My hair is a topic I don’t enjoy conversing about. Most of the time I try to avoid bringing it up, especially around others who don’t necessarily understand my experience because they haven’t walked in my shoes. When you were taught to hate your hair and constantly your texture was considerded not appealing or too nappy how do you bounce back from that. Women like me were often ridiculed because of their hair which is something they couldn’t change.
There is a generational cycle of hate that has been passed down. I haven’t made the point in my life where that cycle has ended. I grew up and looked at younger girls whose hair would swing back and forth at the park as they would run to their mamas and eat their popsicles. I would avoid the sprinklers at summer camp because I didn’t want my braids to get wet and have to wash them while the other girls can put them in a soft bun with their curly baby hairs.
My hair was different and my hair is 4C, it was never considered manageable instead Pelo Malo. My mom would always box braid my hair and I loved it because I didn’t have to deal with my natural texture. For me, it was never seen as a protective style this is all I knew.
Before knotless and lemonade braids became popularized I had my kinky twist, four corn rows, and my Senegalese twist. On Fridays after school, while others went home to play I spent hours taking out my braids and binge-watching Degrassi. The next morning I woke up early to sit in a salon chair for 8 hours. This has always been a part of my childhood routine. This generation has normalized the beauty of braids, knotless being a trend. But for me it has always been my life, so as easy for others to recognize now the beauty in braiding that is rooted in the motherland. I have always loved and appreciated the styling of box braids. For many people, this just started. Box braids are not your trend, it has always been a lifestyle, especially for the Black community.
While others thought, this girl never wears her natural hair, do we ever think maybe why is she this way. When you were taught that relaxed hair is what defines beauty. When you didn’t see your favorite celebrities wearing their natural hair texture. There was a select hand few I can remember who would embrace and give their hair TLC. Most of the time it was always lighter-skinned women with a soft curly or soft texture. It wasn’t browned-skinned girls like me with 4c coarse hair. I am not bitter nor am I angry I just truly want others to understand when you grow up not having a relationship with your hair, it is almost foreign to me.
It is almost like having an absent parent in your life, it just doesn’t exist.
As much as I want to wake up and feel like my hair is enough. The world I was birthed into said it wasn’t for generations and generations. We have made so much progress seeing Black women on the covers of magazines wearing their natural texture. But there is so much work to do to ensure that future young Black girls aren’t brainwashed into thinking their hair isn’t beautiful.
At 27, when I take out my braids I don’t feel beautiful and I don’t necessarily want to let my hair breathe because when I look in the mirror it doesn’t feel like it is a part of who defines Jenay.
I come raw and authentic because this is how I genuinely feel. My baby hairs don’t stay as much as I want them to, no product can hold down my 4C hair and quite frankly I am tired of trying. I want to learn to love my natural hair, I want to learn to know that my hair is enough in all phases it goes through. I want to shift the narrative on what it means to have beautiful hair. I hope you break the cycle of what is considered to be beautiful hair. I want to love my hair so much because there are so many people who wake up and wish they had a head full of hair.
This is my time to appreciate what God has blessed me with even though society never agreed. As an Afro-Latina in America, I want to empower all women like me to give themselves a chance to love their hair! Eliminate what others think, we define our beauty standards, and just like that our hair is more than enough, more than beautiful.
I deserve to feel magical and the inner child in me wants to hold her and tell her to run freely into the sprinklers and get her hair wet. There is nothing a little frizz and just for me won’t fix.
I love you Jenay, I love my hair and you should too.