I went natural after high school, and 11 years later, after having my daughter, I finally realize the significance of my transition.
When I first decided to stop getting perms in 2004, natural hair salons were very much the new trend in Atlanta. You had one salon in particular, Too Groovy, that from my perspective, was one of the main contributors leading the way for this new hair craze. It was unbelievable that they could wash, roller set, straighten, and style my hair without the use of the creamy crack. Because I had gotten perms since I was about 6 or 7, this discovery, for me, was unprecedented.
After having my daughter, I finally realize the significance of my transition.
My hair is somewhat of a soft, fine texture. Years and years of getting a perm kept it thin, often times broken off, but I just kept perming it anyway. Realizing that my hair could actually thrive by doing away with my former hair routine sounded perfect as I headed off to college. Besides, I always heard that you go natural when you attend an HBCU (shout out to Mother Tuskegee!) so I was ready and willing to see what this natural black girl life was about. Ever since going natural, I’ve worn my hair in weaves, braids, curly, straightened, and even did the big chop after graduating college and moving to New York. Living in Brooklyn helped me to understand the differences and varieties of black beauty — it was heavenly!
I began to wear my hair in its natural curly state. Like most other curly girls, I researched on YouTube and tried about 7,234,722 products, most of which ended up being half used and in the trash. I’m still trying new products ever so often, but I have completely slowed down on the number of products I use and the number of products I try.
The moment I found out I was having a girl, it became vividly clear why being a natural mommy was so important: My daughter would be watching.
Fast forward to 2013, and I had my daughter. The moment I found out I was having a girl, it became vividly clear why being a natural mommy was so important: My daughter would be watching. Every move I make, every swipe of my makeup brush, every time my flat iron goes from the roots to the ends of my hair, every time I comment on my, hers, or someone else’s hair style, texture, length, style, she is soaking it all in and will one day shape her own thoughts, ideas, and opinions based on what she has seen and heard — from me.
And she is internalizing these messages in a way that will inevitably impact her self-esteem and help her define her own standards of beauty. So I had to be honest with myself. What message am I sending to her? Will she love her natural kinks and coils? Does she believe her hair is beautiful the way it grows out of her head, or will she see it as an obstacle she needs to overcome because the world and the media is telling her she needs hair with elbow length minimum or else she’ll need to get a weave? Will she view her braids as a protective style, or a way to cover up her problematic tresses? All of these are questions that I fight to answer for her every single day so that she knows her hair is beautiful just the way it grows out of her head!
Although she is only 2 years old, I am doing my best to teach her early. So far, she loves her hair. She will request her “Annie hair” — referring to Quvenzhane’ Wallis in the remake of the classic movie (shout out to mainstream black representation!) I’ve also used our natural hair journey as a way to twin with my mini me in an effort to be the show her that we are in this together.
Sometimes, if I give her two cornrows, mommy wears two cornrows. If I put her hair in a cute bun on the top of her head with all her kinky glory freely flowing in the back, mommy does the same. If she wears the quintessential black girl hairstyle — two afro puff balls, I let her have her shine and wear my hair like an adult — but you get my point.
I have to fight against these messages for my daughter — and yours — every single day.
As a black woman, I have internalized so many messages that I view, as I have matured, are vicious, and often subtle attacks on our subconscious and our entire being — our skin, our bodies, and our hair. I have to fight against these messages for my daughter — and yours — every single day. I want my daughter to know and truly believe that she is not beautiful in spite of her kinky hair, but that she is beautiful because of it. And since I am her first teacher, I best be practicing what I preach.
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.