When I was in elementary school, each morning my mother poured a ton of hair gel into my hair. I remember the agony I felt as she brushed through endless, stubborn knots, tying my hair in a hairdo so tight I felt it tug on my scalp.
Other days, it would be in a loose ponytail, exposing my unkempt hair. And I can’t forget the fashionable headbands that kept down my untamed baby hairs — which my friends remember me by to this day.
Growing up as a mixed girl, I didn’t know anyone who was educated on taking care of curly hair.
It was rare to see girls with hair similar to mine. Going to school every day and seeing all my classmates with quote-unquote “flawless” straight hair — the complete opposite of my poofy curls — made me feel like an outcast. Soon enough, I resorted to straightening my hair. One day of straightening my hair eventually became two years.
As I continued to straighten my hair, I suffered long-term damage that made me feel even more insecure. When I glanced in the mirror, I noticed countless split ends and lifelessness in my hair.
Finally, I put down the hair straightener and started researching how to revive and properly take care of my hair, watching hundreds of YouTube videos and finding the best hair care products. The most painful experience of all was saying goodbye to the majority of my hair by having it chopped.
I have come a long way on my journey to embrace my natural hair, and I’ll admit, I’m still learning. However, I am coming to appreciate my hair, even on occasional bad hair days when I just want to wrap it in a bun.
Being natural has taught me that accepting yourself for who you are, inside and out, is an important step toward self-discovery, self-growth and self-love.