Why I Want To Know My Natural Hair
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Journey To My Roots

How I'm taking the first steps to start embracing my natural hair

Journey To My Roots

The relationship I've had with my natural hair is a bit...tangled. Note: I have no regrets with making that reference whatsoever. It is one of my favorite Disney movies, probably in my top five. But I most definitely digress.

For those of you who are not black or don't have curly or kinky hair, I'll try my best to define some things for you. When I use the term "natural hair" that means as it was the day I was born, no chemical treatments, like relaxers, which chemically straighten your hair, no texturizers, no hot combs, none of that.

I probably haven't seen my natural hair since I was probably in kindergarten. And there is a good reason for that. I'm African-American, more specifically, Nigerian-American and our hair is thick and kinky and can be so hard to take care of. My mom would have me and my sister get our hair braided, and if it wasn't braided, it got straightened with a hot comb (an iron comb that gets heated either with a plug or other means). Slapping on all types of oils and gels and creams just to get it to look "nice" by other standards. It wasn't until I was in 5th grade that I started using more relaxers and sew in weaves to deal with my hair.

I hated my hair for a long time. Most of my friends were white and even the ones that weren't, they all still had nice long hair, that they could style however they wanted. Make it curly or straight, put colors in it. To be able to go swimming without trying to fit those tiny swim caps over a head full of braids not worry about how badly the chlorine would affect their hair. I wished so badly that I had hair like theirs, pretty hair that didn't require a whole day worth of work to wash, condition, rinse, condition again, and then style all while combing in between to prevent any tangles or knots. I tried to give myself bangs in middle school, which was basically pinning a strip of hair across my forehead and it looked horrible.

High school wasn't much better, I hated any days where I had to go to school with my hair not braided because it meant I had to deal with making sure my hair was still moisturized and presentable. The entire process of relaxing my hair got really bad when my junior year of high school, the night before my ACT exam I had to relax my hair. My mom and I were both distracted and didn't time it and the relaxer ended up burning part of my scalp and some of my hair was so weak it just broke off. I was a mess. Not only had the relaxer I had used ruin my hair, I was in pain and I still had to take my ACTs in the morning. I went to bed with vaseline on my scalp and cried myself to sleep. I refused to use relaxers again for months after that and my mom agreed I should give my hair a break.

Fast forward to present time, I'm now a senior in university and am trying to do better by myself and my hair. I last used a relaxer maybe several months ago and haven't been as finicky with straightening my hair. But the last couple of months I've been thinking about my hair and how crazy it is that I have no real idea what it looks like when it's not straight or relaxed. I see women both around campus and online with their natural hair and how happy they look embracing it and I want that for myself. I'm twenty one and don't know how to take care of my own hair and that just doesn't seem right to me.

I decided last month that I wanted to start transitioning my hair or maybe even do the big chop.

That means I either stop using all chemicals and heat tools on my hair and cut the old parts that aren't my natural hair or just start fresh with the big chop and cut off all the treated hair immediately, leaving only my natural hair behind. I'm a bit hesitant to do the big chop, so transitioning might be the one that takes the cake. But at the same time, the thought of just being able to start fresh with my own hair sounds so liberating. It was so hard growing up and not seeing women of color, especially on tv shows for kids and not seeing people with my hair. It makes you feel unseen, unwanted and ugly. But now I feel like there are so many more women of color embracing their natural hair, shaving their heads, coloring it, all the things I ever wanted to do as a kid but felt like I'd be judged for it. It's hard being black in a country that doesn't want anything to do with who you are but takes whatever it wants from your culture to make it your own.

I'm working on figuring out where to find a stylist that knows how to deal with natural hair and as of this day forward, I plan to stop using relaxers and heat on my hair. It's only natural that I want to take this path (yes I made another pun, suck it up).

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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