by Bennii Blast of The Culture Pine

This time last year, I was sat in front of the TV with a fresh pack of yaky, throwing instructions at Mamma Jay when she asked ‘how many tracks do you want in the back?’ I remember the first time like it was yesterday. It was the day of my prom, and I had just arrived back home after spending hours at the nail shop. That was the fateful day that opened my eyes to a new idea of beauty, and slowly but surely – it sucked me in.

It’s hard to believe what a difference four years can make. For one thing, I cannot stand having fake nail extensions or hair extensions anymore. There is something about nail extensions that make my hands feel weird. Then there are the hair extensions. The flame I once carried for them has become a memory. Even now that I have started transitioning, I have contemplated protective styles such as kinky twists, or the braids I had in the first couple of months, but they just don’t appeal to me anymore.

Now I’m not making any sort of generalisation, but I believe that for me personally, I was hiding behind these extensions of beauty to inject some sort of false confidence. If I convinced myself enough that it was the truth, then everything would be fan-tabby-hooby. Wrong! I was kidding myself – ignoring a problem does not make it disappear. I have learned that the hard way, and four years later I have to go right back to the start and deal with something that surfaced a long time ago. Believe me, it’s everything BUT easy.

Yesterday I made a hair faux pas, and I am currently sat here with a towel around my head, after washing away my mistake. As I type this, I realise that the ‘me’ back then would have put it off and wallowed in self-pity. Today however, I have dealt with the problem straight away and feel better for doing so. It may be the smallest thing, but it indicates a lot for me and I see how much transitioning has aided me in conquering my insecurities. It has helped me develop a tougher skin, as we all know that society still has a long way to go when it comes to natural hair, and it has allowed me to get to know myself all over again.

I guess my final thought is this: a life of avoidance will catch up with you in the long run. No matter how many layers of foundation or hours at the hair salon you rely on – the issue will still be there. It may seem hard to deal with now, but it will get ten times harder the longer you brush it off.

Do you wish you had made your journey to natural sooner?