By DeMornay Harper
Blog Content Contributor
I’ve got a big curly fro. It’s the kind of hair that makes a statement. You know the type that walks into the room before you do? That’s my hair. When your hair is loud and proud 24/7, you either love it or you hate it. When you love it, it’s your baby and basically an extension of yourself. When you hate it, it’s an embarrassment that you either chop off or straighten to subdue it’s magic.
My hair journey was a long one. My hair is thick and hard to manage. For a single mom like mine, it was a daunting task, so I turned to getting my hair chemically-straightened at a very young age. Soon after, that was all I knew of my hair. The version that was weighed down by chemicals and that fit society’s demands for me to fit into what it deemed desirable. The fall after I graduated high school, I made it my mission to save my mane. It was incredibly damaged by this point and I knew I had to act quickly. The more research I did on how to breathe life back into my scalp, the more I realized that the chemicals that made my hair straight were the main problem. So I, like the impulsive Aries that I am, made the decision to make the “big chop” days after having this realization. The big chop in the natural hair community is when you cut off all of your chemically-treated ends and are left with just your natural curls. Well, when I got my big chop, I wasn’t left with much. I was rocking what pretty much looked like a buzz-cut and to say I didn’t question my femininity during that time would be a lie. It was a jarring experience, yet still so liberating for me. It was the first step in my newfound journey.
As I grew out my hair, I had no idea what to expect. To be honest, I was hoping for the type of natural hair that is showcased on social media. The kind of curly hair that you can throw up into a high bun and falls in ringlets when it’s wet. However, that is definitely not my hair; my curls are thick and unforgiving. It’s the kind of fro that I need a bottle of conditioner to detangle and there’s no running your fingers through it. My curl-fro sticks out from my head at 90-degree angle with no mercy, almost as if to say unashamedly “I have arrived.”
As my hair began to grow, I grew with it. I realized that if my hair is being unashamed, loud and proud then I should be too. It has helped me accept so many parts of myself that I had been trying to assimilate to my surroundings. It makes me feel more connected to my culture and my blackness than ever before. My hair is such an integral part of me now that I can’t imagine being without it. And the craziest thing is that this fro, that I was so worried about being too much or too out there, is loved and appreciated. I get praise and positive affirmations for it all of the time. It helps me to connect with others. It is almost like my hair is reaching out to the world around me and bringing it in close.
In the beginning of my journey, it made me question my identity; I felt like I had to change how I dressed to match my hair and it was almost as if I felt different in my own skin. Through this process, I came to understand that I was made this way with intention. Within that notion, I can see that all of the parts of me that make up the whole were made with that same purposeful intent. We are all little masterpieces in our own right and by accepting parts of ourselves one by one we can begin to accept our complete, bold, true selves.
Featured image courtesy of Briana Blueitt.