Approximately six years ago, I relaxed my hair for the last time. It was the day before my graduation and wearing my hair natural had been on my mind for several months, as I could no longer justify putting a dangerous chemical directly on my head to straighten my hair for aesthetic purposes while actively seeking to eat organic foods; it was a silly contradiction and I immediately understood it as such.
Almost a year later, I cut off the relaxed ends and wound up wearing a teeny weeny afro that I initially hated. Nothing was wrong with it per se, I just thought my curls would be looser, bigger, more flowing. I wanted my hair to be longer than it was. There were times I’d look in the mirror and cry: what had I done? Why did I do this? Yet, there was such a strong knowing that I was at the point of no return; my last relaxer was the last relaxer. “I’m undergoing a paradigm shift,” I’d tell myself when I needed comforting.
When you begin to wear your hair the way it grows out of your head after years of manipulating it to specifically do otherwise, you’re suddenly confronted with your ideas about beauty in general, your individual beauty, and your people’s beauty.
Many women consider it to be a quasi spiritual experience, and, honestly, that’s no exaggeration. It’s a reawakening. To yourself. To your beauty. To your ancestry. To healthy self-esteem.