Dear Curly Heads,
Does the following sound familiar: "I hate my hair" or "I wish I had her hair"? I found myself saying this pretty much every morning growing up. It took me over two decades to truly love my hair and embrace it. To love MY curls and not wish I had someone else's. Was this an overnight thing? Absolutely not! Did I try before? Many times, but I was very inconsistent and therefore did not stick to it. If you weren't raised to love your natural hair, embracing it and confidently wearing it is not something that happens automatically.
So what finally did it for me? You'd be surprised by how much of how you view yourself has to do with what you're visually feeding your mind. Some of us spend hours scrolling through social media images, YouTube videos, Pinterest posts, and who knows what else! For those of us who Pinterest frequently (me), you probably have what I call your "alternate life" - the life you created on Pinterest of how everything would be if you had the money for it. You know what I’m talking about; the Pinterest boards that contain your dream kitchen, laundry room ideas, makeup looks, hair color, haircut pins, and the list continues. Well, one day I realized that all of my boards containing hair related pins didn't have ONE pin with someone who's hair looked similar to my own (if I wore it in its natural state).
For so long, what I thought was beautiful hair was what society bombarded me with by means of the media: commercials, magazines, models, celebrities, internet ads, movies, tv shows, pretty much everything. Even African American and Latinx owned beauty/hair magazines mainly featured women with permed/relaxed/straightened hair on the covers which still wasn't a reflection of my natural hair. That's when I decided to control what was being fed to me visually as far as beauty goes. I decided to start looking up pins on Pinterest by searching for "curly hair" or "natural hair". And let me tell you that what I found was true BEAUTY. Scrolling through all of these images of women of ALL colors and ethnicities wearing their beautiful, natural curly hair was so motivating for me. It’s almost like a veil was lifted from my face and now I was finally in control of my truth.
I decided to start updating my beauty related boards with women who looked like me. While doing this I discovered “influencers" or "vloggers” on Instagram and YouTube that shared with others how they care for and style their curls. I started following a few of these influencers and reading what they had to say about their personal journey with their natural hair. The effect that scrolling through my feed and seeing these images on a daily basis was life changing. Not only did it start boosting up my self-esteem, but it was giving me the confidence that I never realized was missing. Seeing real women from all over the world wearing their curls every day motivated me to start doing the same. Most importantly though, it led me to the realization that my hair was beautiful too and that I did not need to alter its texture and pattern to fit in ANYWHERE regardless of the occasion.
I finally decided of my own accord to wear my hair the way it naturally is: curly. And this my fellow curly heads is the key! You have to decide to go natural and to wear your curls. If it doesn’t come from within you, you will probably be as inconsistent as I was. I realized that I was doing it mostly to please those who kept encouraging me to wear my curls at the time (mainly my sister). I was still straightening it for formal events or for social occasions because I felt that I looked most attractive and appropriate when I wore it straight. I realized that I was the problem. I was the one telling myself these things.
So what is the point of all this ranting? To share this truth: you must define beauty for yourself, what it truly means to you. Don't compare your hair to others, or envy those who have a different texture/pattern. Set your own "good hair" standards. And once you do, visually surround yourself by it. When you find yourself scrolling through social media images and posts, start looking at the ones that align with and support your natural hair goals. Most importantly, go natural once you are finally ready to do so. There are many people out there toying with the idea of wearing their natural hair and that’s okay if you’re not ready to commit yet. You can do it when you’re ready. Just know that there’s a community waiting to embrace you once you do. Don’t let society’s norms keep you from being your truest self. Remember this: What others think of your hair is their choice. What you think of your hair is YOUR choice.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”