“Didn’t you brush your hair?”
“Have you looked in the mirror?”
“I bet no comb can get through that hair!”
When I was growing up, people would make these comments about my hair everywhere I went. They said these things as if I chose to have curly hair. If I could, I would’ve chosen to have straight hair in a heartbeat. Straight hair seemed more normal and attractive, probably because society portrays the “ideal” woman as white, slim, straight hair, and blue-eyed. If you don’t fit that norm, it makes you feel like an outcast.
I remember as a young girl that my mom would straighten my hair to make it more manageable. When she straightened it, my hair became smooth and was no longer in knots. Everyone complimented on how much better my hair looked when it was straight. As time went by, I started to hate my natural hair. I would think to myself, “Can I just swap my crazy, curly hair for the straight hair from the girls at school?” Disliking my hair opened pandora’s box. Suddenly I was criticizing every single aspect of my body that didn’t resemble the actors and actresses on tv.
After years and years of putting chemical treatments in my hair as well as straightening it, I couldn’t even remember how my curls looked. Once I came to college and saw people rocking their natural curly hair, I started getting intrigued by the idea of doing the same. My friends kept encouraging me to go all natural with my hair, so I did. I got my first curly cut back in May, and for the first time in years, I was able to see what my natural hair actually looked like.
As I stared at myself in the mirror, I started crying. I thought of all the times when I didn’t accept my curls and altered my hairstyle to fit in. In what felt like the first time in forever, I started to like my natural self. Ever since I got that curly cut, I have felt more comfortable and at peace with myself.
The road to accepting my natural curly hair was not at all an easy one. There were days where I would just get frustrated and all I wanted to do was quit and straighten my hair again. But once I started really practicing these three key points, the journey to embracing my natural hair became a little easier.
Surround yourself around people who accept you for who you are: My mom will always say to me, “Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are.” If you are constantly being surrounded by people who radiate positivity, love, and acceptance, you are most likely going to do the same. Being around people who accept and love you for who you are is an important key to self-acceptance.
Deep condition: Deep conditioning is your best friend! Do you have dry, damaged, brittle, or color treated hair? All of these can be solved by deep conditioning your hair once a week. Doing this has honestly helped my hair so much. It has not only helped my dry hair problem, but it has also helped my curls to be more defined. I am not one to use a lot of chemicals in my hair, so deep conditioning for me entails doing DIY hair masks that I find on instagram and different social media platforms. If you don’t really enjoy that, there are always deep conditioner packets that you can buy at the store.
Patience: If you have been mistreating your hair for years, you can’t expect it to fix itself in a day. I struggle a lot with patience because I always see people on social media with perfect curls and no frizz, so it made me very frustrated to think that mine doesn’t look like that all the time. But if there is one thing I have learned throughout this journey, it is that no two people are the same, and nothing good comes out of comparing my natural hair to others. I just embrace my curls, even if it means having undefined, frizzy curls.
Embracing who you truly are, whether that is your sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or even natural hair, is a step towards accepting all your flaws. As I started to embrace and take care of my natural hair, I embarked on my journey to self-acceptance.