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True Life: Watching YouTube Videos Made Me Dissatisfied with my Natural Hair

Avatar • Aug 25, 2013

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By Rosetta of Happy Black Woman

When I decided to go natural in 2010, it was after many years of thinking about it but being too chicken to actually DO it. After I did my first big chop, I felt free from all the emotional baggage that had kept me from embracing the natural beauty of my hair without a relaxer. I was so happy about finally letting my soul glow that I wanted to liberate everyone else around me from the “creamy crack,” too.

Little did I know that I was about to be stuck in another prison myself.

After my big chop, I soon fell in love with my TWA (teeny weeny afro). It was so…me. But as my hair grew, I started to fantasize about how long it could/would actually get. I began watching Youtube videos of natural hair mavens who talked about achieving their goal of reaching “bra strap length” with their growing locks. I watched as women demonstrated how silky and bouncy their curls could get with the addition of a little product like Miss Jessie’s or Kinky Curly. I started buying oils and puddings and serums in an attempt to replicate the impressive manes I saw on the internet. All the while, my hair was growing like crazy, much faster than I thought it would. It grew long enough to twist, then long enough to braid, then long enough to put into a cute updo. It got so long that even my natural hair-hating aunt began to talk about how pretty it was. I went from having a coarse TWA to a soft mane of twists, stretched out into a big mess of curls as often as possible.

I loved the attention I got from women who stopped me on the street to ask what my hair regimen was or how I went about twisting my hair. I loved being seen as attractive in spite of my natural hair, which many people had tried to convince me would make me ugly.

As my hair grew longer, however, the longer it took to maintain. The washing, conditioning, detangling and twisting began taking up more of my time. Time I would rather spend on my business or on dates or with family and friends. I started to wonder: is this what I really want? To spend an entire Saturday on my hair? I was beginning to resent the burden my hair had become. But when I thought about cutting it down some, I felt afraid of losing the compliments on my appearance. I wanted people to keep noticing me for how long and pretty my hair was.

After a while, I realized how insane my thinking had become. I had given up the creamy crack just to end up getting cracked out on Youtube videos. I was caught up in the rapture of having “good” natural hair. How quickly I had forgotten that ALL hair is good if you truly love the woman it’s attached to. It all depends on your perception of it. And my perception was once again coming from the wrong place: other people.

It took me back to my younger days when I would wear ridiculously long hair weaves and ponytails to look more glamorous than I felt with my shoulder-length relaxed mane. Having (fake) hair swinging all down my back would turn men’s heads and draw envious looks from women who wore their hair in less elaborate styles. But deep down, I knew that being addicted to the attention I got on my hair (and my looks in general) then and now, wasn’t healthy. Last year, I realized that I still needed to do some more inner work in this area of my life and take steps to resolve it within myself.

Here’s how I escaped the natural hair prison:

  • I stopped watching natural hair Youtube channels. (Again, nothing against the women who make natural hair videos. But once I started to go from learning how to twist my hair to coveting certain women’s hair on Youtube, I knew that activity had to go.)
  • I stopped reading natural hair blogs. (Same reason as above. Plus, I was allowing the constant reviews of new natural hair products to turn me into a junkie and drain my wallet.)
  • I developed a minimalist hair care regimen. At this point in my natural hair journey, I still only use a few products that don’t break the bank. And I don’t switch up, no matter what miracle root another sister tells me about. I stick to what works. If it ain’t broke…
  • I big chopped my hair again in December 2011. I did this when I was in Honolulu. I cut it off myself using some hair scissors I bought at the drugstore. Watching my curls fall into the trashcan brought me back to the real reason I went natural in the first place. Because I wanted to. Not because other people thought it looked good on me. I big chopped again to remind myself that no matter how long hair my hair is, I am still beautiful, powerful and free.
  • I stopped comparing my hair to other women’s. Now, whenever I see a woman with pretty natural hair, I just say, “I like your hair,” instead of “I WANT your hair” or “I WISH my hair was as long as yours.” Offering compliments this way helps me refrain from coveting other women’s hair and reminds me to appreciate the beauty of my own.
  • With the rapid growth of the natural hair community – both online and offline – it’s easy to get caught up in the prison of wanting your natural hair to look a certain way before you really consider it to be beautiful. I remember seeing so many comments from women on natural hair blogs or Youtube channels fawning over the bra strap-length ladies with adoration. “I WANT YOUR HAIR!” they would exclaim, wishing theirs could be that long, that curly, that bouncy.

    In most cases though, we’re not really lusting after someone else’s hair. What we, as black women, are really saying is that we want the perceived emotional or social benefits that come from having the hair (because we’re certainly not lusting after the downsides!). At some level in our consciousness, we hold the belief that longer, curlier hair looks better than the hair we have now, which may be shorter and coarser.

