I was in the fourth grade when I realized I was even more different from my classmates. Not only was I a black girl in a predominantly white Catholic school, I was a black girl with natural hair. Big, coily, course, voluminous, natural hair. Not only that, both my mum and my big sister had relaxed hair. I was the only one with natural hair, and I wasn’t allowed to change it. It became one of my biggest insecurities.
I never really had a connection to my hair. I was indifferent to it. But the girls in my school took their hair seriously doing loads of different hairstyles. Braids, weaves, clip-ins, and straightened hair. I had never altered my hair in any way, and the closest I’d been to a heat treatment was blow-drying my hair. One day after school, I begged my mother to straighten my hair. I wanted to know what it would be like. I wanted to care about my hair too. After a few days of begging, and a 6-hour hair session, my hair was bone straight. I arrived at school the next day with the biggest grin on my face. The amount of attention and compliments I received was exhilarating. My insecurity was temporarily gone.
Every year after that, my mum would only let me straighten my hair once or twice to avoid damage. It was amazing and my hair managed to stay healthy and long. This was until I joined a competitive dance team. My dance studio was very diverse, but when it came time for a show or competition, everyone, including the other black girls, would straighten their hair. In the dance world, especially at my studio, if your costume, hair, or makeup was not as instructed, you did not go on stage. So, in order to continue performing, I would agree with the ask to have my hair straight for competitions. The rush and excitement I felt in fourth grade came back each and every time. Everyone was always so fascinated by my no longer big, coily, course, voluminous, natural hair.
After four years of competitive dancing, I quit to focus on other activities. This was around the same time black girls and women were returning back to their own natural hair. My mother and big sister included. Seeing as I have been natural for all of my life, I wanted to join in on the fun and flaunt my hair too. This did not turn out as I expected. When it was finally time to embrace my hair, it was in bad condition after all of the heat I put on it. My hair was dry, brittle, and thin. This really upset me because now that I was ready to love my big, coily, course, voluminous, natural hair, it did not want to love me back. My hair insecurities came back.
So, I set out to heal my hair. I began to research my hair, my curl pattern, my hair porosity, and much more. It’s only been a little over a year, but through understanding what my hair likes and what it needs, I now understand where the hair pride comes from. My hair is now my crown and glory, something I’ve learned to hold extreme pride in. Not just because I know how to make it look good now, but because my hair is a part of my self-love journey. My big, coily, course, voluminous, natural hair makes me me.
Insecurity gone. Permanently.