This is the fifth 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: Geneva Patterson’s Story
My Hair, My Confidence.
One thing that I think all Black girls have in common is the fact that our hair played a very critical role all throughout our lives. For me at least, this was very true. I’d always had relatively long hair and my hair had always been curly. One can imagine that it wasn’t the easiest to take care of either as it was very thick.
So, for the majority of my life, I saw my hair as nothing more than a burden to me. It needed to always be bone straight or I wouldn’t be pleased. That is, until I realized that I didn’t even care for my hair that much. I only cared for what people thought of my hair. And that was when everything changed.
From that moment on, my hair meant freedom for me. It meant rebellion against the norms that placed constraints on me and it meant that I was never going to be controlled by them again because my hair was never going to be what society deemed as ‘manageable’ ever again.
One thing that I think all Black girls have in common is the fact that our hair played a very critical role all throughout our lives.
As it grows, I grow along with it. I now see it as nothing more than an extension of myself that follows me on this journey we call life. It goes through phases as I do and we endure various hardships together.
Get some natural hair journey inspo from our popular post: How to Embrace Your Natural Hair: 26 Famous Quotes About Black Hair.
One such hardship led to my act of rebellion against my former place of employment. I remember that day like it was yesterday. My hair had just begun growing out so it was still in its ‘mini-afro’ phase, and I had put it in a braid-out that I had unloosed that morning. My supervisor made a snarky remark about it. Calling it ‘something that’s meant for children’s parties and not for a workplace.’ Mind you, my hair wasn’t colored. It was simply curly and a little frizzy.
I don’t think I’d ever worn my hair to that office in anything other than an afro or something similar since that day. I had the freedom to do so, however, and I understand that not everybody can do that. To me, I’ve always seen it just as professional as any other style. Our performance is not affected by it and we look just as good wearing our natural hairstyles as we do wearing more ‘professional’ hairstyles.
As [my hair] grows, I grow along with it.
Read what CurlyNikki writer Onicia Muller has to say on the subject of navigating discourse in the workplace while on your natural hair journey: What Does Looking ‘Professional’ Mean For Women Of Color?
Be sure to also check out these hairstyles you can rock on any occasion while on your natural hair journey:
- Protective Natural Hairstyles: 21 Exquisite IG Loc Hairstyle Pics
- IG Natural Hairstyles: 21 High Bun / Top Knot Styles to Rock on Any Occasion
- 12 Simply Beautiful Halo Braids / Crown Braids Pics and 8 How-To Videos
- Natural Hair Styles: 27 Stunning Tapers and Fades
One thing that I have noticed, though, is that the public always has different reactions to our hair. Most non-Blacks, in my country at least, actively avoid commenting on it even if they stare at it blatantly. Very few times have I received comments on my hair from people that aren’t Black. I think that that’s because they know that hair is a sensitive topic–especially for Black women, and they know that some things can be taken in the wrong way so they just would rather avoid the topic altogether.
To say that I’m proud of the natural hair movement would be an understatement. Had it not been for this movement, I probably would’ve still been suffering relaxer and flat iron burns without complaining. I hated sitting through those sessions which is why I’m extremely happy that I made the decision to cut them from my regime. I’m even more proud that this is a movement that has reached even the poorest countries all over the world. Now, there isn’t a place you can go and not see someone sporting their natural curls and kinks. That’s something to celebrate. Girls who are no longer being burnt and suffering in silence but wearing the hair they were given as a badge of honor rather than one of shame. I am proud.
Related articles with wonderful haircare advice for your natural hair journey:
- 27 Really Gorgeous No-Heat Natural Hair Styles
- 7 Ways to Prevent Heat Damage to Natural Hair
- Can Heat Damaged Hair Be Repaired? Here Are 15 Awesome Tips
- All About the Heat-Free, Chemical Free Jheri Curl for Natural Hair
Now, there isn’t a place you can go and not see someone sporting their natural curls and kinks.
But, as humans, we can’t do one good thing without one bad thing also rising up. And the counterattack for girls wearing their hair proudly is the picking and choosing of what kind of natural hair is deemed as ‘presentable,’ and which type of hair fits the standard of beauty. The ones that do make the cut usually are the looser curls or the ones that are closer to flat as possible. While the ones that take the back burner are the ones that are more kinky than curly or are more ‘unmanageable’ than other hair types. It’s disgusting and shameful but, as the generations progress, I’m glad to say that there is slowly an elimination of this kind of thinking.
Another reason that I’m really glad that this movement has taken off is because of the fact that, someday, I intend to have children. And I don’t want those children to ever have to hear complaints about how their hair is so ‘hard’ to comb. I want them to learn to love their hair which is something that I learned way too late in life. Boy, was I missing out.
Hi, my name is Geneva Patterson. I’m from the small Caribbean island of Trinidad – home of calypso, soca, and the limbo. I am a writer, editor, beta reader, a bit of a perfectionist (LOL!) and still (happily) on my natural hair journey.
Be sure to stop by next Monday for the sixth and final installment in our My Natural Hair Journey series!!