What Being Natural Taught Me

I’d like to say that when I went natural I was doing it for social injustice and women empowerment, but to be honest, I just got tired. I was tired of having to put so much effort into my hair. I was entering college, and I knew I wouldn’t have the time or energy to keep up with the fuss of it all. I wanted something I could maintain.

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I was not genuinely happy when I saw my permed hair. I hated the way the relaxers made me break out, and any given style never felt like it truly suit me. I tried to manage my hair outside the salon, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. If I put a lot of heat on my hair, I would damage it, but I didn’t feel I could maintain it any other way.

Heat damage was getting the best of me, and I was growing more and more fond of staying at home then spending time in the hair dresser. Any inkling of scratching my head would be replaced by a glimpse of the wretched burn marks on my scalp from a previous visit.

So I cut it off.

I did the dreaded buzz cut and never looked back.

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But as I got rid of my permed hair, I didn’t realize the revolution I was being apart of. In 2012, there weren’t many black women around me wearing their hair naturally. I only knew of a few people who were thinking about going natural and a few YouTubers who I could learn from when it came to styling and upkeep.

As time went on, a community began to form. More and more people were deciding to free their natural, truly authentic hair to create a black community of women who embraced one another.

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But with the good came the not so good. After the change came the spectators. Societal norms that say a white woman is able to wear her hair as she pleases, but a black woman must adhere to conformity, ran amok.

There was this lingering tone that my natural hair wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, professional enough — you name it.

And with this realization came the responsibility to make those who were unsure of this change aware, or as many like to say: woke. It became important for me to be a voice for those who didn’t have the courage to embrace their hair the way it grows out of their head — for fear that they would be judged, ridiculed and mocked.

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No matter the response, whether good or bad, I was more confident with my decision and became an advocate for natural hair.

Just like we come in different shapes, sizes and colors, our hair comes in different textures, lengths, thickness, etc. Not one kind makes us more or less beautiful.

We are all uniquely made. You are beautiful enough. You are pretty enough.

I strive to be a woman after God’s own heart, and my hair has nothing to do with it.

-Jas

All photos taken by Christian Sayles.
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