Growing up, I always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. It was the snowbird kind of relationship, where when the going got tough, I would run away (no offense to snowbirds, I know the cold isn’t for everyone). I would just put it in a protective hairstyle, so I wouldn’t have to face it. The protective styles became a safety blanket, and my natural hair took a back seat. Now, I’m choosing to face, love and embrace my natural hair because it’s beautiful.
For most of my childhood and teenage years, my hair was always in braids. With a mom who worked long hours, it was hard for her to do my hair every morning. Protective hairstyles were her go-to for me. Every school year, I had a new style and I loved it. When I was in third grade, I wore my natural hair out in school for the first time in a long time. The laughs and stares, accompanied by pointing from a few girls during lunch, completely broke me. From that moment on, I hated wearing my natural hair to school and only would allow myself to wear it out during the summer when I knew no one would see me.
Fast forward to ninth grade, I had the idea to wear my natural hair for the school year (spoiler alert: it didn’t last). This time around, my problem was not being able to style my hair the way I wanted because I didn’t know how. My hair became something I was overly critical about and a big insecurity. I never wanted to wear my hair out for too long. My braids became something I hid behind, instead of something I love. The battle continued, and it seemed to me that I was on the losing side.
All of this changed last summer. After talking to the people that I loved the most, I realized that the relationship I had with my hair was one that was rooted in a lot of pain, frustration and disappointment. I realized that the negative opinions of others that I heard at a young age deterred me from being able to see my full beauty without the braids. I realized that it was just hair, yet I was giving it so much power over me in how I viewed and loved myself. Every day, those closest to me reminded me of how beautiful I was, with or without my braids. For some reason when they said it this time, it felt different — I started to believe it.
Standing where I am now, the journey with my hair is one that I wouldn’t change for the world. Although it took me a long time to get to a place where I love my hair, it was necessary for my growth and self-confidence. The battle with my hair will be one that I’ll constantly be fighting. This time, I’ll be on the winning side. It’s about time that I learned to love and appreciate my natural hair.