I started growing my locs four years ago. There was no deep reason behind my going natural. It was a choice that I had been wanting to make years before I actually did it. I was tired of relaxing my hair, buying weave and spending hours putting it in and taking it back out. I had worn every hairstyle from shaved sides with a mohawk, an afro, to royal blue and gold colored weave braids decorated with beads and jewels. Yes. I did the most! I began to think, why am I doing all of this? I had brutalized my mane over the years. Injuries included one chemical burn (which caused a small bald spot), my edges were breaking off, and my dry brittle hair never grew beyond a certain length. Who told me that my hair had to be altered in some way from its natural state?
What lies beneath
What I found underneath all the weave and trendy hairstyles was a poor self-image. Before anyone gets all riled up; I don’t have anything against relaxers, wigs, or weaves. How you wear your hair is your business and reflects your unique personality. I am just talking about me and my experience.
Somewhere along the way I received subliminal messages (internally and externally) that my hair wasn’t pretty or good enough in its natural state. I still had a little relaxer left in my hair when I started my locs but the stylist said, “I don’t want to give you a fade, I want to leave you with something.” At that point a fade would have been fine with me but I went with it.
For the next year it was almost as if people wanted me to explain to them what the heck I was doing or not doing with my hair. It sometimes seemed to be the untamed elephant in the room. My self-acceptance was being cultivated in a way that I hadn’t planned for or even expected.
The questions I didn’t ask aloud
Growing up, clearly there were some lines drawn in the sand. Why didn’t I have the pretty hair like the light skinned and white girls had? I remember the comb snapping in two a couple of times. Why did my mom have to heat up the black, metal, funny smelling hot comb that smoked and sat on top of the stove to straighten my hair? When that Blue Magic grease got hot and melted on my scalp it burned!
The boys didn’t chase the girls like me on the playground. Was it because I didn’t have their smooth peanut butter complexion and naturally long fine hair? I thought they were so pretty and I accidently developed the idea that I was not. By default, I saw myself as black and ugly. Why didn’t God make me beautiful?
When life gives you lemons
I tried to be a “nice” girl to everybody. The little quiet girl with excellent manners that my mommy could be proud of. The problem with being so nice, trying to be so good, is that it doesn’t matter. Someone will find a reason not to like you. The worst part is that you aren’t sure if you even like you. The little black, ugly, and skinny girl who no one saw didn’t even know how to truly see herself.
Growing my locs became one of my pathways to self-discovery from the inside out. I stopped caring about what people thought of me or my hair for that matter. I realized that how I wear my hair is my choice and doesn’t require any explanation. Whatever I decide is good enough and acceptable.
Today, I know the truth that God created me exactly as I should be. I know that my heart is the most attractive thing about me and everything else is an extension of that radiant inner-beauty. There is no need to try and get you to like me because I love myself.
Hair is just hair however; we must be careful that the things we do to compliment our natural beauty on the outside does not overshadow what is on the inside. If you’ve ever worn a plastic mask for any amount of time then you know it becomes uncomfortable after a while. You get hot and sticky and you want to take it off. Once you remove it, you’re free!
There is only one you. Embrace who you are and know that you alone have the ability to change the way you view yourself (p.s. yours is the only one that matters). Do not waste any time comparing yourself to other people. Never judge your insides based on someone else’s outsides. My loving friends and support network taught me that. Whatever your style is make sure it’s you being you and not an image of who you think you’re supposed to be. God bless and keep you until next time.