Loving the Hair That You’re In

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For as long as I could remember my natural hair was thick and super coily. My mom kept it in braids to make it easier for when I would go to visit my dad for the summer. He didn’t know what to do with it, and after a week my hair would already be fuzzy with dirt, sweat, and everything else it had picked up. So, when it came to figuring out what wash day would look like, we needed a plan for what to do with my hair next. The frustration that built up is how I learned about my hair being unwieldy, untamed, and needing to be straightened in order to manage it. It was perhaps then that I learned to dislike my thick natural coils that just needed a little love and care.

Fast forward to high school, I decided to take control of my hair and started going to the hair salon to get my hair done. I chopped all my hair off into a short cut (we all thought we were Halle Berry, Adina Howard, or some other short haircut diva with those butta’s laid..) This meant that I had to keep going back to the shop to either touch up my edges, get a relaxer, and/or retouch the shaved hair sections so that I didn’t look like a Chia Pet™. My hair was still just as thick as it was during my childhood, only it was relaxed. So, now I could "manage" my hair (sound familiar?.) Believe it or not, believing that my hair was somehow easier to manage with a relaxer was not necessarily the disturbing part. What would disturb me were the number of stylists that would try to hint at me "needing" to get a relaxer every 3-4 weeks. One even had the audacity to tell me that if she had hair like mine, she’d relax it every day…needless to say, she swiftly began seeing me in her colleagues chair and not hers (yes, I could be that petty..). If I didn’t know any better, this probably would have made me even more antagonistic to my hair. I was already operating with a love/hate relationship with my hair, even though my hair was quite versatile and allowed me to rock any hairstyle I wanted. But, in the back on my mind, I continued to secretly wish that my hair looked like something other than what it was. As though something were wrong with it. My hair wasn’t see-through, nor was it going to break in half when the wind blew. It was full, thick, and absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, I walked around most of my childhood, teenage, and some adult years thinking otherwise.

Today, it’s amazing to see those same people who had much to say about how "nappy" my hair was. These are the same ones who continued to damage their hair with heat, chemicals, and poor hair maintenance regimens and tried to pass on their sage advice. The irony is that now when they see me, they ask me what do I do to my hair or what products do I use, and my favorite: how can they get their hair to look like mine? After chuckling to myself, I can only give them the sage advice of loving the hair that they have and working with it instead of trying to beat it into submission.

February is a month of love. Love every aspect of who you are, and what your hair is... As soon as I stopped wishing my hair were something else, that’s when others started appreciating and wishing that their hair were like mine. 

AE