My name is Desirae. I absolutely love your website. I check it EVERY day. I love what you do and the fact that you give all of us a place to connect and bond. In this crazy world, it’s nice to have a safe haven where it’s nothing but love for each other.
I have been wanting to submit something to your site since July (when I officially started transitioning). I had even started my own blog that was based on natural hair as well as weight loss because I was going through both journeys at the time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find time to keep the blog going so I took it down. I can’t help it anymore..I had to write to you. Hair was something I used to define how I felt about myself. If I was having a bad hair day then it was a bad day all around. You couldn’t tell me nothing if my hair was jacked!!
I have battled with my weight since I was in middle school. I was what my family called a “skinnie minnie” when I was in elementary school. I began to gain weight in the 4th grade. I had a ton of friends then and I never noticed I was getting bigger until one day when I was running to the lunch line with my friends. I heard this kid from another class tell his friend “Let’s hurry up before she eats all the food.” At first, I wondered who he was talking to until to my horror I saw he was pointing at me. From then on, my hair was my shining glory. I had always had long, thick hair. I got compliments every time I went to a beauty salon. Sadly, I only felt pretty when I was being complimented on my hair. My mother and my aunts knew how to press hair so I was fortunate enough to not have to perm my hair.
I didn’t know how to really take care of my own hair so when I got older I had to learn how to straighten it. It was either that or be subjected to wearing my hair in buns for the rest of my life. I was terrified of having some freak accident with the hot combs…I am extremely clumsy!!! So I wore buns and ponytails when I didn’t have someone to do my hair. The strain from “too tight” buns and ponytails destroyed my hairline (I’m still trying to get that mess back!!). My hairline wasn’t the only thing that took a beating because of my buns and ponytails. My self-esteem plummeted as well. It’s sad to say it now but I did not feel pretty unless my hair was straight and down my back. In retrospect, I realize that is because no one at school ever complimented me on anything unless my hair was straight. After months of ponytails, I would come to school with my hair pressed and the girls in my class were full of compliments. They wanted to touch it, like it was this foreign thing at a museum. Mind you, I went to a school that was predominantly Caucasian. They asked me how I had gotten my hair straight and so long so quick. The nice answer, “My hair was in a bun..duh!! They would say they liked my hair better that way. The questions were confusing but I adored the compliments. I started begging people to straighten my hair. I needed to look how society wanted me to look. I felt like it was the only was I could be accepted. I decided that if I could not be the thin girl, then my hair was definitely gonna be crackin’. The state of mind continued until I got to college.
I moved away to Riverside. I started flat ironing my hair. I would style my hair and wrap it on a Saturday. Of course, the scarf would fall off my hair so I would wake up with dents and crazy hair. I busted out the flat iron and went to work! Yes, I put heat on my hair almost every day. I cringe just typing that now. My hair began to break off. My hair had once been past my shoulders but I had fried it to above my chin. I started falling in love with curly hair back in 2007. I wanted it but curling irons and I did not get along. Like a lame, I put a texturizer in my own hair. HUGE MISTAKE!!! The breakage got worse and I was horrified. I was losing the only thing that made me feel good about myself. I went to my hairdresser and asked for her help in fixing the mistake I had made. I had just gotten a new job so I had to get myself together. She told me that I could only grow the texturizer out. I didn’t know anything about hair so I told her it was her choice…she was the expert!! Her course of action was to cut the damaged ends off and perm my hair. She later wrapped it with wrapping mousse. I regret that decision to this day.My hair was stiff and smelled like it was burning ALL the freaking time. That was January 2008. That was the last day I put any chemicals in my hair. I continued flat ironing my hair turning to my friends for advice on how they retained their length. I even bought the exact same flat iron as one of my friends that had hair similar to how my hair had once been. Then I stumbled into the virtual world of natural beauty. I googled “Caring for African American Hair” and a list of sites popped up. I clicked one and the rest is history. It was like Myspace..you know you found your friend’s page and they have a flirty comment from someone you don’t know. You click that person’s page and next thing you know you are looking at some random person who lives thousands of miles away…oh…was that just me?? Anyways I just followed this string of websites until I had all of this information I never knew existed. I knew nothing about this community I have come to love with all my heart. It was like finding this different world. July 2009 was when I decided I wanted to be natural. September 2009 was when I decided I needed the relaxed and damaged ends to go away. I chopped them all off myself!!
I have learned so much about myself. I have gained so much confidence from letting my natural hair be. CN.com and YouTube are my addictions right now. I have to literally pull myself away from them. I have so many friends in my head..it’s ridiculous!! I am still battling with my weight but being on this natural journey has made that battle fade. I still want to lose weight to be healthier but I look in the mirror and I love what I see..curves, love handles, big hair, and all! I don’t define myself by how my hair looks anymore because there are days when people hate my hair and tell me so..but I couldn’t care about that. I love my hair. It’s a part of me and learning to love this part of me has helped me learn how to love all of me. My favorite thing to do is when I detangle my hair with conditioner in it, I look at my natural curl pattern in the mirror. I walk around the house showing everyone these cute little coils I never knew I had. I want to thank you Nikki and all the lovely ladies who share their stories. Some of you have helped me deal with my life issues and I could never thank you all enough.