There comes a time in your life when you have to decide to be honest with yourself. Not sugarcoating anything but being truthful with how you feel on the inside; that way you can learn to embrace the things you wish you could change. I recently had to have this deep and intense conversation with myself. For as long as I can remember I have always hated my hair. I wished I had longer, thinner, looser curls… I wanted to have “good hair”. Instead I was given extremely thick, medium length hair that I constantly wished would somehow magically change if I tried hard enough. My childhood was spent sitting in the beauty salon getting relaxers and spending an hour or two under the dryer to my stylist’s dismay. I constantly used heat to give me the silky smooth hair that I desired.
Having hair stylists make remarks about how my hair was too thick to even wash and how it would never get dry, had a damaging effect on my self-esteem. Instead of them giving me tips on my hair type, the negative criticism made me hate my hair even more. At this point I felt as if I could never go to a stylist again because I didn’t want to burden them with my “difficult” hair. My mom tried her hardest to get me to see that the hair I was given was good enough, but I could never see it. Until one day I stumbled upon a Youtube video by Naptural85. Seeing her opened my eyes to a world that I had never even thought I could be apart of. She had the same hair type as me and her hair looked healthy and long just like I had always wanted for myself. On that day I stopped getting relaxers and started my transition.
I knew that I couldn’t keep straightening my hair because it would start to become heat damaged and doing the big chop was something that I was too scared to do so the next best thing for me was to get sew-ins. Sew-in extensions became my best friend, having my hair in braids underneath assured me that my hair would grow and stay healthy while allowing me to have versatile hair styles. This was my comfort zone for many years and instead of it helping, it hindered me. I was no longer waiting for all of my relaxed hair to grow out but rather deepening my hatred for my own hair. As I got into college I would strategically schedule hair appointments so that none of my classmates would ever see me with my actual hair. I would even go so far as to skip class and call off work so I wouldn’t have to be seen without my “hair security blanket”. It got so bad that my hair stylist was pleading with me to stop with the extensions and to let my hair breath. I knew that in order for me to stop running away from my hair I had to run toward it.
On December 20th I took down my last sew-in and for the first time in three and a half years I wore my hair out. The first full day was the hardest, I constantly looked in the mirror at myself as I tried to adjust to this new person in front of me. I felt self conscious as if wearing my hair in a twistout would make me the target of piercing eyes. I was worried that wearing my natural hair would make me stand out more thanks to the ridiculous standards of beauty that we are taught. Instead of all of my greatest fears coming true the complete opposite happened, I was comfortable.
The stigma that I associated with my hair was gone and I felt like this afro style suited me better than any of the styles I had previously. As each day goes on I’m learning more and more about my hair and how to take care of it. I know that not everyday will be a good hair day but the more I accept what I can’t change the better my attitude about myself will be. The India Arie song I Am Not My Hair contained lyrics that made me ponder even more about my decision to accept my kinks and coils. “Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person? Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? Oh Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity? I am expressing my creativity” These lines resonated with me and helped me in the decision to reclaim my hair and to no longer be ashamed of it.