Three years ago, I stopped getting relaxers and embraced my naturally curly hair.
I did so because I had a sensitive scalp and the relaxers irritated it. My dermatologist advised me to go natural. She was light-skinned and had a huge afro. Part of the reason I went to her was beacuse she was black. I was intriguied by her down to earth nature, her brains and her afro.
I say all the time that represenation matters. It really does. In her office, I felt like a little girl. A girl who had someone to look up to. Her words of advice gave me life. Except, I didn’t want an afro like hers.
It worked for her, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t for me. I didn’t even know where that thought came from.
After the last relaxer left me with scalp burns, I asked myself when I continued to torture myself. Especially when my scalp would not heal after giving it a break for months. I decided to take the plunge. I transitioned from February 2014 until October 2014.
I wore braids, wigs, weave, watched YouTube and cried. I was frustrated with the two textures of hair. I wondered if I was going to make it and if I had made a huge mistake.
In October of 2014, I took the plunge. I cut off the 2 remaining inches of relaxed hair. Trust me, I did not have a euphoric experience looking into the mirror. I was in shock.
The next morning, I instantly regretted my decision. How could anyone accept me when I looked like a boy?
Then regret turned into anxiety. What would my coworkers think? They would think I’ve lost my mind! My face! My face is out for the world to see! I had no hair to hide behind.
I bought headbands and wore big earrings. I used accessories to hide behind my fear of how people would perceive my short curls.
I’m not quite sure when it happened, but one day, I got tired of hiding. I got tired of being stressed if I couldn’t find a headband or scarf to match my outfit. I made a decision to be happy with me, and all my natural beauty. I embraced my short hair and my curls. I found products and techniques that made me love the skin I was in.
I found a confidence that can’t be explained.
And you know the best moment of all? When my daughter said, “Mama, you have curly hair like me!” In that moment, all my internal struggle was worth it.
Now when strangers complement my girls and their naturally curly hair, I can smile with pride. I know that I am setting helping to widen their view of what beauty looks like. They will be bombarded with images online, in magazines and on television. They will question whether or not their curls are enough.
I want them to look at themselves with pride and love their curls. If they choose to straighten it, I hope it will be for themselves, and not to conform.
I want them to know that their curls and their natural beauty, is enough.