From the age of one I have had countless numbers of people gawk at the wonders of my 4C natural hair. I never understood why others were so fascinated by it or why people asked how my hair got so long after night when I would get braids put in. My hair was always the topic of conversation at school and when I was out in public. My hair journey is as extensive as the number of ignorant people who have touched my hair without asking.
I started getting my hair hot combed from as early as I can remember. My mom would straighten my hair and twist it into two strand twists all over my head. I would get mini head injuries from the little balls she put on the end of them. They were so hard! My mom would do braids for me every summer so that I could go swimming without having to worry about a swim cap. This was the routine for years until I turned 11.
I grew up in predominately white schools and lived in predominately white neighborhoods. Everyone I was friends with had long straight flowing hair. I wanted that so badly so my mom allowed me to get my hair relaxed. For those that are not quite sure what that means: I had a chemical, a pretty harsh one at that, placed on my hair to break down the curl pattern of my hair making it straight permanently. I was so excited to swing my flowing back length hair around and wear my hair in similar styles as my friends at school. I fit in and wasn’t set apart from everyone for something so basic as my hair.
I kept my hair straight or in braids until one of the worst days in my hair life. I was a senior in High School and wanted to get my hair trimmed before a big dance. My hair stylist cut my mid back length hair to right under my ears without telling me. I had so much breakage and damage in my hair that this was what she thought was best. I was mortified and cried for hours. This was the time I got my first weave. For those that are not sure what a weave is: I had tracks/wefts of hair (can be human or synthetic) sewn to cornrows of my hair to add length. This became my favorite hair style because my hair was growing underneath the extensions.
In college I finally had longer than shoulder length hair and decided to relax it again. This would be the worst decision I made after getting it relaxed the first time. My hair began to break off again and I didn’t know what to do. I ended up getting my first pixie. This is the perfect cut to begin a transition back to natural hair. I went to ARThur Christine in Vienna, VA and was thrilled with my new look, but I knew it was time to seriously take care of my natural hair. I am now, proudly at 2 years relaxer free.
I am learning so much about my hair now that I don’t rely on getting it straightened. I have learned that I actually have multiple textures on my head and how well my hair responds to certain products. I am more comfortable rocking my hair natural, in braids, faux loss, or twists than I am with it straight.
I allowed the strength of my versatile hair be taken away from me simply because it didn’t fit with the norm. My hair is magical! It grows up towards the sun, it is strong, it is soft and most importantly it is healthy. I have come to refer to my hair as my crown. While any woman’s’ hair is important to her self-expression, it is also a reflection of self-awareness and self-love. When a woman no longer hides behind her hair, but makes it a display of who she is, her hair becomes her crown.
Each woman’s hair journey is going to be different, but I hope that every woman ends up with a crown, a display of who we are rather than a shield to hide behind.
Where are you in your hair journey?