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Life > Experiences

My Hair Journey as a Black Girl

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bradley U chapter.

When I was a little girl, around the age of five or six, I would wear my own hair to school. My hair was long and full. I remember owning my crown as a little girl, although I didn’t know it at that time. Back when I was at summer camp, the kids would bring water guns and water balloons and run through sprinklers. I told everyone that if they got my hair wet that there was going to be a problem. I didn’t know how much the love for my hair would change when I started going to white public schools.

Once I started attending white public schools, I wondered why my hair was different; why the texture was different; why it didn’t move like white little girls’ hair did; and why it somehow determined my beauty. I begged my mom to make my hair straight or to put extensions into it; however, I would soon learn the hard way that extensions fall out. After damaging my hair to fit in, I just started keeping extensions in.

While using extensions, I found my love for braids. Braided styles are so unique and beautiful. They can be traced back to thousands of years ago and were used for many reasons. They were worn by slaves to hide food, rice in particular, since they were not given enough food. They were also worn to show what tribe you were a part of. In some cases, just by looking at someone’s braids, you could tell everything you needed to know about them: if they were married, their age, wealth or religion. It was often seen as a form of art, and they should continue to be respected as such. I didn’t know any of this when I started wearing braids, but braids began to help me love my hair again.

In sixth grade, while I was walking through the halls, one of my braids fell out. The kids laughed at me for the rest of the day. They picked up the braid and threw it all over the hallway. There was only one person who was there for me, but even they couldn’t fully understand what I was going through because they were white. No one around me at that point was ever in my shoes and never had to think about being there. I cried and could not believe that a piece of hair that was somehow connected to my head fell out. I tried to avoid everyone and would deflect in any way possible. I was ashamed by the way I had reacted. I was upset that I didn’t — that I couldn’t — stand up for myself. Come to find out, my hair had been over processed by someone who did not know how my hair texture needed to be cared for. On the back of my head, almost all my hair had fallen out. I couldn’t even add extensions to it for a while. This was a very rough time in my life considering I thought my hair determined my beauty.

Once my hair started to regrow, I wore extensions for a majority of my time in middle school, but in high school is when I really started to experiment. My sophomore year of high school, I started to wear weaves, wigs, and anything else I could get my hands on. I started to understand that being a black girl means I can change my hair when I want and how I want. I used to go out of my way to make sure no one would see me if my hair wasn’t done. However, once I started to understand the history of what black people went through and what we still have to go through in today’s world, I started to care less about what others thought.

Then, my senior year of high school, I found out what faux locs were. I fell in love with that style but continued to change my hair because I have that freedom. Now, I am a college freshman starting my second semester at Bradley University. I have tried so many different things, but I know there is still more to try. I have learned how to embrace my hair, whether it’s by wearing locs, braids, wigs, weaves or even my natural hair.

I finally found the love for my hair that I had so many years ago. I know what protective styles work for me and what products work for my hair texture. I have found my black hair crown once again.

Jasmyn Burton

Bradley U '26

I am a freshman theater performance major, thinking about minoring in African American and music studies. I joined her campus because I wanted an outlet to write more about what I want instead of the essays we are forced to write in college. I plan to stay in Her Campus for my full college career.