    Many women have commended me and other naturals for being “brave enough” to wear our real hair. But what I’ve learned is that going natural is just the first step.

    The real courage comes in learning to love the hair we have without wanting it to be something else.

    No matter how many of us are on the bandwagon now, the truth is that having natural hair does not define you…unless you let it. So if you see yourself in anything I’ve written here, the best question to ask yourself at this point is:

    Do you want your hair to define you?

    If so, carry on with the Youtube watching and bra strap-length envy. If not, I invite you to plot your escape from the natural hair prison. It’s much better being on the outside.

    Rosetta is the author of Happy Black Woman.

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    Pat
    Pat
    7 years ago

    No way do I want my hair to define me and I’m glad that you broke the bondage. I’m so thankful that I don’t desire long hair, never have. I agree with you about a minimal regime. My favorite products are by Talliah Waajid for styling. I can’t even imagine spending an entire day on my hair. Once again kudos to you!

    TWA4now
    TWA4now
    7 years ago

    Good article and so true.…love your own type of hair from 3A to 5Z! My hair and hair type is uniquely my own! More hair can equal more time with it good or “bad”: Be happy with your own hair long, medium, or short.

    Ebony Beauty
    Ebony Beauty
    7 years ago

    My hair routine is also very simple. My hair thrives the most when I moisturize it and leave it alone until wash day. I live in protective styles. I’ve watched those YouTube videos and admired the hair, but i was never drawn in to want to have hair exactly like those wonderful ladies. I say do what works for you.

    binks
    binks
    7 years ago
    Reply to  Ebony Beauty

    This! At the end of the day you really have to do what works for you, your hair and your lifestyle even if the youtuber have similar hair as yours. I admire a lot of ladies hair/videos but I don’t take majority of their suggestions or do half of their styles because I know my skill set and what works for MY hair. Honestly, I am kind of over the youtube craze/hair community craze (please don’t get this confuse with not wanting natural hair in the spotlight more because I do) but I am over the atmosphere or subculture youtube… Read more »

    Eboni
    Eboni
    7 years ago

    I love this article! It’s so relateable and realistic after wearing loose natural hair for 3 years or so. Hopefully every new natural reads & understands this, because it’s not always greener on the other side — but of course there are ways of managing & simplifying one’s hair routine. This statement, “As my hair grew longer, however, the longer it took to maintain. The washing, conditioning, detangling and twisting began taking up more of my time. Time I would rather spend on my business or on dates or with family and friends. I started to wonder: is this what… Read more »

    TWA4now
    TWA4now
    7 years ago

    If someone wants to submit an article to BGLH, who would they contact?

    Nappy4C Rocks
    Nappy4C Rocks
    7 years ago

    deep, this is article is DEEP

    pw
    pw
    7 years ago

    This article is very interesting and I’m glad the author took the time and effort to express herself. Kudos! But I can’t help but think…its just not that serious-its hair-Really?! I get tired of mine sometime too-who doesn’t? My wash and go came out crazy today and I’m sick of my hair right at this moment-but this to shall pass-hopefully by my next wash day! Lol. And no my hair doesn’t totally define me but it plays a small role-that I’m cool with. All women no matter what nationality want other womens hair-its just human nature. I just think sometime… Read more »

    Vonnie
    Vonnie
    7 years ago

    I can relate to stopping the hair madness. Not in the sense of coveting another’s hair, but doing what I wanted with my hair without being a part of the “how-long-can-my-hair-grow madness” once my wash days started taking up 2 hrs from start to finish, I cut my hair #aintnobodygottime4dat. I’m a recovering tomboy, so spending so much time on hair is just ridiculous to me. I may grow it back out in time, who knows. As for the coveting and PJ’ism, do whatever you need to do to get on track..

    jemjt
    jemjt
    7 years ago

    Hmmmm…this article makes sense though I enjoy watching yt videos I don’t get caught up in envy too much. Like previously stated we all admire what someone else has be it hair…body…skin etc…if I have a goal n inspiration it helps me work hard…I enjoy working out to keep fit…I enjoy looking after both my daughter’s and my hair…those things don’t define me…cause I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. So though I like to learn about hair n beauty n fitness…I focus on my soul..cause that’s what defines me.

    Vickie
    Vickie
    7 years ago

    I enjoyed the article and all Rosetta has to say. I subscribe to her blog and follow her via Facebook. The ONLY complaint I have concerning this article is… why not use a picture of Rosetta? For me, knowing how she looks, the message is somewhat diminished. In my head I am wondering why is she not pictured? If the article would’ve been on Solange or any other well known person, their picture would’ve accompanied the article. Rosetta is beautiful, unique and a proud Happy Black Woman. Just my opinion and observation.

