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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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.
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It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning.

You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret.

So here are 20 tattoos you can't go wrong with. Each tattoo has its own unique meaning, but don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semicolon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.


2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."


3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.


4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."


5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."


6. Greek symbol of Inguz: Where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."


8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya).


9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty, and artistic creativity.


10. The Greek word “Meraki" means to do something with soul, passion, love, and creativity or to put yourself into whatever you do.


11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from "The Hobbit." It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.


13. “Lux in tenebris" means “light in darkness."

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength and stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora" is translated literally as “Towards greater things." It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.


16. A glyph means “explore." It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."


18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe and the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can remind us of the inconsistency of life. It also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.


SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos


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10 Things You Should Think To Yourself Every Time You Look In The Mirror

There is more to us than what we see in the mirror.

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I know I am not the only one when I look at the mirror that tends to notice the negatives and things I wish would change about myself. I am my own worst critic, and sometimes I wish the one thing I could change about myself is the way I view myself. Whether we are 100% confident with the way we look or we struggle each day looking in the mirror, let's all work to think these 10 thoughts every time we take a glance in the mirror.

1. My hair might not be "perfect," but that is OK 

Princess Dairies

Whether you have long straight hair, short curly hair, or no hair at all, it is okay. Understand that each of us is cut from a different cloth, making us each unique and perfect the way we are. Know that no amount of frizz, texture, or color will decide what is considered the perfect hairstyle.

2. I am more than the size of my clothes 

Size Doesn't Matter

The number on the waistline of your jeans and the tag on your shirt is not a rank of who you are. Don't let a number decide how you feel about yourself because you're worth more. There's a difference between being excited because you are losing or gaining weight on purpose, and you've changed in size. That's a goal you set out to achieve and should be proud of for accomplishing.

3. My legs may jiggle, but they help carry me through the best and worst times  

Running

Who honestly cares about you having a thigh gap beside you? No matter your physical strength, your legs are strong, and they help move you every step you take. Be proud of them, be proud of you.

4. Beauty is not one size fits all 

Body Positivity

This world is filled with all sorts of people, and we all look different. Understanding and loving the diversity that this world brings will help you find the much-needed acceptance and love from yourself.

5. I'm going to be me today, bumps and all 

I'm just me.

You are not a walking, talking, real-life photoshopped photo. No matter how hard it is to admit, we all have our bumps on our skin. We can't let them hold us back.

6. My superpower is being me 

Behind the scenes

We all have our own weaknesses, strengths, and little personality quirks that make us who we are. Beauty is not just on the outside. We have so much inner beauty with who we are, and understanding that you are a gift to this world is something we need to remind ourselves every day.

7. My body is always ready for a swimsuit 

Every body is a swimsuit body

Need to know how to get a swimsuit body? Put on a swimsuit, and there you go! I think we all struggle during the time of year when the temperatures rise and the idea of strolling around in a swimsuit, whether a bikini, one piece or swim trunks.

8. I change for me, not you 

No Way

If you decide to lose weight, gain weight, change your style, or anything, that is okay. It is your life, and you shouldn't change yourself for others. If you make these changes, do them solely for yourself—not your family, best friend, significant other, or anyone.

9. My self-worth isn't defined by others 

I am amazing.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of listening to critics about yourself, and something we all need to realize that we are worth more than gold. We shouldn't decide our value based on other people, because, in the end, they don't know the full picture of us. The only person who does is yourself.

10.  I love me 

Learn to love yourself.

To love yourself is to embrace all of the good and bad things about yourself, and then understand each little part about yourself makes you. If you can't love yourself, who can? Loving yourself isn't easy, but in the end, is 100% worth it.

Whether you have these written on Post-It notes stuck to your mirror or these are mantras you say in your mind each morning, these thoughts can help you find a more positive outlook about yourself. This isn't a cure, but a step in the right direction. Our world is hard enough, and we shouldn't make it any harder on ourselves by tearing ourselves every chance we can.

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