When I was a child, my dad bought me a Hannah Montana wig, and it was one of the happiest days of my life. Once he handed me the wig, I ran up to the mirror and immediately started to dance. Although I looked ridiculous in it, I was able to pretend that I was what I always wanted to be as a child: beautiful.
Throughout my life, I have been ashamed of the way my hair looked. As a young child, I always wanted pin-straight, long hair. And attending a predominantly white school did not make it any easier. Through being the only Black kid in many of my classes, I was constantly surrounded by what I was unable to have: straight hair.
For the longest time, my hair has always been something to conceal and hide from others. Whether it was in buns, braids, or straightened, I had always been conditioned by society to hide my hair from others. The media has consistently shown me that Black hair was not beautiful enough. I would shift through the TV channels and see the same thing each time: long, pin-straight hair.
This is what is beautiful. If I straighten my own hair, I will be just as beautiful.
This led me to consistently straighten my hair every day for three years. Once I realized how damaged my curls were, I decided to take another route and wear my hair naturally.
I constantly watched natural hair videos on YouTube and went through this phase of my life with my other friends who were going natural. I slowly went from wanting pin-straight hair to wanting looser curls. What people fail to realize is that Type 4 hair is excluded from most media entirely. Although we now see more people with curly hair, these actresses do not represent kinky and coily curls. My natural hair journey taught me to appreciate what has been given to me and to create my own standards that are not based upon others. Although I wanted looser curls, I had to realize I would never get them.
When I was a junior in high school, I did something that I never thought I would be able to do. I didn’t go out of the country or make a varsity sports team, but instead, I wore my hair out. For the first week, I felt as if all eyes were on me. I stuck out like a sore thumb in comparison to my peers. I found that the more that I wore my hair out, the more comfortable I got with it. Suddenly, my beauty did not rely on how straightened my hair was or if it was in a perfect bun, but instead, the healthiness of my curls. If my curls felt good and healthy one day, I suddenly would as well. I slowly started to pull back on straightening my hair and reserved it for only special occasions. Throughout this journey, I realized that the media does not define what beauty is, I do.
To all of the Black women reading my article, you are enough. Your hair is enough. Set your beautiful, kinky, curly, and coily hair free and never look back. They are beautiful and so are you.