have happened if you stayed behind.

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