    Shanna Small
    7 years ago

    I had the same experience. Good article

    Chasing Joy
    7 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading this. I do not have natural hair. I do like some of the natural hair styles that I see. I like the way my hair looks straightend. My main reason for not going natural is the time investment that semes to be involved. Also, from friends I hear about what seems to be a constant search for products to use to get the natural hair to perform the way they want. I just don’t want my hair to occupy that much of my time, attentio, or money. I think it is so easy for us, Relaxed… Read more »

    TINA SMITH
    TINA SMITH
    7 years ago

    MINE DEFINES ME IN A POSTIVE WAY NOT NEGATIVE. IT’S JUST WHAT YOU MAKE IT. I CAN’T RELATE TO THIS ARTICLE BUT BY THE COMMENTS I SEE ON SOCIAL MEDIA, I KNOW THIS TO BE A PROBLEM FOR MANY WOMEN. I WENT NATURAL TO BE, NOT TO BE OR LOOK LIKE SOMEONE ELSE. I’M TOO OLD FOR THAT LOL

    Jesse
    Jesse
    7 years ago

    Here we go again This article is… interesting. I’m confused as to why she blames Youtube for the problems that she had. YouTube is a tool for education or pure entertainment. The main problem seems to be with her perception of her own beauty. Her sense of beauty is dependent on her hair. Her confidence (and perhaps self-worth) is dependent on how beautiful she feels. So her confidence is dependent on how she perceives her natural hair. Why blame YouTube? If you watch a YouTube video and feel ashamed about your hair because of it, that is YOUR personality and self-image… Read more »

    TINA SMITH
    TINA SMITH
    7 years ago
    Reply to  Jesse

    SHE STATED OF YOU FEEL ENVY OR NEGATIVE FEELINGS ABOUT YOUR HAIR YT IS A PROBLEM. CAN YOU COMPREHEND OR DO YOU NEED CLEARER UNDERSTANDING.

    imani
    imani
    7 years ago
    Reply to  Jesse

    I reread the article looking for all this stuff u claim the aurthor said.it sounds like you twisted and bent some her statements to make it sound like she hates YT. Her point was watching YT for information,techniques& inspiration is great.that’s it purpose but when u start treating it like hair porn& start WISHING for others instead of just admiring& appreciating the YT hair WITHOUT devaluing your own hair then its great. When u troll YT mentally browbeating urslef for hair you will never have…its time to get off YT.she promoting a healthy realistic image of ur hair.it can be easy… Read more »

    Jesse
    Jesse
    7 years ago
    Reply to  imani

    @Imani, I feel like what you described as being obsessed with hair is just the learning process of trial and error. Someone may try a twist out that completely fails. Then, they may take the time to fix it. Perhaps the even look for help on YouTube. All of that is okay. It is just a part of the learning process. A person can just do wash and gos if they don’t want to spend time on their hair. However, if a person wants to take the time to learn how to style their hair, then they have every right… Read more »

    Carla
    7 years ago
    Reply to  Jesse

    Jesse I understand exactly what you’re saying because when I first read the article I too was inclined to feel the same way. I really enjoy watching youtube for educational purposes and am thankful for bloggers such as Naptural85 who does not have hair like mine That is okay however because I can still take away tricks and tips to care for my own hair. It’s fascinating to me that we are a generation of women who mostly do not know how to take care of our own hair type, so yes it is a learning process and every video/blog… Read more »

    The Mane Captain
    7 years ago

    I agree with you, Ive reduced my time spent on YT since I believe ive learned all that there is to learn in my 4years of being Natural. Also, I had to stop watching YT videos because I dont have an easy access to the products they use and my hair rarely turns out good anyway. I now watch for entertainment purposes when I do watch or to chime my thoughts here and there. Also, not watching length check videos have made me come into terms with my snail slow growth. We have to admit that a lot of those… Read more »

    TWA4now
    TWA4now
    7 years ago

    Heeeeey, Mane Captain! I salute you! I am loving your blog and that 31 day hair challenge! Your skin is sooooooo smooth! What DO you use! #workitgirlie!

    Andrea
    Andrea
    7 years ago

    I don’t think YT creates any insecurity or self esteem issue that wasn’t already there even if was below the surface. I’m natural and I like to watch a variety of hair videos even those of texturized and relaxed women although I would never put a chemical in my hair. I watch BKT videos. Not doing that either. It’s just entertainment to me. Just like someone mentioned alcohol. It is not the alcohol that determines who is a social drinker and who is an alcoholic.

    Kayla
    Kayla
    7 years ago

    Although I respect the author’s opinion, her problem was her personal insecurities…not YouTube. I watch Naptural85 and Jouelzy’s videos all the time and read all of the BGLH style icon interviews, but I don’t want anyone else’s hair. Focus on YOUR hair and not anyone elses and you will be fine.

