I can remember being 12 and deciding I wanted dread locs, my hair was relaxed at the time and my hairdresser let me know I was going to have to cut the relaxer out my hair in order to begin the process; I didn’t care, I said, “Lets do it”. Unaware of just how much hair would have to be cut off I sat in the chair so eager, so excited and ready to begin my natural hair journey. My stylist spun me around and I took a look in the mirror and began crying, a far off picture from the Lauryn Hill, Goapele vibes I envisioned … I looked more like Samuel L. Jackson.
Hard pill to swallow for a preteen, I was so upset… I felt ugly, I felt I looked like a boy, “What would people say?” , is all I could think. Basically, my dread phase lasted all of 2 days and I convinced my mother to let me get a weave. Whew ! I learned 2 very valuable lessons that day… I was not as confident as I thought, and just as quick as I messed my hair up, I was able to fix it. From that day forward I realized the stress that society placed on me to have “good hair ” was bullshit. Of course it took me a few years to build up the confidence part but by the 10th grade… I was going to the barber every other week, shaving the side of my head and rockin’ designs… that was my Kelis phase. I probably should have learned my lesson after the Lauryn Hill phase but I didn’t. The Kelis cut was cute, the designs allowed me to be creative, to express myself… I even had my name in my head at a point in time. — it was pretty cool.
I think one of the biggest myths surrounding “black hair” is that it doesn’t grow… I don’t know how many bad perm stories I’ve heard and end result for all of those sad stories was, “my hair never grew back”. While that may have been true for many, lets take time to highlight the healthy hair journeys as well. Contrary to the stories, when I cut my hair off it grew back. Being a black woman with healthy hair is possible. After taking time to understand what healthy hair meant, I understood my regimen could look different from by best friends regimen although we are both black women… I discovered its all about doing what works for me. After coming to the conclusion that it was “only hair” I pretty much went scissor crazy every chance I got. Summer was coming, yup time for a cute pixie cut, Winter was coming, time to grow your hair back girl… vacation on the horizon get some braids so the maintenance is low. I never in my life appreciated anything more than having the ability to switch up my look at any given moment, and not only that but having the confidence to do so. When I went through my Britney moment, (yes, here I go with the singer references again) I shaved my head completely bald. Who knows what I was going through at the time, but I was fed up.. I was 19 years old and I walked into a barber shop one day and told them to shave it off… the way the barber looked at me you would have thought I was speaking a different language. He asked me, “Why? why do you want to cut all your hair off?” I simply replied, “Why not”? Although so young, I was so empowered. Being able to take a stand against society’s idea of “beauty” and making it into my own felt good, then to go out and get so many compliments on my rebellious decision felt even better. My hair didn’t define me. Whether I went blonde, red, blue, green, short, or long I still had the same face and that was what made me beautiful, not the hair.
As the years went on so did the many hairstyles, many of which I was able to do myself. Hell, after all the phases I went through I had no choice but to learn to do my own hair because who would have been paying for all those salon visits? At this point my many hair styles almost became a gift and a curse. I’ve become so indecisive it’s hard sticking with one style for a while.– I used to joke with my ex and ask him who he felt like dating this week.– kept him on his toes I guess.
Be willing to take the risk. Try the new hair style, buy the wig, dye your hair the color you’ve been thinking about … worse comes to worse you don’t like it.– Big Deal. Hair has become such an obsession to people its almost comical to me. I say that bearing in mind if any of my friends were to call me and my hair isn’t done I’m not going out, so I get it… hair is a big deal but in the same breath it really isn’t. Women have so many other attributes to focus on besides their hair. It’s funny because I’ve gotten the most compliments from both men and women when I’ve had no hair at all. There have been times I have went out with no hair on my head, no makeup on my face and I was complimented on my features and my uniqueness. Then I think about the times I have paid over $400 for a weave and didn’t get any extra stops at the grocery store. We have literally been conditioned to think that we have to look like the people on TV, as you see from my many references this has gone back a number of years for me personally and it’s so unfortunate. More women need to be comfortable with looking like themselves, I don’t know how many times I’ve been complimented on a style by someone and they followed it up with, “I could never pull that off”.
My favorite response, “You never know unless you try”
So you’re reading this and you’ve been on the fence about trying something new, I hope you go for it.
Thank you for reading,