Every woman knows when it’s time for a life change, we rummage through our drawers, pull out the scissors and cut our hair. There’s a therapy in watching the strands fall to the floor. Snip,Snip, Snip. Freedom. Snip,Snip, Snip. Change. Snip,Snip,Snip. Life begins.
Growing up, I have always struggled with my hair. I was a little brown girl with curly, unruly hair. I had very little options. 20 years ago the only choices a little brown girl had for hair care was Luster Pink Moisturizer, Blue Magic Grease and water. My mother tried very hard to style my hair so that I was satisfied. But, I was extremely jealous of the other little brown girls with sleek pressed styles. My bushy ponytail just couldn’t compare. I spent the next 10 years begging her to let me get a relaxer and she never budged. Thank you, Ma.
Then came the day I discovered my hair’s kryptonite: the flat iron. My decade-long prayer had finally been answered. No one would ever say to me again, “ Your hair would look so much better straightened.”I had a routine. Sundays, I would wash my hair and then straighten it. By Tuesday, Maryland’s humidity frizzed my strands, so that evening I would press it again. I might do it one more time that week depending on my plans for the weekend. My hair’s natural state became this dirty little secret that I had to keep hidden. My roots signified to others that I was different. And, in high school different isn’t popular.
During high school, I experimented on my hair to the point that I could avoid punishments. I cut bangs, I used semi-permanent color, I straightened, I weaved. I just needed to keep my hair’s true identity hidden. Once I graduated, I was able to afford the hair salon. Throughout college, I would visit the Dominican hair salon twice a month. That’s when my hair’s health went downhill. When I straightened my hair in high school, I was not using enough heat to change my curl pattern. But, if you’ve ever sat in a Dominican’s chair, you know she used enough heat to make the Devil run for cover. My hair became a loose, wavy texture that was beautiful when straightened. However, I could never wear a wash n’ go.
When the natural hair movement emerged, I was so fascinated. I had just spent my childhood fighting with my kinks and curls. Now, here are these women on YouTube encouraging me to embrace my hair. One of the first YouTubers I subscribed to was Taren Guy. She was so knowledgeable. Her hair was beautiful and big. Then, I started watching Mahogany Curls. I remembered that before going to the hair salon, my hair looked like hers. I spent a few months doing research and mentally preparing myself to do what these ladies were doing. This crazy notion of loving your hair. It was a revolutionary idea. My mother fought so hard for me to understand this, but she was my mother. When you’re younger, you imagine that your mother is obligated to tell you nice things. I mean, she did have a part in creating you.
In April 2014, post-break up and post-undergraduate, I mustered up enough strength to big chop. My younger sister,a licensed cosmetologist cut all the heat damage out of my hair. It was the shortest my hair has ever been. Also, it was the most confident I had ever been. I had to focus on other physical features that were obscured in the process of trying to hide my hair. However, true to my nature, I began experimenting again. Show me a naturalista that hasn’t experimented in her first year. Honestly, that is one of the best ways to learn natural hair care. No amount of YouTube subscribing or blog reading can tell you the right regimen for your hair. Nine months later, I big chopped again. This time I did it myself. I created rules for myself and I knew what products worked for my hair. I understood about creating routines for your hair and I found a natural hair community I could engage in on Instagram.
Since, I have been documenting my hair’s growth on my social media accounts; I share what works for me and give advice to other natural hair girls. My natural hair journey taught me about self-love and self-care. When you return natural, it requires a lot of patience and education. It is the same for yourself. When you are on this journey, you focus on health, self-esteem and spiritual well-being. On social media, you can probably grow tired of these girls who constantly post hair selfies and use thousands of hashtags. But, what you are not seeing are these little brown girls with thick, curly, kinky manes who have just figured out how to love a part of themselves that was socially unacceptable just a decade ago.
Earlier this year, I was speaking to one of my best friend’s niece on the phone. This little girl is a beautiful spirit who reminds me of myself when I was her age. The conversation started with small talk. I asked her what she was doing. She responded that she was reading a book about witches.
She said, “ Yea, but I don’t have magic.”
I replied, “Yes you do.”
“No, I don’t”
“Yes you do. You have black girl magic.”
“Yes you have black girl magic. It’s in your hair and in your skin,” I told her.
My natural hair journey is not about how long my hair grows or what products I use. This journey is about the moment you can tell a little brown girl with thick, unruly hair that she has a magic you spent the last 20 years unearthing.