I actually can’t believe I’m writing this post. Okay, actually I can. My first post in months and I’m discussing one of the things that has caused me so much anxiety – my hair. Admittedly, I’ve had such a love/hate relationship with my hair, particularly in the past five years since I’ve been 100% natural. I, like many black women within the past 10 years have recently discovered the glory of what is our natural hair. Obviously there were many natural black women prior to 1o years ago, but within the past 10 years I think we all can agree that there has been a boom in the natural hair world. In fact, most of my friends are natural now and that was just not the case 10 years ago.
I went natural five years ago simply because I wanted to see what my natural hair looked like. That’s it. It was that simple. This idea was so shocking to my non-black friends because they could not believe that I really didn’t know what my natural hair looked like. I’ve seen it in pictures from when I was younger, but for the most part, I can really only remember my hair being relaxed. So, I set upon my mission to see what exactly my hair looked like without chemically processing it. I did a “big chop” of sorts, although my relaxed hair was already short. The length change wasn’t as shocking to me as much as adjusting to my texture. I loved & missed my short, STRAIGHT hair and so I immediately felt exposed.
I immersed myself into the natural hair community watching videos of Taren Guy and others, praying that once my hair grew out that it would be the crown of curls that I desired. I tried all types of products and avoided taking as many pictures as possible during my first year natural. Even after one year with obvious growth I still was not comfortable with my hair. It’s crazy that someone can feel so insecure simply wearing their hair the way it naturally grows from their head. It’s incredibly heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time.
Within the past five years I have straightened(as in blow out) and cut my hair more times than I can remember. The blowouts caused my hair irreversible damage, forcing me to “big chop” a second time. I’ve fought hard and successfully won my internal war to relax my hair and be done with this natural thing once and for all. I found a short hairstyle that I liked and have been rockin’ with that for the majority of my natural journey. But even with the occasional good hair days and receiving compliments on my hair, I never really learned to love it. Yes, I’ve cared enough about it to have spent hundreds of dollars on maintaining it(Devachan salon visits and trying multiple hair products), but my true feelings for my hair have pretty much been indifferent.
This may be confusing for some to understand but I actually have been hiding behind my short cut(I know for most people it’s the opposite). I’ve always felt like I looked best with short hair but every once in a while, I’ve wondered what it to be like to have long, natural hair. After all, I never really gave myself much of a chance to see what it would look like. I never had the patience to love on my hair enough to let it just grow out.
Most recently though I’ve had the sudden urge to shave all of my hair off. I’ve seen so many beautiful women rock no hair and I’ve been tempted to do the same. For me, it would almost be a rebellion. A protest to say out to the world, “Hey world! I am NOT my hair!!! Screw all these hair products! Screw all this shrinkage! Forget all this hair envy on IG!”.
But as I thought about it, shaving all my hair off would be an easy way out of loving a part of me that I’ve haven’t been crazy about for the past four years. I would still be avoiding something that made me feel insecure – GROWING my hair out instead of chopping it off every chance I can get. I’ve dreaded going through the awkward stage because of fear that I would look unattractive(yes, I know it sounds silly and incredibly superficial).
But, as I evaluate my life in all aspects, I am on journey in which I have to let go of certain mentalities. I have to challenge myself to be uncomfortable, including my hair. Instead of breaking free of my hair and running away from it by chopping it all off, maybe the lesson I really need to learn is to love it, nurture it, and just LET IT GROW.
I am now on a journey on loving my hair. I’ve been natural for the past five years, but I’ve never EMBRACED it. I’m committed to figuring this thing out and learning how to grow healthy, natural hair that I love because it’s mine. This grow out stage is less about length and more about love.
However, if I decide one day to change my hair, whether to cut it or relax it, it will never again be because I hate my hair or I feel more attractive with it another way. It will be because I’m truly ready for something new.
I leave you with Solange Knowles’, “Don’t Touch My Hair” because, it’s pretty much the current theme song for every woman I know. Also, the OG of hair anthems, India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair”.
At the end of the day, whether we have no hair, short hair, long hair, straight hair, curly or kinky hair, we should love our hair but never be solely defined by it.