The Natural Hair Journey: A Physical and Emotional Transformation
Updated: May 21, 2021
I was hiding for a long time.
Hiding behind the idea that I was "better" with hair that could closely resemble my non-black counterparts. I've written a blog post about why I started The Curlfriend | For the Curlfriends blog before, but only scratching the surface of the lack of true self-love I had before starting my journey.
With today's movement, and all the stories being shared, I feel a part of me is igniting. I feel invigorated to share my truth and my experiences that I hid from myself for too long.
There was a point before my natural journey, that I would actually wish for my hair to be different. I would actually fall asleep praying, to awake up with "better" hair. I felt that I was the only one that thought I was or could ever be as beautiful as those with lighter features on the media.
Relaxers were a way for me to fit in and feel a step closer to the typical standards of beauty. While some may relax their hair for their own reasons, my reasons were definitely not healthy.
When going natural in 2016, I found myself starting to purge my subconscious feelings and thoughts about feeling less beautiful with kinkier hair, that I didn't even know I had.
It became not only a physically transforming journey, but an emotional one.
I started acknowledging how I hid behind my relaxed hair. When I realized this, I decided to cut off the remainder of my relaxed ends in November 2017, almost impulsively. One day I just hit record and chopped off my hair.
I couldn't take hiding anymore.
And every day after that, I looked at myself in the mirror...no longer recognizing myself. When I stared at my reflection, afro and all, I realized that this was who I always was. It took some getting used to. I felt like I didn't look like me anymore.
I found myself with closed eyes to the natural hair culture. Starting my blog opened a door to a community I could now identify with. My hair page now was filled with melanin skin, kinky hair, women recording how they do their bantu-knots and how they pre-poo. I was now exposed to others with half-relaxed hair trying to grow out their curls.
It made me believe I could do it too—I just had to "learn my hair"—all over again.
The routine that I developed for my relaxed had slid from under me and was replaced with frustration, hysterical crying, hatred. The hair that I hid my suppressed feelings with, was now gone. I was exposed.
I constantly had to tell myself that I needed to know what my natural hair actually looked like without chemicals. I couldn't turn 22 and never know what my hair that grew from my scalp without a relaxer looked like. So, I made myself develop a routine and find styles that made me feel beautiful.
Over time I began to embrace my volume and encourage it. It was like something came over me.
Once I allowed my body to be my body, I accepted so many other parts of me that I didn't even know I let become dormant. At one point I acknowledged how I often hid from the sun because I didn't want to be darker.
I stopped hiding, stop desiring to be of the typical white beauty standards. I wanted to dance in the sun so my skin could be dark like my ancestors. I started to embrace the idea of being heavily melanated as beautiful.
My frustration soon was replaced with an understanding of how to manage my hair. My hysterical crying because of feeling less than, was replaced with tears of happiness, because I finally and actually, loved my hair.
My hatred was replaced with self-love.
As my platform gained momentum, more and more women of color messaged me expressing how my page gave them the courage to grow and accept their natural beauty. My journey was a physical one that created a small domino effect.
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After acknowledging how much I didn't want to embrace being black, it hurt me. It hurt that that is what I did for so many years unknowingly. So, I wanted my page to really, I mean truly, I want it to be helpful. I wanted it to be almost therapeutic because I experienced how emotional the natural hair journey can be.
I wanted the support of a curlfriend when I was transitioning. Of course, I had those around me to encourage me, loved ones, family, and some friends. But I really wanted someone experiencing it with me or someone that went through this kind of journey during this time.
I mean, social media can make this journey overwhelming. And the few women I reached out to that went through their transition, never answered me when I reached out to them. I felt alone. I wondered how would I do this and if my hair will even grow?
But I am here to tell you, your hair will grow and so will you. While you may feel unlike yourself, because you are growing parts of you you have covered for so long, you are the most natural you have been.
I want to be that person for someone that needs encouragement and that person to remind black women that we are naturally captivating.
This journey really was about me telling myself no matter what hair type I have, that I am still beautiful because I am who I was created to be.
This my curlfriend, is the journey that jumpstarts your heart and continues you on a new journey of self-love.
Some days you will feel defeated. Some days you will still wish your hair was easier to manage. But with time you will begin to love yourself again.
There are days, still, when I worry that being surrounded by white women with flowing straight hair will make me revert back to hiding.
But I continue to remind myself that I've been hiding for too long.
You have to love yourself enough that even if you are alone, you can stand in your greatness.
If there are no POC to look up to, then be that person. Be the heavily melanated human representing excellence in places it is absent.
You can do it. If I could, trust me, you can too.