It’s taken me a lifetime but I think I’m finally beginning to love my hair in it’s natural state. I’m finally starting to see the unique and exquisite beauty in my golden kinks and coils. What I once tried to subdue, I’m letting flourish.
A Love-Hate Relationship with Hair
Like so many other black girls, my first hair memories involve me seated inbetween my mother’s legs, wincing as a blowdryer plowed through my hair. The hot comb burned my ears. Braids took too long. Hair at that age is a bother, a burden in fact. I have memories of my thick 4b strands being so defiant they broke the teeth off combs.
It wasn’t until I was 13 that I first had my hair flat ironed. I loved how my hair moved, wispy and reminiscent of European beauty standards. From there I began on a path of experimentation. Sometimes I wore it pressed straight, sometimes curled like Shirley Temple. I stained my hair with Kool Aid and quickly graduated to semi permanent and then permanent hair dyes. Over the years I dyed it nearly every color, natural and unnatural.
The Dark Years
It wasn’t until I started completely doing my own hair that my strands began to show signs of weakness. Years of habitual dying, bleaching sessions, and almost daily heat use caused a spiral effect as I took on the steep learning curve of trying to care for my own natural hair.
I became a hair care junkie. I spent countless hours browsing hair forums and snatched up whatever miracle product or supplement I thought would help me. I turned to protective styling a lot, trying out no heat regimens (not practical for me) or wigs (they look so fake on me).
Every time I thought I was getting ahead, I would experience a crazy setback that made me frustrated and disheartened. I eventually shed my obsessed, product junkie ways but I still wasn’t happy. My last setback involved me forgoing my physical and hair health in exchange for smoothed tresses a la Brazilian Keratin Treatments.
Embracing Yourself Is a Form of Self Love
My hair was weak, porous, and super thin by the time I walked away from my relationship with chemical hair straighteners. Instead of diving back into my product junkie ways, I sought out natural products and began to practice patience as I waited for the damage to pass. I started off being very reliant on hair extensions during my transition but even that crutch has been shed over the past several months.
I haven’t worn my hair in this natural of a state since I was a kid. I never would have imagined I’d come full circle. These days my big hair is becoming a signature, whether in a curly fro, puffs, or another style. It’s just another example of taking what you thought was a weakness and turning it into a strength.
The fashion and beauty industries are embracing diversity in a way that makes me feel hopeful for girls who once found it impossible to feel beautiful. Now there are infinite kinds of beauty and I’m making peace with my natural hair among the growing community of black women doing the same.