Embracing the Curl
For a year now I have been transitioning. And by transitioning, I mean I have been growing my natural, nappy hair texture out to prepare myself for "the big chop" when I cut off all the hair that has been chemically relaxed (which is only about 2-3 inches of my current length) and embrace my curls. For me, this is a big deal. Ever since I was a child, I have struggled with my hair. Actually, my mother struggled with my hair. As someone with not my texture, she didn't quite know just what to do with my little 'fro.
As you can see from the photos below, I rocked a lot of terrible styles for the majority of my childhood. There were no African American hair salons in the area, and nay a person of color in sight to help us out, so my mother did what she could to make me look presentable to the world, which included a school photo where my hair didn't want to behave and shot straight up to the sky right as the flashbulb went off. My hair has never cooperated as it should, and because of that I spent all the way up to the age of 12 being frustrated that I couldn't have "pretty" hair like my friends.
At 12, we finally found someone who could chemically straighten my hair. This opened up a whole new world for me. I could finally have manageable hair and not have to worry about combing through the kinks and tangles. But with relaxed hair, I had to avoid all forms of water and humidity for my hair to stay that way. It was almost worst than before. While my hair could look good for a day or two, the moment the Seattle rain started pouring, my hair would die a silent death and frizz up.
But it was better than before, so I attempted this style from age 12 to 21. At 21 I decided I watched the documentary Good Hair and realized how damaged my hair was getting from the chemicals so I stopped getting it relaxed and just straightened it with a very hot flat iron. It was definitely working, but my hair wasn't growing. It kept staying the same length, and after a year and a half I didn't understand why. It was because the heat I was using on my hair everyday was just as damaging as the chemicals. I was also dying my hair red a lot, which didn't help.
I wanted a change, so I got my hair dyed Beyonce blonde and thought that would break up the monotony, but it definitely just weakened my hair more. After a year and a half of staying away from relaxer, I gave in and went to get it straightened again. After realizing this was a mistake and thinking there must be some way to grow my hair long and strong, I watched a lot of natural hair styling videos on YouTube and read blogs that would help me to understand that the best way to grow my hair was to put it in a protective style and leave it alone for awhile.
And that's what I did. Last August, I got a weave before I left for London and promised myself to keep my hair away from heat for as long as possible. And it worked. After wearing weaves from August 2014 to August 2015, my hair grew significantly and I feel more confident about rocking my curly hair than ever before. While the ends of my hair are still relaxed so the texture is different than my root growth, I've found styles that blend the hair better or I just brush it out into a fabulous afro.
I probably shouldn't have, but I lightened the bottom half of my hair just to give it some flavor, but I am making sure to keep it moisturized and taking all the advice I can from the many natural hair girls I follow on social media. At the end of the day, whatever style works best for you, I'd say go with! I was sick and tired of being ashamed of the hair I was born with and wanted to start celebrating the natural beauty my hair holds within my tight, ringlet curls.
I do still have days where I wake up and my hair doesn't look how I want, or I just get frustrated and do grab my straightener and revert back to my old look. But the less and less I use heat on my hair, the more it will stay healthy and strong and keep getting longer and then the thought of ever needing to wear a weave will be laughable to me. I love my curly hair. I love reaching back and touching a curl and feeling its structure and pulling on it and feeling it bounce back like a spring. I can do exciting styles with my hair that I wasn't able to do before, and I can be proud of my African roots and embrace my nappyness.