There’s an old millennial myth that goes something along the lines of “Those who have straight hair want curly hair and those who have curly hair want straight hair.” Newsflash, it’s totally true. I was born of biracial decent so lucky for me, my hair has no idea what it wants….ever. I cried every time the word “brush” was said and when it came to the question of getting braids, I ran for the hills. I looked at my friends around me, in envy of their pin straight hair that fell so lightly. They could wear hats without looking like they were hiding something within it and they could do cute french braids and wear cute bangs whenever they felt like it.
Finally around middle school, my mom let me get my first relaxation treatment. This concoction was liquid gold to my ears. After the burning sensation had passed and it was rinsed and styled, I practically never stopped looking in the mirror, gazing at my now, flat hair. My friends complimented me and I loved every second of that month it lasted before my hair returned to it’s mane style.
I continued getting treatments and I was thrilled with each result, until that horrible experience in 7th grade. I went in for a relaxation treatment and it all went well. Though after my weeks of perm had passed, I went to wash my hair and the scariest thing happened. In chucks, my beautiful hair began to fall onto the bathtub floor. I shrieked for my mother, drenched in a mixture of water and tears. After she calmed me down, I finished washing my hair and we blow dyed it to see the damage. It was devastating, I didn’t want to leave my house, my hair was at tons of different lengths and I don’t remember a night I fell asleep without crying for at least a week.
As the new growth came in, my friends pulled me through the worst of the bullying and awkwardness of my ponytails for the next year. I went to a dark place at times but they always pulled me back up, reminding me of how far it’d come and how beautiful it will be if I just wait and see.
As the years went on, my hair grew painfully slow.
I became accustomed to just throwing my hair in a bun and promising the world I would never wear it down again. My friends understood and supported me through my angst. In junior year of high school, I underwent a relaxing treatment yet again and the hairdresser questioned my new growth and asked me if i’d like to chop it all to that length. My answer was simply no, without hesitation.
The treatment came out fine, my hair seem to appear like it was in layers at worst. My friends yet again boosted my confidence and encouraged me through everything. I was finally okay with my hair…but not my curls. When my hair wasn’t relaxed, I still pulled it back in a bun to hide my natural hair from the world. People asked what my hair looked like down and requested that I let them play with it. To each I said no and continued on my way, envying everyone else with their still pin straight hair and even length.
College came around and I was still in the habit of doing this, one night a friend saw my hair down, curly and fresh out of the shower. She asked my why I never wore it down and I told her “trust me, no one needs to see that” and she didn’t ask again. As the year went on, I grew more and more into myself within the fashion world.
I saw that hats were a popular trend and many African American women were going forward with their natural look. I was awestruck, never had I even thought about wearing my hair down that confidently. To my surprise, the more and more I looked in the mirror, I actually began to see something I liked. My hair was never going to be prefect, my hair was never going to be even but that’s what made it uniquely mine. I became more confident in the way I looked with my natural look and now it’s almost always my go to look.
My advice to girls who understood any little part of my story….don’t let your hair being “different” get you down. This thing you hold, it is so perfectly unique. Whether it’s straight or curly, thick or thin….own your natural hair. Maybe for an hour or a day at first but I promise, it will grow on you and you won’t be able to stop smiling about it.