In 2014 prompted by the ending of a dating situation and a relaxer that burnt my scalp so badly, I decided to go natural. This means that I stopped relaxing my hair to make it straight and would now be wearing my hair’s natural texture. The first few months weren’t so hard because the two textures could still be blended together. But by around month four, this was no longer an option and it became a struggle to do my hair. I noticed around this time, that I stopped looking at myself in the mirror. The woman who was looking back at me, I didn’t recognize. Because I was transitioning my hair I lost some of my self-confidence. It was then that I realized how much of my self-worth was tied into my hair.
I got my first relaxer at 12, and relaxed my hair for the next 12 years. I’ve always had “good hair”, and received many compliments on my hair. I equated my beauty in part to my hair. When I no longer had this crutch, it forced me to define my identity, my worth, and my beauty in a new way. If no one was complimenting me, was I still beautiful? If no one stared at me or noticed me when I walked down the street was I still desirable? Transitioning my hair changed not only my outward appearance, but it forced me to change my mindset as well.
Today, so many of us tie our self-worth to our careers, to our physical appearance, to our bank accounts, to our degrees, to our homes. These are important, but they do not define you. If someone stripped away these things from you, who would you be? Without my hair, without fitting into society’s definition of beauty, who was I? The answer is anything I wanted to be. We’re all constantly evolving. The woman I was a year ago, is not the woman I am today. The woman who transitioned her hair in 2014, is not the woman who is sitting here writing this blog.
Transitioning my hair, helped me to discover a strength within myself that I never knew. I found a whole new side to myself. It was difficult. It was rough. Literally my hair was rough after years of being chemically treated. I love that my hair is symbolic of the growth that I’ve endured during my 20s. I have a greater appreciation for my hair now since I had to fight with it ,and discover ways to get it to work for me. I also have a greater appreciation for myself. Discovering new interests and new sides to my personality is a life long journey. And it’s one that I look forward to taking.
I have now been fully natural for about 4 years. There are days I love my hair. There are days when I hate it because it behaves like an unloved, unruly child. But I can finally look in the mirror again and the woman looking back at me is someone I know. My hair doesn’t define me. I define me.