gotta love that afro hairdo

gotta love that afro hairdo

I’ve had an afro for only about 5 years now. Before having a mass of curls atop my head, I used to have straight, stringy, lifeless hair.

My mother gave me my first chemical relaxer when I was about 2 years old. Of course nobody told her that I was a bit too young for the harsh lye to be applied to my scalp, and it resulted in the majority of my hair falling out. After waiting a couple years, she tried again and thankfully the chemicals took. It would take a couple of years, but soon my mother was able to help my hair to grow back and reach just past my collarbone.

Once the time came for me to start junior high school, my mother and I both thought it was finally time for me to start doing my hair myself. With little knowledge on how to maintain healthy hair, I was heating my hair every day, puling it into ponytails almost just as often, and continued chemical treatments about every 4-6 weeks or so. Before finishing high school, my hair was thin and ratty looking, and came just below my ears.

It didn’t occur to me that my hair was just the same as anyone else’s hair (in terms of it’s molecular structure) and only things like curliness, thickness and color differed from my fairer-skinned counterparts. I truly believed that it was impossible for a woman with my skin tone to have long hair. It just didn’t happen-I mean, not unless she paid good money for it.

Once I turned 19 something suddenly clicked in my mind… Why was my mother pushing for me to straighten my hair in the hopes of having “a better shot at life” while simultaneously raising me to be proud of who God made me to be? How do I strive to be white and be proud to be black?

It was impossible.

I voiced my concerns and thoughts with my mother and just as I assumed, she was against me quitting the relaxers. There was a new pain that developed in me; some kind of growing pain that comes with finding out who you are and actually trying to live up to it. I pleaded with her for many months before she finally allowed me to skip my relaxers.

Still growing accustomed to the tiny afro sprouting underneath the damage, I struggled with my appearance for the longest time. Not my appearance as a woman. My appearance as a black woman. I waited until I mother was out of state for business, my father was away for work and my sister was at school. I scheduled my very first hair appointment ever in my life and let her go scissor happy.

How liberating my 20th birthday was…

Now 5 years later, I’m still learning how to fall in love with myself. While this journey initially started with me lopping of my hair to let curls spring forth, I’m still learning about how to grow as an individual apart from my family and friends. So for the ladies out there who have that stinging feeling in the pits of their stomachs telling something is wrong, listen. Be yourself. Be yourself.

Love your afro hairdo.