Learning to Love My Natural Hair
Now that COVID-19 has closed one of my favorite routines, Hair Salon visits, I am forced to wear my natural hair which is something that I haven’t been able to confidently do in years. Natural hair for people of color, specifically in the black community has a history rooted in ignorance, shame, and guilt. For so long, black people have used chemicals, processes, and extreme heat to tame our so-called “dreadful” hair. My son, Romeo, has brought up insecurities regarding his hair on several occasions. When he comes home upset about someone laughing at his hair, I immediately get upset and go into full-on #MamaBear mode! Recently he came to me, begging for me to cut his hair because no one had hair like him on his favorite TV show. I said, “Absolutely not! It’s one thing if you want a haircut because YOU want it, it another thing if you want a haircut because you feel insecure and want to hide it. Never change your appearance just to fit in and make others happy! You are handsome just the way you are!”
I felt so accomplished and like I just gave him the best uplifting speech ever, but Romeo rebutted, “Mom if you tell me to be proud of my curly hair, why do you hide yours?”
*Gasp.* I was completely caught off guard!
Romeo is always stopping me in my tracks with these simple yet super thoughtful questions. I began to contemplate…
- Why do I wear extensions so much?
- Why do I choose not to wear my natural hair?
- Why have I been hiding my hair under baseball caps and scarfs during this pandemic?
- Am I hiding who I am for the corporate setting?
- Do I not see my natural hair as beautiful?
I realized that I am not leading by example. I am going by the motto of “Do as I say and not as I do” which is an ignorant philosophy. I removed my extensions and began to wear my natural hair that following day and Romeo was so surprised; as was I!
I felt so powerful with my afro out yet so paranoid about what people would say when I got on the zoom video calls for work. Once I logged into my first video meeting, every woman of color that meeting complimented me on my natural hair. I felt like they welcomed me with open arms and that I was now a part of this amazing tribe of Shea butter and Curls!
Taking heed to the conversation Romeo and I had and deciding to lead by example is one of the best decisions I could have ever made. Challenging my fear of what others think of me was so empowering to me. Taking the power out of people’s opinions about my hair gave me the freedom to start living an unapologetic life which in turn showed Romeo that he should be confident and proud of who he is as well. My three lessons learned from Romeo teaching me to wear my natural hair are listed below.
- Never change anything about your appearance to please others! As long as you like it, that’s all that matters. Your happiness is more important than anyone else’s. This is your life!
- Embrace yourself in your natural state often. Go a day here and there with no make-up, no fake nails, and no extensions; just wear what God gave you and center yourself at times!
- Lead by Example. Whenever giving advice and offering an opinion on an issue, be sure to practice what you preach. People don’t want to follow someone who says one thing and does another. In other words… Walk it Like You Talk it!