I was flipping through the October issue of Hype Hair magazine, and there was an interview with Nicole Ari Parker. When she was relaxed and more importantly, since she went natural, she's been one of my hair inspirations. She said something in this interview that really connected with me:
I did the big chop and I did go through a personal phase where I had to adjust to not having long hair, and reevaluate my version of beautiful or sexy. Our hair is so emotionally connected to us. We’re used to being bombarded with images about what’s beautiful. I had to remind myself and reclaim my beauty and let my hair grow out of my head the way it wanted to. It really gave me myself back, and guess what?
The minute I stopped perming, the edges came back, the breakage stopped, my hair is thick and long, I can straighten in with a flat iron now, and if I want to have a longer style, I’ll add some extensions in the back.
I also have a daughter and I wanted her to love her hair. I wanted her to enjoy the thickness, the bigness, the lushness of her hair and I wanted her to enjoy the versatility. Sometimes she wants to wear cornrows, sometimes she wants to let it air-dry. And we wanted to raise a little girl who loves jumping in the pool! [Laughs] We were always taught to be afraid of water [getting our hair wet]. So it’s been a spiritual and a personal journey.
I also went through a long period of time where I had to re-define my idea of beautiful. I'll be honest- right before I went natural, I didn't care for a lot of the natural styles I saw out there. I made a conscious choice not to follow as many relaxed hair blogs anymore and follow more natural blogs. I created a natural hair pinterest board. And, I worked hard to appreciate my hair and other women's hair how it naturally grew from our heads.
I don't have a daughter, but I have a step daughter, goddaughters, and girl cousins and friends who probably look up to me and look at me as one example of a beautiful black woman. I want to show all of them that you can have thick, kinky hair and be beautiful. Even now, I still feel a certain way when I walk into an event with women who are all relaxed or have weave down their backs. But then I remember how unique I look, and how much healthier my hair is.
I also love swimming! Although my natural hair doesn't do exactly what I want it to do when it gets wet, I force myself to get my hair wet when I'm at the beach and enjoy my time in the water. I just bring a scarf or something to cover it after I swim if I need to!
These past two years have taught me a lot. Even on my bad hair days- or days I think are bad hair days - I carry myself like there's nothing wrong. I put on some red lipstick, cute earrings and a smile, and keep it moving. And you know what? Those are the days I get the most compliments on how pretty I look!