How I am Learning to Embrace my Natural Hair

beautiful funny young afro...
beautiful funny young afro...

As I contemplated taking down the ombre weave I had gotten installed about a month ago, I realized how my sense of self is wrapped up in my hair. To most women, especially black women, hair is a source of pride and creative expression. And I am no different. I love that my hair is so flexible and easy to experiment with. However, I want to look into the mirror and be genuinely proud of my appearance. I also want to feel that nothing is holding me back. So, that's when I had to unveil the truth: Even though I like the versatility of weaves, sometimes I want to take out the extensions and feel whole without them. I had to face the truth of the matter- that one of my biggest insecurities is my hair.

Throughout my entire life, I've had a volatile, abusive relationship with my hair. At the age of six, I was plagued by the terrible Just for Kids lye perm. This altered my curl pattern dramatically; transforming my Cabbage Patch Kid kinks into an unruly mane. Then due to the lack of maintaining my hair, it became brittle and broken. Then came the cruel jokes. I was teased for having short nappy hair, which really weighed on my self-esteem. All I wanted was to fit in. At twelve, I began a long affair with hair extensions: weaves, braids, clip on ponytails, and basically anything other than my own hair to keep me feeling pretty. I was virtually cheating on my hair, since I didn't have the confidence to let it see the light of day.

I can remember many of occasions where I would burst into tears at the sight of my natural hair. To me, it wasn't beautiful. It wasn't silky, Rapunzel length, or loose textured like the cute black girls in the shampoo commercials. It wasn't "good hair". Therefore, I didn't think I was good enough. But, then I saw other black women who were embracing their natural God-given hair. It made me change the way I thought about black hair in general. In the summer of 2013, I decided to do the Big Chop. Doing the Big Chop was liberating but very terrifying. After snipping away bits of my dead relaxed ends and witnessing the beauty of my natural-ness, I still couldn't let go of the extensions. I decided to continue growing my hair under my protective styles. Although it has been thriving, I'd like to wear it out for everyone to admire. One of these days I will.

Learning to love yourself takes a while. It takes determination, courage, and a positive mindset to overcome your insecurities. At least I have taken the first step to healing. I've acknowledged that I indeed have a hair complex spawning from my childhood that needs to be dealt with in order for me to grow as a young woman.

No, I still haven't mastered Bantu knots nor have I fully accepted all the different quirks that come with natural hair, but I am finally learning to love my hair just as I am learning to love the rest of me. Slowly, but surely.