My name is Lukeki and I am a writer over at Natural Notebook, a natural hair and lifestyle blog based in London. This year I’ll be 4 years natural (Woop Woop!!). When I first went natural I never thought I’d reach this milestone so I’m glad I’m still loving my natural hair!
Three years ago I decided to chop of my chemically straightened hair and remain with my natural curly kinky hair. I had long, thick, chemically straightened hair for a very long time (the last time I had an afro was when I was a child and I don’t remember it very well), so I was used to seeing my hair straight.
What happened eventually as a result of using relaxers over a period of time to permanently straighten my hair was that my hair was limp, dull, and lifeless. Due to the harsh chemicals I had some minor damage along my hairline. I decided I needed a change and after being envious of my sisters thick natural hair, seeing some bloggers that I followed at the time go natural and after seeing how having straight hair was perpetuating a standard of beauty to my youngest sister, I decided to take the plunge and cut off my hair.
The actual day I cut my hair I didn’t feel too bad about it because I was excited to just have my curly hair in a tiny afro. For the first few days I was rocking my hair feeling uber confident, strutting around looking cute. However I wasn’t expecting to be shocked every time I walked past a mirror or car window and saw this person with short hair. I wasn’t expecting to not feel “beautiful” because my new look was SO different to what I normally had. I wasn’t expecting to start thinking about beauty and the beauty standards that somehow subconsciously we follow. I wasn’t expecting to witness the impact these beauty ideals had on younger girls and how by cutting my hair and challenging what was the norm in my life, I positively built the self-esteem of my younger sister. I wasn’t expecting my choices to have a positive influence on my friends and family giving them the possibility of trying something different. I wasn’t expecting to become more confident in myself and who I was. I wasn’t expecting to love my hair in its curly and fluffy state.
So what, you might be saying, it’s just hair. Well yes it is in one sense, but in another sense it’s not just hair. It’s connected to what we think is beautiful and how we see ourselves in accordance to that. In this world where we as women, from all backgrounds, are constantly being told we could be better if we just changed different aspects of ourselves to look like a specific picture of beauty, it’s important in our own way to take control of what we let influence us and define what our core standards of beauty are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s bad to try and improve yourself to become better. What I am saying is be aware that the widely accepted ideal of beauty (ironically) doesn’t fit everyone, and instead of killing yourself to try and meet it, or beating yourself because you don’t, create your own standard so that you are happy with the way you look.
So if you aren’t a certain size, choose to eat healthily. If you have acne prone skin, look for ways to combat that. But do these things because you want to not because you feel pressured to. Do things that help YOU feel confident about YOU!