My Love/Hate Relationship with my Natural Hair
Back in 2006, India Arie released the popular song "I Am Not My Hair" that resonated with many women. Although I am a fan of Arie and the song, I have to disagree with that statement. My hair actually defines who I am and who I will be for that following day. If I wear my hair in a braid out, then I am a afrocentric goddess, if it's straight and sleek then I am a sexy model and if it's pulled back in a ponytail then I am a bum.
Growing up, I've always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. My mom put a relaxer in my hair when I was in the 2nd/3rd grade because I was extremely frighten of the hot comb, but as I got older, I realized that my hair was short, thin and jagged (just like many of my counterparts.) I still thought I was "cute" and I would always try to wear my hair down, purposely ignoring my mom's cry to wear it up in a style. But I was always so intrigued with the long, straight hair look. It was just so appealing to me and everyone was wearing their hair like that. From my favorite singer Aaliyah to even my mom, who I sometimes envied how easily her hair would become silky straight with one touch of the flat iron (and revert back to curls that you can smoothly run your fingers through). Now whether or not, I was being brainwashed by society's beauty standards, I cannot say, I just knew that that style was something I always wanted. It was something I wanted my hair to do.
As I got older and really began to pay attention to my hair, I realized that it was not growing and my stylist kept chopping off my "split ends," so I decided to go natural. I was a junior in high school (2007-2008) when the natural movement was in its beginning stages. I knew it was something I had to do and I did with no hesitation. I wore weaves and braids until I grew the relaxer out and out sprouted my natural curls. Prior to that, the only time my hair would curl was when it was wet. It was very hard getting use to my natural coils. I was never a hairstylist or even had the basic skills of styling, so learning how to take care of my natural hair and style my hair was a whole new thing for me. People were praising me for going natural, but neglected to tell me how difficult it was to maintain the life of the hair.
When I reached college, I was still putting my hair in weaves and I dyed it, which led to my hair thinning yet again and I had to grow the color out. Thankfully, being at a HBCU, you were in a community with a lot of other naturalistas who identified with your struggle. Fast forward to present day, I have a newfound love and appreciation for my hair. We have gone through countless ups and downs so I think it's safe to say that I know what not to do with my hair. I even prefer my hair in natural curls or protective styles, but not hair weaves. I had to let that go.
My hair and I have real history and yes, at times I still become frustrated with my hair when it doesn't do what I want it to do, however, I respect. Your hair is your crown and no disrespect to Ms. Arie because she is bomb, I believe hair is a part of who you are and once you nurture that relationship, you become one with it.