My hair has always been massively thick and curly, and, growing up, I was never really sure how to do it or really what to do with it. My mother would keep it in braids or puffs or pigtails or beads – anything to tame my mane, really. However, as a symptom of her lupus, she developed rheumatism which made dealing with my grade and density of hair really difficult; now it was up to me to do my own hair.
I hated my hair. Looking around everyone had smooth, straight, manageable hair they could scoop into high ponytails with ease that never frizzed or puffed. My hair, on the other hand, took at least one hour to do every night, and that was on a good day. Then, one day (I’m not really sure when or from whom), I learned about the flat iron and its magical straightening powers. Although it was a long and tedious process that took much practice to perfect, within three hours (yep, that’s right – THREE) my hair was transformed into a waterfall of smooth and voluminous locks, straightened to perfection. To me, the flat iron was a God send; no more kinks and unruly curls and snapping brushes and combs trying to pull them through the mass of hair on my head. The flat iron was the best thing that ever happened to my hair, right?
WRONG. What I thought was helping my hair really was damaging it. About every 3 days, I would faithfully straighten the curls out of my hair, and as time went on I started noticing my hair getting thinner and thinner. I had bangs at the time (since I could wear my hair straight), and that was the area I flat ironed the most. I would pull on the hair in my bangs and it would snap easily. I compared it to the hair elsewhere on my head and it was much thinner. I knew this method could be trusted because the strands of my hair have always been thick allover, so seeing otherwise let me know what was happening. However, this still wasn’t enough to dissuade me. The damage I had caused truly didn’t hit me until one day, when I stepped out of the shower, I noticed my hair didn’t curl anymore but fell completely straight. All that remained was thin and brittle hair, and, surprisingly, my lack of curls actually saddened me. As much pain (and headaches) that my hair caused me, I realized that it was a part of who I was and being ashamed of it compromised the health of my hair and, on a larger scale, a part of my identity. A few months later from that moment, in February of 2013, I decided to cut it off and let it grow just the way it is – curly! I now rock the fro proudly and let my hair do what it does best. A change in hairstyle wasn’t needed, just a change in perspective.