Disclaimer- Since this can be a touchy topic for many, and because some of what I might have to say might not sit well with all my readers I would like to say before I begin that all views I express in this post are solely my own. I personally do not judge and/or care how others choose to wear their hair!
I hope you all enjoy, please feel free to leave comments, questions, or concerns below!!!
For the past week and a half I have been asked the same two questions so many times that I have actually lost count. The first question “Are you ready to move to Chicago?” can usually be answered in a short sweet sentence, but the second question has not been that easy to answer. The question of “What did you do to your hair?”, or “Why did you do that to your hair?” has been difficult to answer because I cannot sum up my answer in a short sweet sentence. If you don’t know, or have not seen me in a while let me fill you in. I have recently made the decision to wear my hair completely natural (No perm, weaves, or extensions). I wish I could say that I just woke up one morning and decided to rock my natural God given curls, but it was not that easy. My decision to “Go natural” stems from so many different reasons.
Many of us at some point in our lives have struggled with some type of insecurity, insecurities that can span from our weight, facial features, complexion, or height. For me one of my only and biggest insecurities has for MANY years been my hair. Growing up my hair has always been somewhat of an issue for me (this is the first time that I am actually admitting this). As a little girl I was never really satisfied with the length of my hair, its texture, or the methods of care my mother chose to use when it came to dealing with my hair. I can remember vividly several occasions when I became so frustrated about something having to do with my hair, even to the point where my frustration would turn to secret tears. For years my hair routine was the same, a wash on Friday nights followed by china bumps for church on Saturday, and cornrows on Sunday (Thanks to my cousin Tamika). If for some reason I could not get my weekly cornrows my mother would do her best with my collection of what seemed to be hundreds of bubbles and clips or her version of cornrows, little plaits (braids) that she would connect all over my head. As I got older and tired of dealing with styles that I HATED, and more and more desperate to achieve what I thought was the perfect hair style I became a master at putting in my own extensions (cornrows, and Braids with added hair for length). I would spend HOURS in front of the mirror trying new styles (usually consulting with Ashley..Hi Ashley!!). To say the least I was never able to achieve what I was ultimately going for. Now don’t get me wrong I did not spend every hour of every day obsessing about my hair because after a while my insecurities about my hair became somewhat unconscious, something that I was able to deal with, and of course my hair was for the most part was decent enough to step out into public with.
Since the rule in my house was no perms until I was 16 when I got tired of doing my own hair my parents began to fund what eventually turned into an unhealthy obsession. I wore braids from the 8th or 9th grade until the second half of my senior year in high school, NEVER once stopping to give my hair at least a 48 hr breather. Ready and somewhat desperate for a new look I received my first perm in my bedroom on a Sunday night by my best friend (Thereziii!!). Shortly after my first perm I discovered what I thought was the wonderful world of ponytails and weaves (straight, short, long, curly, black, brown, you get the point), and boy did I LOVE my weaves, unfortunately my hair did not. I watched as it broke, and became so unhealthy in the span of two short years. So back to my braids I went!
Although by the time I entered college I rarely thought about my insecurities with my hair, deep down inside I still knew they existed. It really hit me how big of a deal my hair was to my identity when I began to prepare for my graduate school interviews. Although I had been perm less for awhile, and completely satisfied with my transition back to my natural hair and my braids I seriously toyed with the idea of getting a perm and weave JUST for my interviews. I seriously wondered if my hair would play a major role in if I was accepted into graduate school or not. It was at that point when I really began to think about and tackle the reasons why my hair was always such an issue for me, and so many of the many Black women I surround myself with. For centuries Black women all over the world (MYSELF INCLUDED) have tried our hardest to conform to European standards of beauty. Standards that we have been socialized to believe are the norm. As a result we develop insecurities about what we have all been naturally BLESSED with, and very often find it extremely difficult to embrace ourselves for who we truly are; unfortunately due to our own insecurities we fail to teach our children to love and accept themselves for who they are.
After a lot of reflecting and research I realized that it was time for me to make a major change in the way I viewed and treated my hair, and as a result I spent the summer mentally preparing for what I now call my “free” look (My mental preparation is a whole other Post in itself). To say the least it was NOT an easy decision, it took a lot of Soul searching, doubts, fears, and revelations. But here I am today, learning to love my new look!
What has been most interesting about the past few days are the many different reactions to my new look. The wide range of reactions began before I even left the hair salon after a wash and trim, the lady who did my hair could not understand why I wanted to leave her salon with my hair looking “like that” and seemed to be a little frustrated when I told her numerous times that I did not need her to blow my hair out bone straight. The reactions to my hair have included statements such “Can I touch It?”, “You actually have hair”, “Congratulations”, “You Look Weird”, “It’s cute”, “Wow”, “I love It”, and “I’m going to have to get used to this!” Numerous people come up to me singing their best rendition of India Arie’s “I am not My Hair”, and of course I have gotten people who have just been silent. My father who would never come out and say he is not feeling my new look has made it pretty clear how is feels about my hair by his extra long glances, and questions such as “ is that all your going to do with your hair”. Now I must admit that a few years ago, or maybe even a few months ago the negative comments might not have been so easy to swallow, but today it really does not matter, nor do I care what other people think or have to say about how I choose to wear my hair. I know that my transition to the “natural world” is NO where near complete, and that I still have a ways to go before I can fully appreciate and get used to handling my hair in its natural state, but Today I can confidently say that I am content with my decision!
Not looking for approval…Simply Just…Being me.