Many of you know my story but for those of you who don’t, I used to have little to zero self-esteem. There were years where I was bullied and unbelievably depressed. I hated myself, my height and every part of me. I couldn’t see past what my high school world was telling me and believed every lie they told.
As years went on, I found my confidence and fully embraced that God created every single part of me (including my height) for a purpose. That nothing about me was a mistake and ALL of it was wrapped into a one-of-a-kind Alicia that was the only one who could accomplish the purpose that God had chosen for me…
or so I thought…
until it came to one part of me that nobody had seen in years…
Yes. The long tresses that you have seen in every photo of me were not mine. I have been wearing a weave for a little under 9 years now. Almost a decade of taking it out and putting it back in because I was afraid to show my real hair.
Afraid! Alicia…how can you tell me to be me and embrace every part of myself when you can’t show the hair that God gave you?
The answer is…I can’t. And that is one of the reasons why I had to take it out. But before we get in to those reasons, let me give you a little back story…
My mother is Caucasian and my father is African American. That usually equates to what society likes to classify as good hair. You know, the perfect curls flowing down your back just throw water on it and leave the house kind of hair. The expectation of my light skin and light eyes matching the texture of my locks was immense. However, my actual texture is very tight and not extremely easy to style and care for. Thus, pressure set in. Not only for my Mom to style it correctly, but also for me to do everything I could to make it appear to be good. This resulted in many unhealthy hairstyles, fights between my Mom, the comb and my hair and ultimately a series of relaxers that killed my follicles. From the age of 4-18, I was in a losing battle with my bad hair.
Enter college. I moved from Beaverton, Oregon to Stockton, California where the culture definitely changed. I went from being the darkest kid at my school to being one of the many beautiful skin tones that walked my campus. It was there that I first saw someone wear their hair naturally. It was a concept that never even entered my mind. It was also something I was not ready to do but it was an option I was now aware of.
Enter corporate world. After college, I began my first corporate job. While natural hair was not prohibited, it was clearly not embraced. I found myself wanting the sleek tresses that everyone else had and got my first weave. The positive response was overwhelming not only externally but also internally. I had FINALLY found hair that would act right and I could make look how I always envisioned that my hair should be. It also allowed me to grow out my perm and safely go natural underneath the tracks (which I will touch on later). To me it was a win-win and up until 2 weeks ago was constantly my hair.
But what I didn’t realize was that during those 9 years I had completely denied an entire part of me that made me, ME. I had a false construct of who I was. The sewed in hair had somehow really become a part of me and boy did it show the moment I took it out without putting it back in…
I cried, sobbed and immediately got depressed. I couldn’t post a picture on social media, refused to go out, felt ugly and the same feelings of low self-esteem that I had in high school started rearing their ugly heads. It was a very surprising and violently visceral reaction to something that wasn’t even mine to begin with.
2 weeks later, I am still embracing it. Worry filled questions enter my mind; Will men like me? Will they still think I am pretty? Will you think I am pretty? Is it going to be hard? Can I maintain natural hair? Do I have the time to maintain it? Will my curl pattern ever come back? What will my curl pattern look like? Will it ever grow? How long will it take to grow? I mean…I could go on for days.
But at the end of the day…it’s just hair people! Why do we put so much weight into it and furthermore why do we think it makes us who we are?
In addition to tall fashion and life, I will be exploring these feelings on this blog because apparently hair does matter. It matters to me, it matters to society and it matters to you. This natural hair journey is going to teach me far more than just about hair and I feel like it’s a journey that I need to share.
Now, why did I decide to do it? Here are the main reasons…
1. My 10 year old Niece had never really seen her Auntie. She had seen me with someone else’s hair on my head for her entire life. How can I teach her to love every part of herself when she had not seen me love ALL of me?
2. YOU. I truly believe that you were made for a specific purpose and that God made absolutely no mistake while he molded every single part of you. Who am I to tell you the truth when I myself am not living it?
3. Safely Growing out my natural hair under the weave was going nowhere…fast. While I grew out my perm completely, after 10 years my hair should be down to my butt and it wasn’t. My hair was shredding into a bundle of split ends and my edges are thin and completely damaged by heat. It is natural but far from healthy.
4. I was in captivity. My weave options where either down or in a ponytail. When the wind hit, I was constantly covering up tracks. I couldn’t itch my scalp. I had to constantly worry about blending the hair that was out with the weave. There was little versatility in the way I could style my hair and so on and so forth. It was time.
5. I want to abolish the construct of good and bad hair that I have adopted from society. Who started that and why did I believe it? I want to make sure I don’t pass that down to my Niece and Lord willing, my future children.
6. Listen Hunni…you know I am waiting for my husband to find me and when he does I want his hands all up in this hair.
With all of that said, I am not speaking for everyone that wears a weave. Do you boo! I am in no way knocking weaves or any other way of styling hair. I plan to explore all kinds of styling from clips, braids, faux locs, wigs and even weave it up on occasion. BUT for me personally, the time of denying my natural hair is over. I am tired of the fight and let her win. She is me and I am her and I am not afraid to show it. I am the master of this journey, am wonderfully made in every way and am now presenting all of me to you, practicing what I preach and loving every part of me from my hair follicles to my toenails.
Let the journey begin! Thanks for crawling, walking, running and sprinting it with me.