Your Natural Hair Shouldn’t be A Mystery
I heard this saying a few times growing up, and while it is a gross generalization, I found it vaguely true. My Caucasian friends would obsess over body types and “skinniness” while my Black friends would watch the sky like a dual Doppler radar, fleeing at the first drop of rain that may ruin their blowout or weave. On the flip side, I grew up home-schooled and an athlete. After i wasn’t hunched over books, I used to be running track or spending hours on the golf course practicing. My hair was the least of my worries. My mom gave me a few relaxers a year. I slapped a baseball cap over my ponytail, and was out the door, with fairly thick hair right down to my neck.
However, with college came stress, and the pressure to “look nice” at all times. Popular images and my very own family had taught me that looking nice = completely straight hair. I used more heat products, and with such a busy schedule, rarely spent time wrapping it properly every night. Before I knew it, my hair was breaking off in the back. I began to do “no heat summers” for the three months I used to be home from school and only used two relaxers a year: one in the beginning of every semester. By junior year I was back to my old length. I began studying natural hair and transitioning, which was more appealing than the massive chop. I decided to make the leap for one very specific reason: Your body should not be a mystery.
I realized that I didn’t know what my very own hair was like. I had no idea what my curl pattern was. Yes, I had a thick, dense mane, but was it curly Kinky Black or brown I knew what every inch of my body looked like apart from the one thing I styled every morning: my hair. Suddenly, the very strands growing from my head did not feel like my own; they felt very very like an impostor, and that i did not prefer it. Chemically straightening it felt like I was altering my body after i didn’t need to, once i didn’t actually have a reason. I would spent my entire life from age seven until that time learning to look like a commercialized Western ideal of beauty, without ever knowing my true appearance.
It has been two years since my final relaxer and 16 months since my big chop and I couldn’t be happier! Seeing my thick, dense, coarse and kinky hair was like meeting myself for the first time. My hair is a lovely deep black — nowhere near the sunshine brown, reddish color I’d always believed it to be. For most of my life I assumed my hair had to be straight to be pretty, but the more I spend time with my tresses, the more I realize those thoughts were wrong. It is rewarding to be happy with who you might be and my hair is a thousand times healthier!
P E R M I S S I O N T O 💜 S E L F ➡ 🔑 A photograph posted by Candace (@aceisjoy) on Jun 6, 2016 at 9:03pm PDT
The single most important thing to do when you’re going natural for the first time is follow women which have YOUR hair texture. If you happen to think joining the natural movement is an exemption card from texture discrimination, think again. I wish we were more accepting within this movement, but it’s difficult to search out individuals who embrace kinky hair istayl textures. The natural world loves long flowing Type 3 corkscrews, which may be very uncommon if you are not of mixed heritage, and may easily discourage you. Do some Type 4 searches and learn to rock beautiful styles that fit your personality.
A photo posted by Candace (@aceisjoy) on Mar 5, 2016 at 10:27am PST
I’m encouraged that so many women are returning to their natural hair, because it could have a positive impact on our daughters. It is refreshing to see women refusing to relax their daughters’ hair in an effort to “tame” it, as if their hair is a disobedient child having a temper tantrum. We need to boost a generation of women who grow up loving and caring for themselves properly – not morphing into an idea that mainstream media handed them without so much as a choice to opt-in or opt-out. Never make your hair a secret — especially to yourself.
This post is part of HuffPost’s My Natural Hair Journey blog series. Embracing one’s natural hair — especially after years of heavily styling it — is usually a truly liberating and exciting experience. It’s more than only a “trend.” It is a way of life. When you’ve got a story you’d prefer to share, please email us at MyNaturalHairJourney@huffingtonpost.com.