Dear everyone who's always asking me questions about my hair,
My love for natural hair is a recent phenomenon.
As a child I would look at the long, straight hair that my white friends had and I would be in awe. I wondered why my hair didn't feel or look like theirs. As one of the only black kids in my kindergarten class, I felt quite ostracized. I didn't know anyone that was going through the same internal struggles I was. So, in order to be more like the other kids around me. I got a relaxer, and permanently straightened my hair.
From age 6 all the way to age 17 I tried to maintain this look. I thought it was what I wanted and what would look best on me. I had no idea of my natural hair, because I had no memory of it. I only knew of my straight hair.
But, of course, that wasn't the real me. It was just the me that I thought I had to be in order to fit in.
I stopped relaxing my hair during my senior year of high school, which left me in that weird awkward stage where half my hair was straight and the other half was curly. But just being able to feel my natural hair starting to come in really gave me true hope. I could finally feel the curl pattern of my hair. It was a completely authentic part of myself, and I absolutely loved it.
But, I didn't know what to do with it.
While I waited for my hair to grow I started to do protective styling. I change my hair at least once a month. I've had Marley twists, crochet braids, and of course my fair share of box braids.
It wasn't until the summer before my sophomore year of college that I did the big chop and cut off all my relaxed ends.
Best day ever.
I looked in the mirror and was shocked. This was the first time that I had seen my hair in its natural state fully, and I fell in love. I knew that day that I wasn't ever going to go back to relaxed hair. My hair looked better and felt better than it ever had. So, in turn, I felt better about myself. I had some deep struggles with my self-confidence throughout my middle school and high school years, and that moment of self-acceptance was huge for me.
I had a great time wearing my natural hair in a bunch of braid outs and twist outs. But I learned very quickly, that I didn't really know how to manage my hair. Months after my breakthrough, I ended up with terrible split ends for inches and inches. My hair lost its softness and moisture and was brittle and stringy. It was also growing very lopsided and awkward. It was not what I had imagined my lovely natural hair to grow into.
So, I had to get a haircut during Christmas Break 2014 to cut off all the dead ends and even out my fro. I was left with less hair than what I had after the big chop.
I felt awful. I never realized how attached to my hair I was. I never had hair this short before and I felt like my face, hair, head, everything was exposed. All that I ever see getting praised is long hair. I felt like I had lost my femininity. I did not feel pretty at all. I hated it. It was so overwhelming that it left me in never-ending tears. I learned that I wasn't exactly as accepting of myself as I had thought. I was left wearing hats and headscarves once I went back to school, trying to cover it up as much as possible.
My hair's grown since then, but I'm still not 100 percent in love with it like I was when I first did my big chop. I struggle with accepting it. But my hair is still healthier and stronger than it ever was when I had it relaxed. I'm taking care of it the best that I can, and I'm slowly growing more in love with it every day. Short, long, thick, brittle, it's all me and I completely accept it. My natural hair journey was full of ups and downs, but I don't regret a thing. It's one of the best decisions I ever made for myself, the first step into truly becoming my best me.
So if you're thinking about taking the plunge and going natural, I'd advise you to do it. The journey will be truly a beautiful, and eye-opening experience. Take the plunge.