Beyond every curl, braid, loc, and strand is a sacred story for women of color.
Even though it’s just hair, there is so much more than meets the eye. Ever since I was little, it was my dream to have long hair. I would place towels on my head with clips and shake my head around to feel like I had flowy hair. Growing up, I only had one friend that was biracial. Her hair texture was different than mine but nonetheless, she was the only person that could relate to my hair struggles. I was always the different one in my circle of friends and once middle school hit, I really yearned for the straight hair my friends had.
When I was 16, I went against my parents' will and made the worst decision I could have possibly made: I relaxed my hair. For those reading who do not know what that is, it’s like a perm for African hair that makes curls turn wavy. If that was not bad enough, I would then take a straightener to make my waves straight, which then became a contributing factor to my hair damage.
Once I began, it was a toxic process. Just like when you dye your hair and the roots grow out and you have to get it touched up, the same thing happened to me. I was so happy that I finally had straight hair that I didn’t even realize how much I was damaging my hair. Once I finished high school, my hair started to thin out and didn’t look good down so I continuously wore it up.
I wore my hair up for most of college and in my last three years I longed for something more. I got extensions and here is where my world changed because I really hit my dream place of the hair I had always longed to have. I felt that I was finally one with all my friends and I no longer was different.
During these years I carried this guilty feeling of hiding who I truly was just to fit into what I thought was the “social norm”.
I started to think that extensions were the only thing that made me pretty and that if people saw my natural hair they would think it was ugly.
My journey to change this ridiculous thought process did not begin until I moved to Barcelona. I knew I did not want to have to maintain my extensions and I also did not want to constantly be wearing my hair up. The other thing that came to mind is that I would be in a new place. I would not be in the comfort of friends and family that have known me through these stages. So one of my goals, when I made my move, was to find a hairstylist. Once I found one I could trust, my natural hair journey began.
Words cannot express the freedom and empowerment I felt when I left the doors of the hair salon. Years and years of constantly being in my head about my hair and constantly wanting what my friends had. I could never be one hundred percent happy with the way I looked and I was hiding this other side of me because I was embarrassed that my hair was different. Do you know how exhausting this was? Now the tables have turned and people are complimenting me on my hair and telling me they wished they had my hair...what!?
My next step in my natural hair journey was posting on social media so all my friends and family back home could see my hair. No one back home knew about this change and I am sure some of my friends never even knew what my natural hair looked like. This may sound silly but I got emotional at the amount of love and support I received on social media.
It wasn’t just about the hair it was realizing that my perception of beauty was so narrow-minded and had been my whole life.
This was something I was so self-conscious about and I could not believe my friends and family loved it. From that day on, I have really been embracing my natural hair. I no longer feel like I am hiding behind anything.
I love my hair because it is true to who I am and a reflection of my personality. It’s dense, soft, textured, difficult, free and fun. This is one hundred percent me. No preservatives, no additives, and no bullshit.
I hope to be an inspiration to women who are struggling to transition to their natural hair. Five things I have learned throughout this journey:
1) Love yourself above anything else
2) Do not let other people's opinions of your appearance consume your life
3) Do not compare your hair to anyone else
4) Rock the hairstyle and do not let the hairstyle rock you
5) Embrace being different
This was a change I had been told to do by my family for years and I have finally gained enough self-confidence to make it happen. I now love the fact that I am different and that my hair is versatile. The only regret I have with going natural is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Written by: Agustina Longino
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