My relationship with my hair has been confusing since I can remember. From a young age, my mother kept my hair in cornrows, and I can still recall setting up a pillow in front of the couch so she could braid my hair. *insert nostalgia* I can’t remember a time when my hair was in any other style in elementary school. Except for picture day, the day my hair would be styled with a hot comb (obligatory cringe from trauma), so I would be ‘presentable’.
Eventually, my mom got tired of the constant braiding every week, mainly due to the fact I was a tom-boy, so they would frizz up quickly. Then we made a trip to my aunt’s house, ahh- the hairdressing relative that would soon be my go-to hairstylist for every event.
My first perm opened my eyes to another world, a painful, yet silky-smooth world. The following years were very confusing when I started to receive attention for looking ‘exotic.’ I had always been light in complexion (excluding a good vacation tan), and my hazel eyes, along with straight light brown hair, was somehow confusing for people. I have been mistaken for seemingly everything other than what I am. Internally I began to like the comments as if being labeled as ‘other’ was something to pride myself on. At the time, I wasn’t educated enough to reject or question the basis of the ‘compliments.’
Then the 2010’s natural hair movement started to pick up. I was getting tired of getting my hair permed, not because of the result but really because I was lazy and didn’t like the upkeep. I was curious about natural hair; at this time, I had no real memory of what my actual hair texture felt or looked like (other than times I needed a touch-up). Upon mentioning my curiosity to my mom and aunt, I was humorously told I would not like the outcome, and my hair would be nappy. But by this time, I was in high school, and my mom finally responded with, “you can go natural if you want to, but you’re doing your own hair.” That was all I needed.
Now I’m not going to lie and say from then on, I was a natural hair guru because I struggle(d). In 2016 I buzzed my hair off (I was not with the transitioning look) and was happy to feel curls on my head for the first time. But then came the awkward growing ‘fro faze, and I looked like somebody’s uncle in the 70’s. So I stuck with a buzz cut and started experimenting with wigs and coloring. I loved not having to style my hair every day, especially after having no idea what to do with my hair.
Eventually, I realized my buzz cut was a fear-based decision, I felt lost even after diving into the natural hair youtube tutorial world. I decided to grow my hair out again, which somehow led me to have a frohawk. After realizing that I would have to grow out my sides awkwardly, I decided that I would fully commit to the health of my hair.
That was a year ago. I’ve gained an appreciation for my thick mixed-curl patterned hair. After reassessing my techniques, products, and priorities, I can now say that my hair is the best its ever been. I learned what my hair responds to best and how to effectively moisturize my hair (because chile it was dry as a bone at the beginning).