I’m Me, naturally. It’s taken me quite a few years to accept that. Now this isn’t the first time expressing my Natural Hair Journey on the world wide. One of my first YouTube videos was about my journey to embracing my natural hair texture. I deleted it and a few other videos last year because I was in a down and doubtful state of mind. Here we are now, feeling great and accomplished actually to have gotten out of that rough patch. That natural hair video was missing all the crucial pictures anyway 😉 Enjoy! (If you hover over the pictures, there is a mini caption)
My mother is from Jamaica of African descent and my father was born in Canada of European descent thus creating me, fair skinned with freckles and my Afro-textured hair.
Aside from the body image issues I struggled with growing up which I wrote about here, I was very self-conscious about my hair. One of the main reasons I felt I stuck out like a sore thumb growing up was because of my features. There weren’t other girls who looked like me and silly as it may seem to others, I really felt like the ugly duckling for a majority of my childhood into my teenage years. The only celebrity who I remember remotely identifying with was Scary Spice. By age 11, I desperately wanted to chemically relax/perm my hair for the sole purpose of fitting in with the other girls in my school. I wanted to have pin-straight hair instead of big frizzy hair that my mom had to spend hours taking care of every Sunday for the school week ahead.
When I got my first perm at age 11, the hair dresser managed to not cut off all of my length. I remember my hair reaching to just above the middle of my back before I got a perm and my first hair cut. By the time I got to age 14 (graduation picture above) the breakage from chemical and heat damage started getting bad. The crown/middle of my head had the worst of the damage, followed by the perimeter of my head in which it looked as if I cut it to 2-3 inches long intentionally. Of course as a teenager I knew nothing about heat or chemical damage so my hair regimen remained the same as I would just keep cutting the rest of my hair shorter each year until I eventually decided to rock the short hairstyles.
During this period of short hairstyles is when I started experimenting with weaves/extensions as well as still perming my hair. I’d switch back and forth depending on my mood. There was actually one occasion when I glued the extensions in and when I removed them I was unable to get the glue off my hair. In a panic I figured completely buzzing everything off was the best solution. I did this effortlessly because my hair was already very short. At the time I was a high-school drop out (story time for another post) so I didn’t have a problem with spending my time out of the house in hats.
While my hair grew back, I played around with different styles and hair colors. In an effort to avoid any more glue dilemmas, I waited until my hair was long enough to corn-row so I could do sew-in weave styles. I wasn’t perming my hair at this time but instead doing hair masks every wash day to speed up growth and keeping my hair moisturized religiously while in braids. Once my hair was long enough again though… I got right back to perming and straightening my hair.
Shortly after turning 21 I had my last perm. In 2013 during my first pregnancy I made the conscious decision to cut out all hair and body products that had harmful ingredients. During this process I researched what exactly the ingredients in perms were and the effect they have on anyone who uses them. Initially I felt dumbfounded but all the damage and breakage I experienced throughout my perm years made sense. Not only did knowing the effects of perm on my body as a whole deter me from ever wanting to chemically process my hair again, but my pregnancy journey did as well. Through connecting with my unborn child and imagining future conversations we might have about similar issues I went through as a kid, I unlearned my bad habits and thoughts I had towards myself. As a child I was basically ashamed of my natural hair that grew out of my head, that was passed down from my mother and ancestors, that I will in turn pass down to my children. All these years I was stuck in the mind state of thinking my kinks and curls were ugly and unmanageable. In reality I never took the time to understand how to even take care of my hair texture properly, to love and appreciate it. Instead for years I put my health at risk to the point that I could’ve never been able to have children at all because the ingredients in perms are that detrimental.
Up until 2 months left in my pregnancy, I became impatient and frustrated with transitioning and went for the big chop and immediately fell in love with my hair texture. Videos on YouTube taught me a lot about the do’s and don’ts of natural hair care. During my sons first year and before the birth of my daughter, I played around with different protective styles with and without extensions. Towards the end of my second pregnancy I did get a bit bored of my hair and bleached it….did not turn out so well.
After my bleach disaster I grew out my hair and eventually cut the color damage out. I could tell my hair was damaged, even just slightly because I had a looser curl pattern for the length of my hair. While I’ve been wanting to color my hair again recently I’m actually kind of afraid of damaging it.
I usually keep my hair in braids (corn-rows or single), single twists. Every so often I will straighten my hair with a heat protectant and a few times a year I will do a protective style with extensions. I routinely deep condition my hair and I have yet to find the perfect wash n go routine. There are many styles on my list I’d like to try at least once. While there are still some bumps in the road like multiple curl patterns and moisture issues in various areas, etc that many naturals deal with, I love the versatile hair that I’ve been blessed with.