Meet Ebony… her self-esteem issues went out the window with her relaxed ends.

After a long debate with myself, I decided to share my story. I have been a regular browser of the site for a while now and I use the forum on a daily basis. The love and support there is truly encouraging and uplifting. My journey to natural hair began in April of this year after my last relaxer around April 14.

Throughout my life, I have always had long, thick, coarse hair. I was relaxed at an early age and my mother would always receive compliments on how nice my hair looked. I never had many problems with damage from relaxers and throughout school, I never saw anything wrong with getting one. There was no one around me rocking their natural hair so I didn’t know too much about anything other than relaxers. I started doing my own hair around 15. I did my relaxer every 4 weeks, trimmed every 8 weeks and made sure that I kept my hair and ends moisturized and wrapped up at night. I even cut my own hair in a short bob during my 11th grade year.

Even though I had long, pretty hair, I have always struggled with my self esteem. There were times in my life that I would get depressed and feel so sorry for my self, I would find myself just crying for no reason at all and feeling as if I could not control it. I felt ugly and if my hair was not bone straight, thanks to a fresh relaxer, it made me feel even worse. I had attachment issues in every relationship I was in and I felt like it was necessary to be in a relationship, so that I would not feel lonely. When you are not able to love yourself for who you are, then of course you are not comfortable with yourself. It was like I was scared to face the real me and deal with the issues I had struggled with for so long. I felt like “good hair” and someone to love me or at least act like they loved me would be all that I needed. When I got ready to leave for college, I knew I wanted to change my hairstyle but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. That October, I cut my hair in a short bob again when I came home for Fall Break. I loved the cut for a while but decided to grow my hair back out to its normal length. While researching healthy ways to do that, I stumbled upon some natural hair care sites. I began to get a little more serious about my research on natural hair in November of 2009 and in December I had decided to transition. This transition lasted until about mid February, when I relaxed again, out of frustration with my hair. Around my birthday in March I started researching natural hair again. After a few days of non stop youtube videos, I asked myself if it was something that I was really ready to do. I did research for weeks and contemplated the decision and finally in April, with the support of my boyfriend, I decided to try to transition again. My last relaxer was around April 14, 2010 as a “farewell’. I had planned to transition until New Year’s 2011 and start the new year off as a natural. The first month of my transition I wore my hair in kinky twists and in a bun so I never really had to deal with it. During the second month is when I began playing around with natural styles and trying new products. I also began posting in the CurlyNikki Forum, which was a big help to me during my transition. There are a lot of ladies there that are willing to share their experiences with their hair and give advice on how to care for transitioning and natural hair.

My issues with myself were starting taking their toll on my relationship with my boyfriend. We were coming up on our one year anniversary and I didn’t want anything to ruin the hard work and time we had devoted to building our relationship.During this transition, I began to focus on my self esteem issues and I realized that the only way to be truly happy with myself, and to be able to love someone else, was to be able to love myself for who I was, the way that God made me. If I was going to love myself, I would have to do it no matter what I looked like or what my hair texture was. With Gods help, during the last few days of my transition I began to understand this and I was able to start making changes that helped me to move forward. Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at around 2 am, I decided that the only way to love myself and my hair was to embrace it no matter what length it was and no matter what I looked like. I didn’t tell anyone what I was about to do and I went in the bathroom, blasted India.Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” and Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine” and started chopping away. I had shoulder length hair (straightened) when I started and ended up with a TWA that was about an inch and a half to two inches long and I loved it!

The big chop was the most liberating experience I had ever had in my life! It seemed like all of the depression and anxiety I had been dealing with fell to the floor with the hair that I was chopping. Almost immediately, my self esteem issues were out of the window and I could look at myself and love the person I saw looking back at me.

Since my BC, my self confidence has really improved. I do realize that it’s going to be something that I have to keep improving and keep working on, but since going natural, I have had nothing but good days. I rock my TWA with pride, knowing that I can honestly say I love myself, making it easier for me to truly love someone else.

Since going natural, I have learned that almost every question you have about natural hair can be answered on the internet. There are numerous forums, including the CurlyNikki forum and websites that cater to natural hair and how to care for it. I’ve also learned that what works for one natural, may not work for all naturals. Some advice I would give to others is to embrace your hair, no matter the texture and if you’re thinking about going natural, do as much research as possible and make sure that it is something you really want to do because it takes commitment and dedication to properly take care of your hair and to grow it long and healthy. If anyone came up to me and asked me if they should go natural, I would scream GO FOR IT!