Second, I grew up seeing no one in my family with long hair. No one. And if I saw a black woman with long hair, I was told it was weave. I grew up believing that if you were black with long hair, you were mixed or it was fake. No in between, no compromise.
I also grew up taking care of the hair that I wanted, not the hair that I had. I wanted long, silky hair with soft waves. Like the pretty girls in the magazines that looked nothing like me. I would wash my hair every week, condition, then blow dry it using a round boar bristle brush to make sure the hair laid flat. And finally, run a hot flat iron down my hair. My hair was a little passed my shoulder with lots of split ends and damage.
So, when I finally started seeing black women with long hair, with full hair, with hair that I thought was absolutely beautiful, with everything that I grew up believing, it was a miracle I thought that was something I could accomplish.
Undoing the mental and physical damages of growing up and believing that you are inferior is very hard. When I went natural, I was scared that I wouldn't be able to grow my hair. I wasn't sure if this would be the worst mistake of my life. I had to relearn everything that I thought I knew about black hair care. I had to stop taking care of hair that would never be mine. And I had to look in the mirror and see myself as I am, not as I wanted to be.
Eight years later, I can look in the mirror and pick out every flaw and find nothing but beauty in it. My hair isn't just cosmetic, it's not just good genes, it is the outcome of winning a war that can consume you with self-hatred and bitterness. So, the next time you want to chalk up my hair to genes, remember that you're seeing what it means to love yourself, absolutely and completely.
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