The Conceited Natural: Finding and Embracing Confidence

My hair is a 4a/4b mix of unpredictable temperament.

It’s prone to shrinkage and fairy-knotting. It is reluctant to part with itself and locks shed hairs into impossible embraces that I must coax apart with great patience and too much conditioner. It drinks down product like a lush and then still has the nerve to be inconsistent -- styling will yield vivacious, curvy curls that can either last for days or melt into a lazy puff within the hour. According to my mother it needs a good pruning.

Regardless, I'm hopelessly in love with every last inch of it.

Admittedly, much of that love is just vanity. I like the way my hair looks. On a deeper level, I find it satisfying that this vanity is even possible. Souls don't age like bodies and so even at 26, I could still also be the 8-year-old longing for fine hair that drops at the behest of gravity or allows itself to be buffeted about by breeze. I could still be the 16-year-old who glories in finally being able to blow bangs off her face, tuck strands behind her ears, and flick the entire black sheet of it off her shoulders like the protagonist of a YA novel. I could still be the twenty-year-old attempting to perform desire the way women do on TV -- with a whipping back of the head for a showy display of cascading straightness. Images on screen and in books seem to teach that this is how beautiful, sexy, feminine hair behaves. It waterfalls over shoulders. It submits more easily to force. I remember wanting that instead of the hair that springs, radiates, billows, and blooms naturally from my scalp. I remember transitioning for a year and a half, cutting off all of the relaxed ends, and still wondering if what I was born with could actually be enough -- for myself and everyone else. Loved ones wanted to know what I planned to do with it. An old crush took me to the movies and waited until it went dark to whisper "I liked it better straight." Through this, I cradled an ego that has always bruised a bit too easily. I had to learn to source my confidence and concept of beauty from more constructive places than mainstream media and realize that those images never had anything to do with me. They weren't for me or about me. I had already turned to the natural hair community online, but I also had to step up and define things for myself. What was beautiful to me? How did I want to look? Harnessing that power to decide what was beautiful on my own terms was the key to falling so deeply in love with my hair. In that way, the vanity feels somewhat like growth.  

 

I feel sexiest when my hair is taking up as much room as possible.

Nowadays I feel sexiest when my hair is taking up as much room as possible. I like to twist it out, pile it all atop my skull and pick the roots for extra height. I find myself loving on it often -- habitually reaching to tease stray spirals or bury my fingertips into the thicket of roots in back. Underneath this crown of kinks and curls, I look and feel most like me. It is well worth the work on wash day to feel so good about that.