What I've Learned as a Natural Hair Veteran

My name is Rachel, and I'm what most consider to be a "natural hair veteran." By this I mean I've been a "Naturalista" before it became popular and mainstream. My journey began right after high school over 19 years ago. This was a period in my life where I was trying to finalize what I wanted to be when I grew up! I wasn't sure, but I did know that I was tired of feeling like I needed to fix something about myself in order to fit in.


I was tired of feeling like I needed to fix something about myself in order to fit in.

Every black woman is familiar with the term "new growth." This term refers to the kinky textures that show around the hairline when your perm needs to be touched up. For those that are not familiar, having a touch-up done will make your edges super straight and the kinks gone. I can remember feeling panicky when the kinkiness started to show. I was worried I wouldn't be as attractive, and people would start to talk about me. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and like what I saw looking back at me-- kinks and all. So this led to me cutting all of my relaxed hair off and going natural.


I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and like what I saw looking back at me-- kinks and all.

I had always loved Lisa Bonet and her long dreads, so my first natural hairstyle was locks. This was much to my conservative parent's disdain. Wearing my hair in locks made me feel very proud of my African culture. The fact that I had this hair that could lock and kink and curl into long textured strands of hair made me stand out wherever I went. Soon after wearing my dreads, I was approached to shoot a natural hair campaign. I was surprised and unsure of myself, but quickly said yes. This is where my journey to become a beauty influencer began.

Through out my 20-year natural hair journey, I've worn many natural hairstyles, and as a result, many career opportunities have come my way. I started Chicago's largest natural hair Meetup group, and I have a growing YouTube channel where I review products and share beauty advice. Now that I am a mother of three daughters, my motivation to represent the natural hair community has grown tremendously. I was also inspired due to the fact that multicultural women are very often overlooked and misrepresented in the mainstream media and popular culture. There is still the one "standard" of beauty which typically includes super skinny women, with long weave and sometimes light skin or racially mixed. Don't get me wrong, all women are beautiful, but daily I want my daughters to see that "your beauty and your voice matters."


Stand out and be who you are.

Stand out and be who you are. Society will have no choice but to accept women of all colors with curvy hips and curly hair. I love being a "Naturalista" and I'm grateful for this beautiful journey.

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 -- can be a truly liberating and exciting experience. It's more than just a "trend." It's a way of life. If you have a story you'd like to share, please email us at MyNaturalHairJourney@huffingtonpost.com.