“Stay still or I’ll burn you,” my grandmother warned as she held the hot comb near my scalp.
I sat still as though my life—no, my scalp—depended on it. It was the most gruesome two hours of my life. Sweat and tears have taken place upon that chair. Still, I allowed my curls to be diminished, along with my confidence.
Anything for straight hair.
For me, hair expresses identity. I was not confident in my identity because everything in the Black community has been belittled, from their stereotypical “ghetto” attitudes, socioeconomic status, to something as simple as hair. I straightened my curly hair to cower away from expressing my identity. I did not dislike Black people, more so, I disliked myself.
As Spirit, a licensed therapist and life coach, once said, the matter relates to “issues around culture, class, racial identity, and self-esteem.”
My actions resulted in something far more than physical damage like split ends, but also psychological damages such as an identity crisis that would last from my elementary school days to high school until I stumbled upon YouTube videos catered to girls with curly hair. I was in awe of these YouTubers showing off their different curl patterns and styles. I admired their confidence and self-love. They were beautiful. I then used these girls as role-models to begin my natural hair journey.
I was self-conscious at first, but the longer I went natural, the more I did not care what others thought. The longer I went natural, the healthier my hair and mental health became. The longer I went natural, the more I began loving my hair and myself.
So, fellow curlies, I encourage you to embrace those curls. Embrace who you are. Because—pardon my language—screw society’s unrealistic beauty standards. We are all beautifully unique. Be proud.
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