As early as childhood, I remember being a hair enthusiast: mixing up concoctions, spending HOURS in the mirror styling my hair, and losing myself within the pages of hair magazines. Thankfully, my mother and grandmother kept me natural for most of my life, despite me trying to relax my hair and loosen the texture as early as 9 years old. Funny enough, my family never told me I needed a relaxer or that my hair was “bad,” but the images I saw in books, magazines, and on television told me otherwise. At the same time, my grandmother’s hair was a different texture than mine (if I were to categorize it, it would be a mixture of 3a/b/c) and always received compliments on how “beautiful” it was. Even though I had not reached adolescence, I knew EXACTLY what they meant.
I always found myself in the bathroom trying to create a home-made relaxer (until I realized what the real ingredients were post my teen years). My favorite concoction consisted of Vaseline and whatever else I could put my hands on- how naïve was I?! After years of pestering, and despite my mother’s disapproval, my grandmother finally gave me my first relaxer (at the time we people liked to call it a “perm”). You’d probably be surprised to know that I was NOT happy with the turn out. While she was slapping the cream on my head, I was picturing what my hair would look like afterwards: shakable and able to be blown in the wind- just like I’d seen in the magazines for all of my short 13 years on Earth. But this is not how my hair turned out… at all.
My grandmother, bless her soul, did the best she could with a box relaxer. After it was all said and done, she slapped hair grease far and wide all over my head- making it impossible for my scalp to breath. The most disappointing thing was that my hair was definitely not going to blow in the wind, infact, it probably wasn’t going to move for weeks! On top of that, my scalp burned and my hair was now wavy- not bone straight!!! Well, that relaxer phase lasted about 6 months and then I gave it up to go back to being natural.
In high school, all the girls had relaxers (unless you were what we called “mixed”). Although I was natural, I didn’t wear my hair out because it didn’t hang- it just kind of sat there. No way was I going to wear my hair supposedly down when it didn’t even go past my shoulders. There was an unspoken code against such things. So after sometime, I got tired of feeling alone, unattractive, and left behind in the latest and greatest hair styles.
While standing in the lunch line, I remember a classmate of mine (a white guy whom I had a small crush on at the time) told me that my hair looked like a brillo pad. I actually did my hair very quickly that morning because I was running late. People around us laughed, heck, I even laughed because I didn’t know what to say in that second. I don’t think he knew the damage he did to my ego in that moment. It just so happened that I had an appointment scheduled that day to get my relaxer done at a salon. Eventually I responded “I know, right? I’m going to get a relaxer today anyway.” And that’s exactly what I did to boost my self-esteem and erase a version of myself that wasn’t accepted.
Fast forward 8 plus years later, and I’m a much stronger person. Though I’ve gone through other hair changes since my high school days, (that include relaxers, weaves, colors, cuts, dreads, sisterlocks, and more) I’m happy that I made my way back to my natural self. These days, I hardly make announcements to people when I’m going to make a drastic change to my hair because it’s my business. Below are some of the declarations I made to myself in order to stay true to my hair and who I am as a person. If anything, don’t ever forget who you are as a person and what you were born with. If you don’t have any hair declarations, feel free to use mine.
Natural Hair Declarations
• Before I abandon my natural-born hair texture, I’m going to fight for it and try hard to understand it.
• Never again am I going to let someone else’s feelings about my hair dictate what I ultimately decide to do with it.
• I’ll remember that people will always have an opinion about my hair (negative and positive) but in the end, my positive opinion will always matter the most.
• I will focus on learning about my texture: its beauty, its needs, and what I can do to keep it thriving and healthy.
• Every day, I will look for my true self, just as I was made to be- inside and out.
Holt is a woman who is constantly on a mission to learn the true her and
inspire other women to do the same. She believes the best advice comes
through sharing her knowledge and experiences in life. You can catch her
working hard, making her dreams come true, and lifting people up all at
the same time. “Tears are normal, but so are smiles…”
So far my natural hair journey has been positive. I haven't had any negative comments that has made me second guess myself about getting another relaxer & I'm very thankful to be embracing my natural beauty.
Meagan Montgomery: You are welcome. I'm so glad you overcame as much and built your confidence level to where it is- keep pushing!
Foxyrou: I love your confidence and firm stance. I hope others are inspired through you.
Taylor: Don't you worry about A THING, love. Know that negativity will come but just love yourself thorugh it and let your BEAUTY SHINE!
Anonymous July 9, 2012 9:34pm: What matters most is that YOU feel free. You have to live with yourself and you have to find those things that make you happy and whole. As for your daughter, thank you for setting an example for her to follow, she will thank you later 😉
Bridget/Sawah/Anonymous July 9, 2012: 5:12pm-6:46pm-7:25pm-/Dana/Hotmomc/Gwenn4ya/Anonymous July 10, 2012: 12:22am-5:09pm
Thank you lovely's!!
