Everyone has their definition of what beauty is. For most women, hair is almost always in the equation. Women and men often experience a boost in self-confidence and self-esteem when their hair is tamed and on fleek. And when you are used to having things a certain way, it’s sometimes hard to embrace change, whether it’s good or bad.
For most brown girls, the “creamy crack”—a white chemical called a relaxer meant to permanently straighten curly and kinky hair—was an important step in haircare. Prior to the natural hair movement that began in the early 2000s, women of color relied on the haircare technique to straighten out any unwanted kinks, curls, and naps. For some, this process was the only thing they knew. They didn’t know that underneath the relaxer there were beauty in those textured coils. They didn’t know how strong and pretty their hair could be without it. But as more women grew tired of the monthly process of applying a perm, they began to go back to natural. In turn, they learned through trial and error how to better take care of their kinky, curly textures without using manipulation to do so.
The only way to remove the relaxer is to either transition—grow it out and snip away the ends with regular trims—or cut the relaxed ends off in one sitting, which is known as the “Big Chop”, This usually results in having a TWA—a Teeny Weenie Afro. Transitioning from relaxed to natural takes up a lot of time and requires dedicated patience that most of us don’t have. When working with two different hair textures, straight and kinky, it often limits the hairstyles and techniques options available to choose from.
Some people opt for the “Big Chop” because it is the quickest way to start your natural hair journey but, it is also the most trying. There is something about going through major changes that shines light on what it is you really feel about yourself and where your self-confidence and esteem lies.
I remember when I first did the “Big Chop,” I was so insecure, and I was not comfortable with it, at all. I thought to myself, why did I do this? I immediately threw some braids in it because I didn’t like it. I disliked the way I looked, I didn’t know how to embrace the teeny weenie afro; I wanted my hair back and fast. I was used to having my wraps—a hairstyle achieved by combing the hair around the head—and weaves. My hair was so short I couldn’t do anything to it. And I am almost certain, I cried. I just recall my mother asking me with her hands on her hips, “now what are you going to do?”
It definitely takes courage to accept the natural and embrace everything you were given at birth. It puts the spotlight on some of the deepest fears, and it highlights the opinions you hold for yourself and the insecurities kept when it comes to what others think of you. It broadcasts what you don’t know about yourself and your textured hair. Not only this, but it shows you just how much you know about your history, culture, and heritage.
To even choose to take on a hair journey such as this takes strength and fearlessness. It teaches you how to stand firm in who you are, with or without hair. It shows you how beautiful you are and how other people’s opinions really don’t matter. You were born beautiful, and you are naturally pretty. Never alter any parts of yourself just to fit in or to live up to other people’s expectations. Do it if it makes you happy. Be comfortable with yourself inside and out and always stand firm in the gifts you have been given. Having textured hair is a gift. It is versatile and unique, it defies gravity, and there is power in each strand. So, go ahead, brown girl, and give the universe everything you’ve got. Never fear the process, dive deep, and swim back to your natural self no matter how scary it is.
Photo Credit: @Oprahwinfreyy_
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