My Hair Story: Soulsearching to find a Confident Self

***Update: In case you stumble across this, I summarized my hair story into a video in August 2010 and posted it on my blog here.  It's just as detailed but has more pics and an editorial by moi***

So, I think it's going to take me a little while to get into this "post more than once/wk" thing, but that's ok. I feel like typing today, so I thought I would share with you all my hair story...

That's me at two years old, with two big afro puffs *LOVES IT!*

My mom was anti-relaxer forever. When HS started, I felt the "relaxer" pressure. I got my hair straightened at the hair dressers every 2 weeks. I played basketball AND all my friends had long, wavy/straight hair. I caved in. My actual hair was pretty healthy in the relaxed style - minimal breakage. However, I did have an extremely sensitive scalp and would burn EVERY time I got a relaxer. I stopped getting relaxers regularly in 11th grade and wore braids. Going into my senior year of high school in 2003, I was bold and brave and did a Big Chop :0. I got a lil' texturizer with it to "soften" the look. I hated it. I never got a touch up for the texturizer and got another big chop before I went to college and dyed my hair cherry red Summer 2004.

This pic is from Freshman orientation, you can't really see the color but...whatevs.

In college, I still was not confident with my own self image, and I felt that I was "THE ONLY" natural sista at the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!). Essentially, I did NOT feel that I looked good and thought I would feel better with straight hair, thus I got a relaxer AGAIN *note this was about 3 months after getting permanent color*

My hair was feeling pretty awful with the color/relaxer mixture, and so I stopped getting relaxers and went to my good and faithful fall-back hairstyle - the rod set *Note - I did the rod sets myself* I did try a 2-strand twist here and there, but with partially damaged straight ends and kinky roots - it didn't look so hot.

By Summer 2005, my ends were in horrible damage. When I went home for the summer, my mom gave me some suggestions for hair styles...I chose to go with a cute short-relaxed cut b/c it was sharp and fairly easy to manage.

I LOVED this style on me, I felt I was so cute and sharp! I was going to my hairdresser at the time RELIGIOUSLY and she kept me looking RIGHT! I rocked that style for the entire school year, letting my hair grow out. By the end of the summer, my hair was long enough to do 2 french braids, but I had the mixed-hair textures thing again. When I'm natural, I like to be ALL NATURAL, so at the end of the Summer of 2006 I did ANOTHER big chop. Unforch, I REALLY hated my hair after the chop.

This is me RIGHT after my big chop with coils - the only way I still felt attractive with this short cut. I held out and let my hair grow - it was EXTREMELY slow as I didn't know much about caring for healthy natural hair. By Summer 2007, my hair was a decent length - long enough to cornrow and have about 1" of hang time. I LOVED my natural hair with my personal style...For my bday fun, I straightened my hair that summer to check how long it was.

Both pics are from Summer 2007 - first pic is me with some coils, second is me straightened. Unfortunately, the sista who straightened my hair burnt it. Thus I suffered from heat damage. I sobbed - LITERALLY - for 1 hour when I realized this as I washed my hair and found that my kinks wouldn't return. My hair was stringy-straight in random patches - it was awful. So, I did the thing I do best - BIG CHOP. *Yes, another one, this makes 3* I didn't want to suffer the pain of having super short hair again so I cut it to leave about 1.5" on the top with about 1/4" in the back. I hated it - it was awful b/c my hair was 20 different textures from the heat damage.

I promised myself in 2007-2008 I would grow my hair and just let it be. I did just that - covered the "bad" hair in twists, let it grow out, then cut it some more and started fresh. Again, by the Spring of 2008, my hair was about the same length it was the prior year.

However, I was coming upon graduation and interviewing for jobs. I wanted to straighten my hair to have a more "refined" look at the interview. Good News: I did look sharp and I interviewed for the job I currently hold with the hairstyle :). Bad News: I don't know how to pick good hair dressers and suffered from heat damage AGAIN!

After this, I made a vow to NEVER chemically/physically straighten my hair EVER AGAIN b/c it just wasn't working for me. In the Summer of 2008, I did another BC but LOVED it this time. I was finally confident and satisfied w/ being natural - I thought it was beautiful.

This pic is me in July 2008, shortly after my 4th BC.
This entire time I only knew 2 things:
1. I wanted to be natural
2. I wanted to have long hair

In August 2008, I started locking my hair because this was the ONLY way I thought I could have long hair and be natural. Then my cousin introduced me to the BGLH blog, and I was hooked - I thought, I can have LONG NATURAL HAIR w/o dreads *EUREKA*. I decided to comb out my locks the next day and thus my past meets my present...

Pics are from January 2009 and May 2009 with locs.

In summary I recognize that being natural for me meant that I needed to be confident about who I was - especially for my outward appearance. I needed to not care what other people thought. Sure, some ppl may not like it, but others will LOVE IT! It took me a while to get to this level of acceptance. I feel that I am there now. I have worn my natural kinks to a variety of social and professional events, and I look just as sharp as everyone else. I also met my current bf rocking my short cut. IMO, mainly b/c I finally thought I was HOT and it showed in a great way!

That's my story, it's quite long, but when I think about took me from Summer 2003-Summer 2008 to get things right :)

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