When people ask me why I decided to go natural I always give a simple answer: “It’s better for my hair” or “I wanted to try something different.”
Although both of these things are true the truth comes from a much deeper place: my insecurities. When I think back to the reason I wanted to get my hair relaxed in the first place it wasn’t because I thought it would look cute or I wanted to try something new. It was because I wanted straight “white girl” hair. I wanted hair that wouldn’t break combs. I wanted hair that people wouldn’t make fun of me for.
I was tired of trying to think of creative ways to tame my hair; I wanted to fix the “problem.” That was my real issue, that I thought my hair was a problem. That I felt like my hair had to be a certain way. That was wrong.
I also had this idea that my insecurities about my hair would go away if I got a perm. I thought if I could just make my hair like everyone else’s I wouldn’t feel ashamed of it anymore. That wasn’t the case. The truth was my hair will never be like “white girl” hair no matter what I do to it.
I couldn’t just go to sleep with my hair anyway and have it look nice when I woke up. I had to wrap it and put a scarf on it before I went to sleep, which of course led to questions like, “Why do you do that with your hair?” or “What is that on your head?” The worst would be when people would take pictures thinking it was a funny style that needed to be shared.
Or when I washed my hair it wasn’t as straight as it was before I washed it. Then there’d be the questions like, “So what does your hair really look like?” or “Do you have to straighten it everyday?” There’d also be the people that thought it would be funny to take pictures of that “style” as well.
Though I think questions about my hair and what makes it different could be fine, I don’t believe my hair should be an exhibit for people. It’s not something you need to take pictures of because you think it’s funny or amusing. However, what I’ve also learned on my hair journey is that there will always be people who don’t understand “black hair.” They won’t understand that we all have different textured hair (even within the black community) and it can sometimes be hard to manage but what I’ve also learned is if someone has a problem with my hair that’s their problem.
What I’ve learned is yes my hair is different and sometimes it can get on my last nerve, especially when I’m trying new styles and it doesn’t come out the way I wanted it to. But it’s my hair. It’s what God has blessed me with and more importantly I love it. I love that I’m learning more about what I can do with it. That I don’t have to just wear the same style all the time because it’s “easy.” I’m finally going to learn how to french braid and cornrow my own hair. I’m trying all these new products that I’ve never heard of before. I’m doing something different not just because I think it’s healthier for my hair but because I’m curious about what I could do.
Most importantly, I’m learning now that there’s this whole community of people who understand the struggle and that I can ask for help and ask questions. I don’t have to be ashamed about not knowing how to do twists or a fancy braid style because there’s a YouTube video about it. There are people who know what it’s like to go through the deep conditioning process and actually know how to use a diffuser to your advantage.
I’ve also learned that although I’m choosing to go natural there’s nothing wrong with having relaxed hair if that’s what I want. There’s nothing wrong with having a weave or locks or twists or braids because the truth is everyone’s hair is their own. You can do what you want with. It’s your choice and no one and nothing should make you feel insecure or ashamed about it. Just make sure you’re doing what’s best for you and your hair.
I’d also like to thank my mom and my friends who have gone natural and have been so bold and inspiring with their hair journey. I don’t think I would have the courage to do what I’m doing now without seeing people go through their own journey before me. So thank you. I hope my journey can be just as inspiring to someone else.