“Your hair is nappy. Your hair is too rough, too thick, too hard to manage. And you’re so tender-headed!”
Now you know, my mom and I were anxiously awaiting my sixth birthday so we could finally throw a relaxer in my hair, and all parties involved could be free of the pain of having to care for it. How beautiful would I look when I walk into school with straight hair, like everyone else?
I remember the excitement… What I remember more vividly, is how painful getting a relaxer actually was.
I remember the excitement of knowing that I would look like my mom and all the girls in my class. What I remember more vividly, is how painful getting a relaxer actually was, and how I was taught to bear and grin through the pain, if I wanted to have beautiful hair. The burns on my scalp always healed before the next relaxer, and I no longer had to actually style my hair, I just wore it down all the time.
From the age of 6 to 25, I relaxed my hair, never knowing there was another option for me… until I found YouTube.
For the first time in almost 20 years, I had been exposed to a community of Black women who no longer had their hair relaxed and taught others how they, too, can grow out and style their hair naturally. The more videos I watched, the more inspired and confident I became, enabling me to embark on this same natural hair journey experience for myself.
From the age of 6 to 25, I relaxed my hair, never knowing there was another option.
I’ve been natural for six years now, and because of my decision to share my natural hair experiences through digital media, I started my own website, KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com, where women with natural hair can receive education, product recommendations, tutorials and additional support they need to care for their hair and their children’s hair. When I see my 2-year-old daughter loving her natural hair, I see the importance of being positive role models and mentors in our children’s lives. She has me to look up to in defining as she defines what her own beauty is. And, I want to be able to support other moms in being role models for their daughters, because we weren’t taught how to appreciate the beauty of someone else without questioning our own beauty.
Our voices are creating a more inclusive standard of beauty.
The overwhelming amount of support I received from my husband, family and friends is what kept me going, even when being natural got tough. There were many times when I was frustrated with my hair texture and the lengthy styling process, but I found comfort in knowing that there are so many women going through similar experiences. And, collectively our voices are effecting changes in creating a more inclusive standard of beauty. Everyday that we learn more about our hair and document our experiences publicly is another day we support a Black woman who is nervous about finally coming into her own and accepting her natural hair.
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.