Friday, July 30, 2010

I Finally Love My Hair

I had very short hair when I was a kid because my mother decided to perm my hair when I was 4. She cried after it fell out but it didn't stop her from perming it again while I was in elementary school.

 I was NEVER allowed to touch my hair at all after that because it was her own little mission to grow my hair back. I always wanted to have bangs but my mother forbid it. I'd get in trouble all the times because my mother would catch me in the bathroom with scissors in hands trying to cut my hair myself (I was a rebellious child). Then I started to notice that my best friend had beautiful long, thick, coal black hair. I wanted hair like hers. Her mother told my mother of another lady who pressed her but she used marcel irons instead of the dreaded hot comb. She even mixed up her own hair grease! This lady was notorious in town because she had "growing hands" as the old folks called it. She had the ability to grow every little black girls hair she touched. I was 11 then. I had my hair pressed every two weeks. Every time she'd press my hair, she would clip a little bit of my relaxed ends off. Soon I was completely relaxer free and had long hair.

Everyone loved my hair. Old women would compliment my mother on how long her daughter's hair was and how "coal black" it was (I guess that was a sign of healthy hair). I honestly hated getting my hair pressed. I had long hair now so I began to wean away from the presses by getting my hair braided up during the summer just so I could swim in peace without hearing my mother's mouth. I grew tired of my greasy hair as I entered middle school as well. I wanted my hair to swing like my white classmates and never understood why my hair never seemed to hold a curl and was so thin & limp looking. Of course the only remedy I could come up with was to get another relaxer. My own choice! I was in the 8th grade now AND a cheerleader so I should be able to make my own decisions. So I got another relaxer. A couple of months later my mother finally let me get my hair cut in cute layers so my hair was just past my shoulders. I LOVED it! I took so many pictures that day because my hair was so bouncy and shiny. I had white girl hair! It looked so good that soon all of my friends said that I thought I was "All That" because I got my hair done. I didn't care though because I looked good.

In high school I finally had more control over my hair. I cut it all the time so it never really grew past shoulder length. I even go the bangs I longed for. I wore bangs all through high school but something else happened. My hair stopped growing. I even stopped cutting my hair but it just continued to break off. To hide the fact that my hair wasn't growing every year I'd just cut it a bit shorter. By senior year my hair was barely past my chin! Then came my addiction to weave. It looked so good most people didn't even realize it was fake. I faked my short hairedness until I went to college.

I was in Atlanta with barely any money (spent most of it ordering out and shopping) so of course my hair was barely done. With relaxed hair you just can't skip out on the shop as I did so of course my hair still broke off. Luckily I found a chick on campus who did $30 sew ins so I was in heaven for awhile until I couldn't even afford that. I wore my hair "natural" like for two days in Atlanta by not flat ironing it after I washed it so everyone saw my wavy hair and asked "what happened?" Guys even called me mother earth & Jill Scott & Ms. Afrocentric and of course I quickly straightened my hair. One guy who I was so in love with (or so I though) even told me that I wasn't pretty with my short hair. He preferred me with long weave and asked me why I didn't grow my hair out. This was the final straw. On October 10, 2008 I went to the beauty shop and decided to cut all of my hair off like Rihanna just to prove to him and everyone else that I was indeed beautiful with short hair.

That same month I learned that my friend Megan had a form of alopecia caused my relaxers and heat damaged and had began balding at the age of 20! Then I learned that I'd have to get my hair "touched up" every 2 weeks now since it was cut short. I was certain that I'd eventually go bald too! Luckily Megan decided that she was going to "go natural" and read online about all these ways to transition and even joined a few sites. I didn't get my hair relaxed again but I still kept it up by getting the back shaved completely off and letting the front grow out since it was easier to straighten.

By April of 2009, the flat ironing went out the window. I washed my hair one day and felt the cutest spirals forming where I'd shaved my hair off! It was beautiful! I went into the bathroom, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the majority of my relaxed ends off. No thought at all. I was completely natural after 6 months of unintentional transitioning.

My mother hated my natural hair. She didn't understand why I wouldn't perm it. She even told me I wouldn't go bald but her thinning crown made me think otherwise. My dad didn't like the fact that my hair wasn't "done". They even asked me did I turn into a lesbian at college because I wore my hair in a short fro. To appease my mother I picked up a hot comb and slathered greased all over my hair and tried to press it myself. The results were horrible. My hair was fried! I literally saw clumps of hair fall out as I tried to press it. I ended up having to cut my hair even shorter in the front to get rid of the damage. Someone then convinced me to get a wavy weave since I loved my curls so much. I did and I got so many compliments. My parents exclaimed "We have our daughter back" and guys began to talk to me more but I hated the weave after two weeks so I took it down again. No one understood why I would purposely not look my best.

For a few months I didn't like to go out anywhere. I didn't feel pretty and the people around me made sure of it. I heard the meanest things from people. Someone even wrote an anonymous message to me saying something along the lines of "why are you trying to go natural? You don't have GOOD Hair! You're not mixed!" After that when I was so close to relaxing my hair again I visited my friend back in Atlanta with natural hair. By then I had another long weave in. My friend had recently BC'd and her hair was gorgeous! It was so thick and we began to talk about our hair and how people react to us now. She was absolutely stunning to me. She owned her naturalness and I felt like maybe I should too. My last day at her house I decided to take down my weave and let her see my real hair. She inspired me so much. I felt like I didn't have to hide my natural hair anymore. She was basically forced to go natural and she embraced it.. Why couldn't I embrace it by choice?

I am proud to say that after two years of intense soul searching I finally love all of me- including my hair. I love the different textures. I love that people stop me and question me about my hair. I love the fact that some even think its a weave or that I have some sort of chemicals in it to make it look curly. No, its 100% me. I wish that I would have embraced it earlier because my hair has suffered a lot of damage from lack of care on my part. I have horrible split ends that I must deal with now and of course the front is growing at a faster rate than the back-- but I love it. I've even inspired other girls in my small Texas town to put down the creamy crack and embrace their natural, nappy roots.

Now, this doesn't mean that I have thrown away my flat iron and weave collection. I still plan on doing that after I've become bored with my twist outs. I just now know how to properly care for my hair. Natural hair isn't always healthy hair and that is the main thing I had to learn. I have experienced so much growth but I can only imagine the outcome if I'd done more protective styles and not slept with my hair out every night and actually used products that were designed to cater to natural hair. I even altered my diet because that affects your hair as well as the rest of your body. I don't know where I'd be if it weren't for sites like!

Its a journey but I love it. I stand out now. Guys actually approach me and compliment my hair more because I embrace all of me. Confidence is key. If you love your natural hair and yourself, nothing that anyone says can ever make you feel unpretty. :)

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