Let's talk about hair and self image for a little bit, k? You know for the longest time I tried to convince my younger sister (who was natural for most of her life before she relaxed, due to 'unmanageability') to return to natural. I was convinced that since I had learnt to take care of my hair; she would have a much easier time of it because I could teach her. But she would say two things to me:
1. "Rella you know how to do hair so it's much easier for you to make your hair look good"
2. "You're comfortable with it. It looks good on you but I don't think it would on me"
Both of these responses would get me equally frustrated but in completely different ways. For the record by do hair she meant that I could braid, canerow, flat twist etc.
Now that I think about it, both responses frustrated me in the same way. Because it kind of minimalised the hard work I put into arriving at the hair place that she saw me at. You know, when people see you, they don't see all it took for you to be there, in front of them, they're just seeing the present you. Not all the other versions of yourself that came before.
What do I mean? Well to the first point, I didn't come out of the womb braiding ish. I made a conscious decision to learn how to do it when I was like 9. And practiced and practiced until I had it down. So by the time I started my hair journey, I had close to a decade's worth of experience. So that's why she saw it as easy. She didn't see my practice braids, or my struggle parts. All she sees is the dope ish I come out with after years worth of practice.
But that's not what I want to focus on. I want to talk about the second point, the comfortability. Now that is something I had to work at. I had to work at liking my hair. I had to teach myself to like it. I had to unlearn every standard of beauty I'd been taught and eject every beauty ideal I'd internalised. For a long time my hair made me uncomfortable. I saw it as ugly and inferior. When I started my hair journey those feelings didn't magically disappear. In fact I developed even more inferiority complexes rooted around hair type.
See the thing is though, I didn't let that stop me. I had a goal that I wanted to reach. I wanted to learn how to take care of my hair and see it as beautiful and I was determined to work to get to that place. Because of this, every day I would look in the mirror and feel uncomfortable but I would tell myself my hair is not ugly because it is, my hair is ugly (to me) because I was taught that it was. I told myself that, until I didn't have to anymore. Until that deep rooted shame was expelled and in it's place was planted a pride so deep that nothing can shake it. Until every ounce of ugly was replaced with beauty in my eyes and a reminder that my design was not a mistake. My hair is not a coincidence, but an intention.
So I just wanted to come here and tell you, that it's ok to not like your hair. It's ok to feel uncomfortable with it, but they're not feelings that you have to settle for. If you're willing to work through it, a much brighter place is on the other side of that darkness.
Until next time,