I feel like a brand new person
I want to preface that this is the condensed version of a very long journey with my hair. I put my hair through hell and back. I went through a long journey to create this version of myself that I thought was the most beautiful. With that being said, Take from my story and learn that you are not your hair. Hair can be beautiful, but it’s not what makes you beautiful. Your personality makes you beautiful. Being kind makes you beautiful. The way you love your loved ones makes you beautiful. Your beauty is deeper than hair. With that being said, here is my hair story.
I Have Always Been Obsessed With My Hair
I have always been obsessed with growing hair long past my shoulders. Long hair equated to beauty. I learned to think this way after observing how boys acted around certain girls in school.
Even in tv shows, movies, music videos. The pecan brown girl with the long curly hair. Or the chocolate skin bae with the long relaxed hair. The white girls with the long manipulated Disney princess curls slapping you in the face because you thought sitting behind her was a good idea.
You would want it to if you saw other black girls with their long lustrous relaxed hair. Slicked down with cherry-scented edge control and the sulfuric fumes of hair grease. I didn’t know anything about natural hair. I envied them. I think the boys in school were more invested in a girl’s hair than girls were.
To a guy, if your hair did go past your ears, you were ‘bald’.My hair would grow past my ears and break off terribly at the ends. And what’s crazy is that I never realized how bad my hair got. I look at my pictures now of fifteen years old and my hair is so broken it’s in the shape of a fork.
My Convoluted Hair Story
My mother did my hair until I got into middle school. She learned how to cornrow on my hair. I can only imagine how that went. She said I was so tender-headed I never let anyone touch my hair. I’m sure that’s why I don’t have a single flattering picture in our yearbooks.
My mother said I even climbed on top of my godmother’s head, screaming like a banshee because I didn’t want her to comb my hair. She’s quick to remind me of that day. But I don’t blame baby Bambzi. Any and everyone that touched my head felt like they had hands like a pot maker when it was time to do my hair.
My mama also reminded me, that it was a time my hair was the longest it had ever been. It was also tragically snatched away from me after I got sick and my hair fell out trying to take my medicine with orange juice. I don’t remember any of it. But since that day, my mother put relaxers in my hair until I graduated high school. And I would grease my scalp every day. I mean every day, I never missed a day of slapping Blue Magic on my head or whatever grease my mother had in the bathroom.
I made it routine and developed this delusion that if I greased my scalp every day, my hair is going to grow.
I’ll admit it had its spurts and then the growth would deadpan, and eventually break off worse than it grew. Why? Because every time I had free time, I had my hands in my hair. Always combing, always trying to wrap it around my head or try a new style. I contemplated the world of natural hair after watching Youtube videos of girls chopping off their locks to join the movement. On July 4, 2013, I cut the stringy dry ends of my hair and was introduced to a new world of beauty.
A Cornucopia of Hair Types
My hair strands are a combination of coarse, fine, coils, waves. According to the natural hair type chart, my hair is a combination of 4a in the front, 4b in the back, and 4c in the crown. A cornucopia of hair types. It wasn’t easy initially, being introduced to a new texture, the kinks, and coils, and the ‘nappiness’ of it all. I had to comb my hair more. I needed to split my hair into sections.
Everything had to be done in the shower! What used to take me ten minutes was taking me the whole day! But it was fascinating.
I couldn’t wait for my hair to flourish and grow from my shrub of curls to a mane of curly locks.
From watching these natural hair videos, I had the assumption that relaxers were the only thing hurting me. I wasn’t wrong, my hair did break off because I overlapped harsh chemicals in my hair. But it wasn’t the whole truth. Many factors contributed to the deter of my hair growth. I didn’t learn this until now.
The First Spot
I used to wear my hair in box braids, a lot. I mean if you were to ask someone if they saw me in college, all you had to say was the girl with the waist-length box braids. I had a toxic relationship with this style. You see, box braids are what the natural hair community consider a protective style. But after so many installs, it’s no longer protected. The way I did my box braids did more harm than good.
My hair flourished for a while in braids, my peak hair was a little past my shoulders, and thicker than it had ever been. (I had also been taking vitamins and drinking a gallon of water a day so that may have contributed to the health of my hair.) I got excited about this growth and what did I do with this growth? I abused it. I braided and dyed and braided and dyed my hair. The damage was always concealed. Until one day, in the summer I graduated from college, I felt the first bald spot on my head.
The First Time I Shaved My Head
My hair only continued to get worse. The crown of my head would burn, and itch uncontrollably. The spot grew until it consumed most of my hair. I remember the day I ran to my sister with audible sobbing not able to form words. I was going bald. But it wasn’t a spot that was clean of follicles. They were still there.
So I did my research and found out that it was possible that I was suffering from a hair fungus. Possible from a pack of braiding hair that I used on my hair that was older than the hair I had bought a day prior to styling my hair. I went to a dermatologist, who prescribed me a fungus lotion and shampoo that I had to use every week.
I used the medications until my head no longer had the irritation. But the damage was done. My self esteem. My hair. Damaged by this fungus that plagued my scalp. I tried to be patient with the growth that slowly came in, the black stubble broke my heart each time I rubbed my fingers across it. I hid behind wigs for months before I made the decision on my twenty third birthday to cut my hair.
But I wasn’t satisfied because it was still a big difference. I felt there was no other choice for balance than to shave it all off. I made one of the scariest hair moves in the world.
My brother shaved my head first time around. It was the first time I had seen my head. It felt, great and strange. I liked it, my family loved it. I remember the kiss my dad planted on my head when I walk out the bathroom. I loved the way my scalp felt. My head shape wasn’t ridiculous as I feared. I was literally the female version of my father.
And still, I was afraid of being seen.
I was afraid of the shock, I guess. I didn’t want someone to ask me if I were sick, from cancer or a mental break down. A Britney Spears moment, as my friend coined it. And I claimed it because later on I kept thinking to myself, What the hell was I thinking.
I didn’t realize how beautiful I was then. So I bought more wigs.
My Beauty Is Soul Deep
A few months pass and I let my hair do it’s thing but this time, I try my hand at locs. They were doing well, in the beginning. They were awkward growing out, so you would most likely see me like this, in a wig.
It was only a matter of time when I noticed my hair thinning. It would grow back, then thin out and repeat for a while. I was back to the drawing board to research what could be going on. It turns out, you can get alopecia after having a fungus. Just my luck. But, my spot wasn’t clean all around. I had enough stubble in places for another shave.
Two weeks ago today, I took the plunge again to the buzzcut life. This time I saw myself with fresh eyes. And I cried. Not because I was sad, but because of how beautiful I felt when the hair was gone. It felt like my hair was a heavily locked gate that kept my soul trapped inside my insecurities. And now that my hair is gone, you can see me. You can see my soul. You can see my beauty. 2020 has been a hard year to deal with. But it made me discover things about myself had I not been pressured to deal with my appearance. My beauty is soul deep. I didn’t need hair. I treat hair as an accessory now.
Though I can wear my wigs off and on. I know I don’t need them, and I do not regret shaving my head this time. I get compliments often about my hair and how I look better without the blankets and large bundles of hair.
My brother tells me all the time now how this hair was me all along. Nothing else fits my personality more.
I can tell my kids how bad ass I was that I shaved my head. If you have shaving your head on your bucket list, just do it. My only advice to you is to try it out in the warmer months. My head is freezing is out here. Other than that, losing my hair is the best thing that ever happened to me.