When I was a little girl, someone very close to me, told me quite often that I was an ugly duckling.
“You’re an ugly duckling,” they would say, “maybe someday you’ll grow up and be a swan…don’t worry about being pretty like your sisters. You’re smart, and that’s good too.”
My parents are both Puerto Rican. My father has afro textured hair, my mother has wavy, silky hair. Out of 4 children, three girls and a boy, I am the only one with afro textured hair.
It was a point of shame my entire life.
My mother used to take me to a barber when I was little. I was the only girl in the place. My sisters had long pretty braids or curly ponytails swinging as they walked.
I had a tight fro.
As I got older, my mother would take me uptown (we lived in Manhattan NYC), to the Dominican Salons. There the ladies would relax my hair and sit me under a dryer for about two hours (a long process), but I had straight hair. I felt kind of pretty like my sisters.
I was terribly bullied in school. I was short, super skinny, either with an afro or pin straight hair. My nose was large, I wore pink glasses, shy, and I was a book worm. LOL. Not a good combination in an inner city public school setting.
To put it mildly, my childhood was very painful.
I faithfully relaxed my hair. As I got older, if I couldn’t go to the salon, I would buy a box kit and do it myself. And I still never felt good about myself. Never liked looking at myself in the mirror.
I moved to Pennsylvania and married. I married a Irishman. We live in Central PA, in a very small town. And wouldn’t you know it, every single woman I know is caucasian. There is not one dark skinned, afro textured woman in my world. Not anywhere. It’s been very hard for me.
Back to the hair…
So spending my entire 20’s and early 30’s relaxing and processing my hair I began to have severe breakage. My hair was dry, stringy, over processed, over colored…in short it was a terrible mess.
And you know I was getting tired of it.
Tired of trying to fit in with the people around me. My own children have straight, wavy or soft curls. And I was always determined to look like them. To fit in. Cried many a time in the mirror wishing I had “white hair.”
And I was getting tired of it.
I started reading about hair on the internet. About self worth. About women….
And I came across the CurlyNikki’s website.
It was a God send. I read every link you had. I was starving for the freedom to finally understand myself, and accept myself. You spoke about the BC, and the two year Natural Hair Challenge. I started crying. I knew that I was ready. I wanted to love the Woman looking back at me in the mirror, but never knew how.
So Nikki, I Big Chopped. Took a pair of scissors and then clippers to my head and cut the relaxer off.
It has not been easy. Far from it. Remember my telling you that I live in a straight hair world? I’ve had to learn to suck in the tears, and wear my TWA, my TWIST OUTS, and my WASH N GO’S with confidence! I found strength by following the Natural Hair Community on Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.
I’m still the only one I know who looks like me.
And that’s ok…
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