Recently I’ve been trying to challenge myself to commit exclusively to wearing my natural hair out instead of depending on wigs and whatnot. I only went natural 2 years ago so before then, all I knew was relaxed hair and if I’m being honest, some days I want to go back to that. The journey to fully love and accept your natural hair is not as easy as people make it seem, especially since your journey may not have a destination. It may be an ongoing thing that you continually work through, learning and unlearning for the rest of your life and that’s okay.
Being dark skinned with natural hair is a bit of a double whammy, since it’s no secret most view those features as more masculine. We all know dark skin is associated with strength, brutality, and aggressiveness. Likewise, natural hair can be seen by some as not-so feminine since it’s not long and smooth and flowing down your back. When you’re dark with a fro that grows towards the heavens, some days you can feel less like a woman. Even worse, you feel like you have to overcompensate for not adhering to European beauty standards with your hair by wearing a ton of makeup, or showing more skin. You still feel like your femininity isn’t valid or balanced out simply because your hair is different.
I would love to be able to say I love myself fully and unconditionally, but I would be lying, and I don't like to lie. Because truthfully? I don't always feel like a princess, especially when I'm wearing my natural hair out. I have my days where I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t feel that pretty or feminine. I still sometimes resent the fact that my hair isn't smooth by nature and doesn't always move when my head does. That it doesn't sit on my shoulders and flow down my back. It feels like an ongoing battle that I keep trying to fight but I keep losing.
I keep thinking and saying to myself that I'll only truly and fully accept and love my natural hair unconditionally when it gets to a certain length, instead of loving it unconditionally the way it is now. For example, wearing my hair without stretching it is a huge no-no for me, I never ever wear my hair in a wash and go state because the shrinkage is wild and I'm truly not comfortable with how it looks on me, I never will be. My hair has to be stretched at all times with no exceptions. Is that something that will change? It doesn’t feel like it.
It pains me to admit these things but it needs to be said because faking the funk and covering up my issues will only go so far. I don't want to revert back to relaxing my hair and letting those chemicals seep into my bloodstream since I like the versatility of my hair, but most of the time I just don't even want to look like myself. I don't want my hair to be in its true natural state when it's air-dried. It's an inner-conflict that I flip-flop with almost every other day. "Do I embrace my shrinkage and natural hair? Or do I do what makes me feel good, even if the underlying reasons of me doing so stems from insecurity and unresolved issues with my hair?"
Even though the thought of having short hair annoys and scares me all at once, I'm mostly annoyed at the fact that I'm still concerned about my image through the eyes of other people. I’m annoyed that my confidence is still somewhat contingent on how others feel about my beauty. I feel like this internal battle I have with my hair will be eternal; one day I'm perfectly fine with my hair and the next I'm literally contemplating shaving it off again or getting a perm because I just can’t deal with it.
I have for a long time tried to reject the idea that long hair is the epitome of femininity but I just can't let it go for some reason. Whenever I have longer hair in, even braids, I just feel more beautiful and feminine and womanly. And that pains me to say. My fro isn’t the biggest, but it’s a reasonable medium size that’s flattering on me when I’ve stretched and fluffed it. But even when I’m wearing my fro in its largest state, I still don’t always feel so beautiful.
Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a solid, concrete and foolproof method of unlearning the hatred and discomfort Black girls tend to have with their hair besides simply forcing yourself to stop using things like wigs and sew-ins as a crutch for the insecurity we have for our hair. The very first step to tackling this is to give yourself no choice but to wear your hair out and slowly become comfortable with yourself, finally. Patience is the #1 thing we need as Black girls when it comes to loving ourselves in a world that believes everything about us down to the fine hairs on our toes is ugly. It’s hard, but I believe it’s possible.
“Erin Dyana is a freelance writer with a focus on pop culture, criticisms, and beauty. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Urban Social TV, Wear Your Voice Magazine, Clementine Zine, and Philadelphia Print Zine. In her free time she likes to create art, watch films, read books, and eat everything in sight."