For The Love of Hair | Embracing Your Natural Hair Texture
Over the past few years, women of colour have redefined the standards of beauty dictated by the media. There has been the introduction of more inclusive make-up shades (thank you RihRih!), more representation in ads and television, and a slow but moving shift in cultural perspective. One major shift has been regarding the perception of natural hair.
For decades, society has been led to believe that pin straight hair is the highest standard of beauty. As a result, women of colour have spent countless hours perming or burning natural locs to achieve the sleek tresses that were believed to be better.
Thankfully, perspectives have changed. Now, flat irons have been abandoned in favour of kinky, coily, beautiful curls. Some women have embraced starting over with the big chop; while others have opted to nurse their hair back to health. Regardless of the avenue chosen, there is a renewed appreciation for the beauty in the diversity of natural hair.
As a natural-born curly girl, for as long as I can remember, I’ve hated my hair. I thought it was poofy, and frizzy, and made me look like a poodle. Like many young black girls, I wanted my hair long and straight. Of course, my mom absolutely did NOT share my sentiments. My desperate pleas to perm my curls and get rid of them forever, fell on deaf ears.
So, I leaned on my best friend.
Her name was CHI, she was hot pink, and had a smoking hot temperature of 450 degrees.
For years my straightener was my companion, my solace, and my strength. I know it sounds crazy, but, I idolized it! As a kid, I honestly believed that if my hair could just be straight all the time, my life (and my looks) would 100% improve! My straightener was my ticket to everything I needed.
That feeling of sashaying through the streets and flipping my straight hair over my shoulder gave me confidence. It made me sexy, and mysterious, and I lived for it! No matter how many times my straightener failed me and burned off all of my ends (trust me it was A LOT), it was like a magic wand. It was the fairy godmother that took me from drab to fab in just 4 short hours!
Every 4 days I would plug in my straightener, revel in the smoke that was hot enough to cook meat (literally!), and CRISP my hair. I didn't really care about deep conditioning or using heat protector ( I don't think I even knew about it). All that mattered was having pin straight hair like the girls on T.V.
Like many young women, I spent years living in my own fantasy (well...more like delusion), thinking that my straight hair was fire (I mean I guess it was...ON...fire). When it was straight, it was “long”; and even though it was as dry as a saltine cracker, I believed it looked10x better than the short jerry curls I had when my hair was wet.
That is until 2017…..
That summer, I came across a picture I had taken of myself. I had just come back from the beach and I was sporting my curly hair which, up until that point, had been a rare occurrence. Looking at that photo, it finally hit how horrible my hair actually looked! It was dry, stringy, crisp and extremely short!
It was all the things that I had used straight hair to avoid! In that moment I realized that I was destroying my hair and I needed to stop.
That day, I kissed my straightener goodbye.
For the next year, I focused on hair health. I exercised, ate hair-healthy food, watched countless hours of youtube tutorials on how to take care of my hair and under no circumstance did I use my straightener! The first few months were a struggle because I didn’t know what to do with my hair. But, by month 6 I finally figured out how to manage it. Plot twist --- I actually started to love my hair! I embraced my natural curls and they embraced me!
By 2018, my split and brittle ends were gone and my hair had finally started to grow -- something it had stopped doing years ago!
I actually couldn’t believe how much better it looked!
The one thing I’ve learned through all of this is that when I learned to just accept and love my hair as it is, it started to respond. When I stopped stressing about how it looked, or worrying about making it something it’s not, it began to thrive. I can admit that this journey hasn’t been easy -- sometimes I STILL want to give up, shave it all off and wear wigs forever --- but, learning to love the hair that I was blessed with is a lesson that I will cherish forever.
So, for all of you out there struggling with your own hair journey, here is my best piece of advice: Just relax and embrace whatever stage your hair is at! Once you focus on it’s health and take some of the pressure off, you’ll start to see a huge difference!
Enjoy your journey and remember: Your natural hair is beautiful and it is time we all embrace it!