Like many little black girls, hair has always been an important part of my “upkeep.” For long as I can remember I was handed a mirror after getting my hair done to see how pretty I looked. My little chest would swell with pride anytime I got my hair “done.” Everybody would tell me how pretty I looked. As a child, my cousin worked in a hair salon. Once every 4 weeks I would get to go to the salon. It was the highlight of my little 10 year old day. Since my cousin did hair, she would keep my hair done in between that time. Holidays, birthdays and special occasions meant I didn’t have to wear braids or ponytails. I was given curls or was allowed to wear my hair “straight.” It wasn’t until years later that I realized what a big impact my hair had on my confidence, self-esteem, and the way people saw me.
Like many women my age, my hair was “permed” or chemically treated at a very young age. For long as I can remember I was taught my hair was difficult to manage. I’ve always had very thick hair and to make matters worse my scalp would burn easily when being permed. Needless to say, this process was torture for me and it wasn’t until I was about 27 years old that I decided to stop perming altogether. Black women overall get so much backlash for their hair. Wigs and weaves = self-hate, braid and plaits are sometimes seen as unprofessional in the work place, natural hair isn’t always celebrated or accepted in all spaces. As I continue through my natural hair journey, here are 5 things I’ve learned and I’m sure many other women can agree on.
- Most little girls get their hair straightened in some shape or form for special occasions. This teaches us that our natural hair isn’t “good enough” I get wanting to look extra done up but in a lot of cases our natural hair isn’t considered done.
- There were times I didn’t go to school because for whatever reason I didn’t get my hair done. This followed me into adulthood. I’d miss work or special engagements because my hair wasn’t done. That’s kind of sad when you really think about it.
- I would neglect certain obligations to get my hair done. Plenty of days I’ve spent all day in the salon. There have even been times I’ve missed an entire event getting my hair done for that specific event. Let’s not talk about the money spent. I’ve spent enough money to take a whole trip on one hair style. I’m talking a hotel and even flight fee depending on the destination. OUCH.
- I am extremely self-conscious when my hair isn’t to my liking. Although I now have natural hair, it’s noticeable to other people when I don’t like how my hair came out. I’ve even been asked do I feel OK. When dating, I’d be nervous about showing my natural hair. I didn’t feel “desirable when wearing my natural hair.
- 4C hair is labeled the most difficult. I’ve always been taught that my hair is a burden and that still happens today. Even though I wash and blow dry my hair I’m usually charged extra to braid my hair. I’ve stuck to one stylist because she’s one of the very few who does not openly complain or tell me I can’t get certain styles because of my natural hair.
- *Bonus* At times when I wear my natural hair I’m asked when am I getting my hair done. If you’ve ever said this to someone I urge you to refrain from making these comments. Essentially, what you are saying is the hair that grows out of their scalp isn’t “good enough”
Going natural has taught me so much about myself. I’ve been able to recognize these hang ups and work on them. Its a “journey” because its truly never ending. You don’t stop learning or working on it. Has your hair shaped your experiences in any shape or form? If so how? Sound off below!!!