I was twenty-five years old when I finally accepted the curls on my head. Deciding that I was going to stop leaving my hair in someone else’s care and learn how to manage it for myself. Some people may read this and think, “what were you doing all those other years?!” Like most Black girls my mom held on to the styling duties until I hit the sixth or seventh grade. Then a little Jam, pink oil lotion, and sock buns became my go to style. It took many failed beauty shop visits, haircuts, and teary mornings for me to take control. Going natural was the biggest booster for my confidence and it’s why I encourage other women to give it a try.
Everyone has bad hair days. But not everyone’s bad hair days turn into bad hair weeks that make them to want to bury under covers and never return. Hair holds a great significance in the Black community. From the time girls are young they are either lauded for the texture and length of their tresses or ridiculed for the same things. As we age this only becomes more prevalent when we’re riddled with decisions to make about our hair that can alter it not for the better.
For me trips to the salon weren’t frequent, in fact they were non-existent for the most part. My mother, a single parent of two, had more important things to budget than press & curls. This meant a run in with a Just For Me perm at a young age. I had dreams of what my hair would look like afterward. Longing to be as beautiful as the girls plastered on the 5×7 boxes that lined shelves. Instead, I ended up with patchy hair that became weak and brittle. Clearly the box just wasn’t for me. Thankfully my mom recognized it too, was the beginning and end of my permed days. But the hair road through middle and high school was long and trying.
By the time I got to Howard, I had mastered three hairstyles – a bun, a puff, and wearing a hat. Ha! It took the coaxing of my dorm mates to get me underneath a flat iron and pressing comb. There were many beauty nights that saved me – shoutout to Ashley and Haven, y’all helped a girl out. Discovering that my hair wasn’t something to be hated lifted my spirit. It made me feel like pretty was in the cards for me. For the first time in my life hair wasn’t the bane of my existence.
I had left DC and my magic beauticians behind, it was time for Leslie to master Leslie. So I did. And it wasn’t without error or trial. It came with days of staring in the mirror wondering what went wrong. A cabinet full of hair products left half used and YouTube videos that didn’t help. But finally the day came when I was able to wash, style, and maintain my own crown without the assistance of someone else. I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. Not only because I could move on from my three look program but more importantly because I didn’t hate anymore what I had been born with.
It is beyond difficult to live in a world where your hair is viewed as “wild”, “different”, or “wrong.” It doesn’t help if you think those things about yourself as well. Being able to rock my texture with no qualms and without fear has given me confidence to hold my head high. It has made my smile brighter and now become something that people look to me for advice on. My hair is a part of my personality these days and I’m so proud of her.
If you’re still on the fence about taking the natural leap or want some tips, let me know in the comments, I’ll promise to lend a helping hand!