As a young child, I’ve had my hair pressed straight and braided by my mother to make my hair more manageable. There wasn’t a week when I wasn’t inundated with the thought that my hair was difficult to tame. I had first permanent relaxer at age thirteen so I could manage my hair myself when I entered high school. And my teenage peers often reinforced that having a straighter hair texture other than my own was highly preferred.
Let’s fast forward to adulthood and my feeling about my hair today. For the past couple years I’ve been more conscious about the food I eat, natural products, and getting away from harmful chemicals in beauty items so I also developed a desire for healthier hair care options.
I’ve been telaxing my hair for five years. (NOTE: Instead of chemically processing my hair bone straight, I purposely under-process my hair to leave some texture which is called 'texlaxing'. The result was slightly textured roots. Texlaxing is done with a mild permanent relaxer: the hair is coated with oil/conditioner first and the chemicals stay on any new growth for less than seven minutes.) I only telex my hair three or four times a year. You can see my blown out and flat ironed hair is healthy and shoulder-length and I totally love it.
But during my travels this year to different United States climates and I found myself struggling with my hair. The coldness of Milwaukee, WI, the dryness of Los Angeles, CA, and humidity of Atlanta, GA made me take a hard look at my hair. I was working so hard to make it conform to being straight that I never realized my hair hadn’t grown past my shoulders in years.
And even worse, I haven’t seen my natural hair texture since I was a teenager.
Was I afraid of seeing my real hair? Did working in a corporate environment make me fearful to embrace what Mother Nature gave me? Did I secretly think my facial features would look harder without the look of longer hair to frame it? Yes, yes, and yes. I had those fears but I’m a mother of two college-aged daughters so how could I tell them to embrace and love their natural beauty if I couldn’t do the same?
So I stopped the damaging hair processes the moment I returned from Atlanta. I researched everything I could about my natural hair texture and started my hair journey. Only one person in my life (a black man) totally hates my naturally coiffed hair. That’s disappointing but I understand that everyone won’t like the way my hair natural grows out of my scalp. What matters is what I feel about my hair. And I’m lucky that my family, friends, colleagues, and readers have been so supportive. It feels healthier and is so beautifully versatile that with each passing day, I appreciate texture God has given me.
What I’ve learned from the start of this journey is that the weather shouldn’t have power over my personal style. My hair has a wonderful soft texture that I love touching and styling. It can be shown in this fashion just as much as I rocked the straight looks.
Today, I feel totally comfortable in my being and the best part is my daughters understand their hair is beautiful in its natural state too. So what about you? Are you changing a part of yourself due to a fear of being judged? Have you placed your health on the back burner in order to conform to a societal norm? Does someone’s opinion have more weight in your life than your own?
Can you love what you keep trying to change?
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