Anonymous July 9, 2012 1:54pm: thank you. Feel free to share this stroy with our daughters and sisters. Everyone needs a little encouragement sometimes.
Annie L.: Thank you so much. And yes, it took me awhile to stop saying "perm" lol!
Erika A: Thank you, and yes although it took time, I FINALLY realized as much.
Kudos: You're welcome. And yes, use whatever you need! I support you in spirit 😉
Alyx: I know, right? lol…
Haha, I agree @ Alyx.
I used the term "perm" (and usually still do).
To the author:
Thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoyed it and I'm glad you arrived to where you are now in your level of confidence and self-acceptance. You look great 🙂
It's funny: to black people "perm" meant permanent straightener. To everyone else – permanent curl. XD
…But your hair IS beautiful!!
And I'm going to take this declaration: "Every day, I will look for my true self, just as I was made to be- inside and out."
What an awesome story! I know how you feel. I'm glad that you worked thru those times during your "growing" years and realized what was important and good for YOU! No one knows what makes you happy and comfortable better than you do.
Love your hair now! Looks the best of all the pics….
LOVE THIS STORY!
Thank you for sharing your story. My last relaxer was 15 months ago and I big chopped 2 months ago. Prior to that, I relaxed my hair for 20 long years (10 years old to 30 years old!) My hair looks just like your last picture and I can't stop smiling whenever I look at that picture. Since my big chop, I have really had to work on my confidence when people tell me how much they miss my straight, long hair. However, I feel free! I did it for me and my 1.5 year old daughter. I hope to teach her that her hair is beautiful without the need to straighten it and I choose to be her example.
Love your hair and thanks for sharing your story. This was a lesson for other that you should always do YOU boo!
I always worry about negative comments from strangers since wearing my hair natural, but so far I haven't gotten any (even though I know my hair is a mess!) My mom is the only person who is leery of my natural-ness because she's been relaxing for so long but she's getting used to it. Actually, very few of my friends know I'm not pressing anymore so I'm a little nervous about seeing them before I get the hang of it!
Your hair looks great and I do find that there are alot of white people that love natural hair, some blacks not so much but considering the amount of Eurocentric brainwashing down through the centuries it's not surprising. Rock on to all of the natural beauties.
jasmine you mentioned having had sisterlocks. what was your experience? why did you decide to get rid of them?
I love your declarations. Wonderful story
I have been natural for about 20 months. I love my natural hair texture and usually rock a wash 'n go on most days. Every now and then I wear my hair in two-strand twists that I place in an updo, which appears to be my most popular hairstyle. It is probably because my hair look extra shiny in twists and people wonder if my hair is real or fake. But, my fav hairstyle is a wash 'n go. I like my hair to be free and out. The reviews are mixed when I wear my hair in its most natural state; some people love it, others hate it! The only thing that truly matters is that I LOVE IT! No matter how I wear my hair, I get stared at by strangers all the time and it can be an uncomfortable feeling, especially if the person is trying to make you feel insecure about your natural hair.
At the end of the day, the opinions of others is meaningless to me and I will not allow others to intimidate me into returning to a relaxer. They will have to get used to seeing a Black woman rock her natural hair with pride and love. I'm an independent thinker and I refuse to let the opinions of others make me feel insecure, ugly, or less than! Ladies rock your crown and glory with confidence. 🙂
I had one relaxer when I was 8 years old and my hair was dry and brittle and short from the breakage so my mom stopped relaxing, we called it a perm when I was younger too.
Thank you for this article, I remember at my college job hope people said things about my hair because it is tightly curled 3c/4a. People would ask me when I did wash n' go's did I cut it because of the strinkage I said no they give me a strange look (black girls who are relaxed). My boss loved it she is white. I only received complements from my own race when it was straight. I wanted to straighten my hair but something told me not to keep going and do not listen to what others think about your hair. I did not straighten and have more confidence then I ever had in my life.
Wonderful story. I don't remember what my hair looked like, however, when I was 13 years old, I do remember "begging" my dad let me relax my hair.
Inspiring story! I'm glad you finally feel free & confident with your natural hair texture. Your happiness is ultimately all that matters.
Congratulations on fully embracing your natural hair!
Great story of transformation! Laughing with the crowd at yourself – yup – it's painful and cringeworthy at the time especially if it involves your crush, but like the article shows, it does get better. Great affirmations and gorgeous hair and smile.
And I still call it a 'perm' because it was short for 'permanent straightener' back in the day, 'relaxer' came later.
Beautiful article! Every little girl needs to read this. In the end all you went through was worth it because it made you who you are today! Sometimes you just gotta tell people to kick rocks. No one needs to listen to anyone's unsolicited opinions. Our girls coming up will have more positive self esteem about their hair because even though they may not know us they will see us rocking our natural hair with confidence and our heads held high.