    Huh
    Huh
    7 years ago
    Reply to  Kayla

    This isn’t aimed at girls like you who love their hair and are secure in their physical appearance. It’s about the ones who covet other people’s hair and measure themselves by girls they see on Youtube, Tumblr and Instagram. That may not be you or some of the other women on here but there are others co-signing the article and there’s evidence of these girls out there on YT drooling over and praising other people’s hair, wishing their hair was the same in the comments. Yes, they are insecure and need help with their self esteem, no it’s not the… Read more »

    D
    D
    7 years ago

    OMG… I’m so glad I clicked the link to read this. I JUST had this experience last week. When I first took my locs out, I was a YouTube/Facebook natural hair junkie. Then I started not appreciating my hair, but daydreaming and being fixated on how long it would be in a year, when it would be thick again (damage from yanking out shoulder-length/upper back locs). I literally had to tell myself to stop. It was driving me AND my husband crazy. Now, I love trying styles and looking at pics for hair inspiration, but I limit it to once… Read more »

    shelikes
    shelikes
    7 years ago

    i ordered a tshirt and put the words “i am my afro” on the front, a few days ago and i love it. if not for u tube videos i would still be acting like my hair is not the centerpiece. my hair is a symbol of my health, my culture, my history, my ethnicity, it is where i come from. it is my identity. i love the way the girls get on you tube and nurture each strand of their hair with pride. i dont watch them much anymore because i have a pretty good regimen now, but i… Read more »

    Pompadour Silk
    7 years ago

    I can relate to this article, and actually just wrote a similar post about this on my blog. I don’t think the answer is completely ignoring the videos and blogs though. You can still learn a lot without being envious of someone else’s hair. Read my opinion here: http://pompadoursilk.blogspot.com/2013/08/miracle-products-dont-exist.html

    ShantaFabulous
    ShantaFabulous
    7 years ago

    Kudos to you for figuring out a way to beat back those negative feelings about your hair.

    Msb616
    Msb616
    7 years ago

    Great piece, Rosetta. I follow your non-profit/personal development work as well. What is that Indie Arie said? I am not my hair. When i “went natural” in 04′ it wasn’t a thing like it is now. I just stopped perming my hair because i hated the smell of relaxer lol. There were little videos, products, blogs, and sites that talked about natural hair..this is partly due to the fact that social media was in toddler phase. All this say, technology has hurt and helped the “natural hair movement”. On the one hand, we have lots of information to help inspire and… Read more »

    Betty Collier
    7 years ago

    Hair is a feature of importance, it grows on our heads for a purpose’ serving as a filter from elements and particles from the air’ It is a covering, for our heads. It is a woman’s beauty’ The first thing we see of a person is their physical attributes’In talking to them we get to know who they are mentally and spiritually. Wearing your hair natural is a given’ or it should be because it is organically healthier and it is a good example for sons and daughters to respect and embrace their hair identity’ When we get tired of… Read more »

    locedup
    7 years ago

    I can relate. I have locs. I recently decided after 7 years to cut them. I too was a video junkie about locs. They became a bit much for me to care for, so I decided to go back to my short natural that I had worn for 12 years prior to growing locs. So I had my loctician cut them to my shoulder. I was afraid I might go into shock if I cut them all off. This weekend is the big chop from my locs. They will all be gone. But guess what? I have been watching TWA… Read more »

    Tabatha
    Tabatha
    7 years ago

    Good article. I never let my hair define me even when people try to. Right now I’m a product junky, but I’m going through all of them and starting to toss them. I just recently transitioned to natural and its been quite the learning experience, but now that I’m over the bumps and hang ups its much better, but its at that weird length where I can’t really do too much with it, but I am thinking about twisting it, but I think I want to get twist extensions first. I had so many other naturals squawking in my face… Read more »

    Titi1003
    7 years ago

    I appreciate your honesty and strength to stand behind your feeling to big chop again. I personally watch and enjoy YouTube videos because I enjoy seeing other black women embrace their natural hair. My daughter and I are the only two naturals in our family (Im loc’d). Natural hair isn’t really popular in Metro Detroit. Weave is still the norm, along with perms. I love my natural hair, also raised my daughter to love her natural hair too. I believe black women look at YouTube not to envy someone’s hair, but to see another natural black women’s hair journey! Lets… Read more »

    Lauren Antoinette
    Lauren Antoinette
    7 years ago

    OMG thank you for writing this! I have been feeling stuck between keeping my natural because I felt like I had something to prove to all the haters or cutting most of it and starting almost from t.w.a. because of damage. My hair journey is ever changing.

    Ginikachi Eloka
    7 years ago

    Good tale.

    Alexcia
    Alexcia
    7 years ago

    Wow this was an very inspirational blog. I would think of my self with long 3c hair just to sleep at night but now i just need to love my 4a hair. Thank you so much for typing this blog

    Death of Hallyu
    5 years ago

    Isn’t all of this just common sense…

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