This is the second in a six-part series featuring real Black women and their thoughts about their natural hair. Join us each Monday (until the end of February) to celebrate our natural Black hair and ALL that it means in our lives. We hope these stories help you to enjoy a feeling of empowerment about your coily, wavy, or curly hair no matter how you choose to wear it!
My Natural Hair Journey: Lydia Iseh’s Story – The Good, Bad, and Everything Else
I’m not even going to lie. I always admired straight, long hair as a child. My hair was jet black, and everyone would comment on how shiny it was (my mum used to apply shea butter whenever she had the chance). I loved the compliments, but I wasn’t happy because my hair wasn’t as long and straight as I saw on TV. I hated that my hair could be long one day and shrink the next; it was also difficult for me to style it as I wanted to.
Check out these CurlyNikki post on how to show off the true length of your natural hair:
My sister’s birthday was coming up and it was supposed to be a big celebration. I knew that I wanted to do something different with my hair. So, when my mum wasn’t home, I called my friend and we gathered all the hair products we could find. One after the other, without knowing what was what, I applied them to my hair and waited for the magic.
I’m not even going to lie. I always admired straight, long hair as a child.
I just wanted straight, long hair. I thought that the longer the products stayed, the longer my hair would become. Boy, was I wrong! When I finally decided to wash my hair, I found that strands kept falling off. Soon, I was able to comb out big chunks of hair at once. My friend and I became hysterical as this was DEFINITELY NOT what we were expecting.
Hours later, my mum came home and saw the disaster that was my hair (and the crime scene that we had made of the bathroom). Another immediate, thorough washing wasn’t enough to save my hair. Most of it was gone, and I had to visit the barbershop immediately.
Embrace your natural hair, no matter the length! Read:
I want to tell you that it was then that I learned to love my natural hair, but no. That’s not what happened. I was sad that I had to cut my hair and couldn’t even style my hair for birthday parties. When I got older, my mother advised me to grow my hair again but made me promise not to apply different products to my hair. In her words, “your hair is a reflection of you. If you shower it with love, it will grow with love.”
I loved the compliments, but I wasn’t happy because my hair wasn’t as long and straight as I saw on TV.
As I began to grow my hair again, I slowly realized that my kinky hair was my unique identity as a Black woman, one to be proud of. And, the more I cared for it, the healthier it became.
I spent my early 20s trying to find the secret to maintaining my hair. This journey made me aware of a lot of misconceptions I had about my hair. While some of these falsehoods were a result of my constant obsession with straight and long hair, others were due to sheer ignorance.
For example, I once thought that my natural hair didn’t grow. Now I understand that my hair grows all the time, only that I don’t get to see it because it shrinks. I’ve also found that hair length depends on numerous factors.
As a child, I internalized most of these myths because of what I saw on TV. I’ve come to learn that the relationship I have with my hair is personal and takes time to understand. It is my responsibility to unlearn these myths and find out what works for me.
It is my responsibility to unlearn these myths and find out what works for me.
I’ve come a long way from that young girl who damaged her hair because she wanted straight hair, but I have realized that not everyone has evolved. At work, people still view black hair as “unprofessional” and believe straight hair is the ultimate standard of professionalism. This is untrue. Hair is just that — hair.
It shouldn’t define whether or not women are good at their jobs. I think it is everyone’s responsibility to make the work environment a safe space for women to show up as their authentic selves. Imagine how much of a difference that would make on any company’s productivity!
Talking about evolution, I wish Black naturalistas were more accepting of Black women who have chosen relaxers and texturizers. It doesn’t make them less proud of their heritage, and it doesn’t make them less Black. It only makes them human, and being human means exploring new ways to make your life more enjoyable. If that means texturizers and relaxers, why not?
Hair is just that — hair. It shouldn’t define whether or not women are good at their jobs.
Truth be told, caring for natural Black hair can be time-consuming and expensive, especially in this fast-paced world we live in. No one should be judged for using relaxers and texturizers to achieve an easier lifestyle. The natural hair movement should focus more on making Black women comfortable with whatever they decide to do with hair.
It should teach Black women freedom of hair expression instead of forcing a transition from one beauty standard to another. Black women should be able to define their beauty in whatever way they want. No one, Black or White, should tell a Black woman what to do with her hair.
In my experience, no hair type is more misunderstood than kinky hair, and no two Black women have the same hair or hair experiences. I have learned what works for my hair by continuously caring for it. My hair has taught me to embrace my full self and find peace with who I am. It has taught me to shut my eyes and ears to the world’s unrealistic beauty standards and to appreciate my uniqueness.
In my experience, no hair type is more misunderstood than kinky hair, and no two Black women have the same hair or hair experiences.
Get tips on hair growth from these popular posts:
By loving my natural hair, I’ve learned that I don’t need validation from anyone but myself. My natural Black hair is my identity as a Black woman, and so, it’s a big deal for me. People say I’m patient and meticulous. Well, have you tried to detangle Black hair when it’s in knots? That requires patience!
My hair is more than just a beauty statement; it is a part of me. No matter what happens, I know that being Black and having naturally curly hair are two things I’ll never trade for anything.
Lydia is a writer with years of experience in writing SEO content that provides value to the reader. As someone who believes in the power of SEO to transform businesses, she enjoys being part of the process that helps websites rank high on search engines.