No matter how unattractive I felt, I always had my hair to fall back on.
Black, long, thick, and curly, I loved my hair.
Well, I loved it when I straightened it.
I constantly took the flat iron to it to showcase its length. Straightening my hair became an everyday thing for me, which would later come back to bite me.
As I grew up, the people around me did my hair. I never learned to take care of my natural hair, because I honestly saw it as a chore. I heard them say how thick it was and how long it takes to do. My hair broke many combs, hair ties, and rubber bands. Then came the trips to the hair store to buy more conditioner because I used most of it the last time I got my hair washed.
I felt like my hair was unmanageable because that’s what I was shown. All of the things I heard stuck with me.
Then, I remember at the age of 12 I got my first relaxer.
“Tell me when it burns so we can wash it out.”
I sat there waiting on the burn complaining about how much the relaxer stunk. Suddenly I couldn’t complain anymore, I felt that burn and ran into the kitchen. I soon felt the relief of cool water on my scalp. After the wash, I noticed my hair wasn’t as full as it usually is. I didn’t care, I was happy that my hair would be easier for people to do.
As I sat in between her legs ready to get my hair braided or put in ponytails, I noticed how fast my ponytail was finished and how sleek it was. Not only was I impressed, but so were the people around me. The compliments I received were nothing like before.
I didn’t know it then, but this led to me equating my hair with my beauty.
I didn’t have to straighten my hair as much anymore, but I did receive relaxers regularly to keep my hair “manageable.” Years went by with the same routine.
Before I knew it, the summer before my sophomore year arrived. I received the news I was going away for the summer. Little did I know this event would be life-changing.
I arrived at my grandmother’s house with some clothes, a headscarf and of course my beloved headbands. I didn’t think about if she had a flat iron or not, I was just excited to be there for the summer.
After being there for a few weeks I asked for shampoo. She gave me some and I washed my hair. I noticed my hair was curlier than it normally is and I realized it was time for another relaxer. But since I was away, I knew I wouldn’t be receiving one, so I decided to just throw my hair up in a bun every day.
Soon, the end of summer came. I said goodbye to my grandma and went home to prepare for my sophomore year of high school.
Upon arriving home I realized I couldn’t take my comb through my hair. I actually couldn’t get my finger through it either. It also looked thinner.
I showed this to my guardian and she told me to sit down and she’ll comb through it for me. I heard her gasp as she examined my hair, and I knew it was going to be bad.
My hair was matted. By the time she finished combing through it, my hair stopped at the base of my neck. After this combing, I had to receive a cut which made the length of my hair even shorter. I was devastated. As I looked in the mirror, I cried. I felt like I wasn’t beautiful anymore.
Since my hair was so short, I straightened it to try to enhance the length. I did this for months after the ordeal of cutting it. But then I realized more of my hair was falling out from so much heat. I decided to take it to YouTube to learn how to take care of my hair and grow it back healthily. This is where I discovered curl patterns, hair types, and even styles for natural hair. I cut the straight pieces of my hair off little by little and began my transition.
During this time of having short hair, I began to notice my facial features more, and how beautiful they are. I noticed my heart and how beautiful it is. I was beautiful with straight hair, short hair, curls, long hair, no hair.
And I realized society puts so much pressure on women to have long hair, or hair in general. They don’t realize women don’t need hair to be beautiful, all they need is their heart.