I started wearing relaxers at the ripe old age of 12. My mom is a hairstylist, and has always been so busy that it was easier for her to put a relaxer in our hair to make styling quicker. I didn't mind using relaxers, I actually preferred it. I hated my natural hair, but why wouldn't I?
I didn't know how to maintain my coily locks. My dry, natural hair was tough, and so unhealthy it was constantly breaking. I remember coveting my white girlfriends' long hair, so when my mom said I was old enough for relaxers, oh, was I a happy girl.
The Natural Hair Movement
There has been an extraordinary change over the last couple of years thanks to this movement that not only promotes health, but empowers black women. We are learning to embrace our natural beauty, and to love ourselves. So many incredible sisters have been able to leave a mark in the business world as well.
But are our daughters listening?
I have 3 beautiful girls ranging in age from 5 to 1, and this Christmas, I opened more than 10 Barbie boxes. Everytime I saw a white doll, I cringed. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a little black girl playing with a white Barbie doll, but I can't help but wonder if it will somehow shape their definition of beauty...
I am determined to keep my daughters' natural until they are old enough to decide if they prefer to try other things. Not because I want to force my beliefs in any way, but because I want them to understand that they are just fine the way they are. If they choose to use relaxers or wear weaves in the future, I need to know that it is not because they think it will make them look better.
The first time I had to go more than a week without a relaxer (because I could not afford one), I cried. I literally became depressed, and lost all my self confidence. Transitioning for me was a health conscious decision, but I also knew it would be an incredible test for me. I reverted back twice before finally hanging in there.
Although it took a long time, I have learned to love my hair. The first step was learning to care for my hair, and realizing that when it is healthy, it grows and actually looks great. I don't want any of my girls to endure what I have had to endure. I want them to know, always, that they are stunning. The texture of their hair is what makes them unique, and that it is to be embraced, nurtured, and accepted.
As we all celebrate this amazing movement, we need to remember that our daughter's are, still immersed in a culture that challenges the idea of black beauty at every turn.