By Ariel LeConte of Revolutionary in Pink Pumps
You know the girls you see in the Miss Jessie’s and Shea Moisture ads, the ones with big smiles as tons of bushy curls come falling down around their faces? Or how about the dark chocolate girl whose perfect white teeth beam up at you from the magazine ad as she rocks a thick kinky type 4 afro? Yea those girls… they are not me. My natural hair doesn’t make me smile or want to pose for pictures or even run my hands through it. On the daily I consider if I should just chop it all off and go bald. I’m one of those 4c hair texture girls; defined as tight kinky texture with a minimal curl pattern. What the real definition of 4c is: ” Oh you thought you were gonna get a comb through that? You wanted to use curl cream and Denman brushes you say?….NOPE!”
Almost 4 years ago I stopped perming my hair and let me tell you it has given me hell every step of the way. I left it in twisted extensions for the first year, then cut off the permed ends and started to wear it out. I was so excited. I combed the natural hair blogs and watched hundreds of YouTube tutorials to help me decide what creams I would use for all these amazing styles I would be doing. It was like an awesome dream. For a while things were okay, my hair was still in that “in-between” phase so it held onto twist outs pretty well but I was still itching for some length! I figured if I gave my hair time to grow it would work out better for me. So I put in an invisible (tiny braided extensions) and left it alone to grow.
Whenever I would take out my invisible I was excited to see what kind of hair growth I had acquired. I attempted wash and go’s and was horrified by the results. My hair in actuality was about 2 inches short of being shoulder length and when I washed it the shrinkage was horrible. I would attack my head with Curlformers, Denman brushes, afro picks, Shea Moisture, Miss Jessies, Carol’s Daughter, I mean if you name it I promise you I tried it; many of these products at the recommendation of natural hairdressers I visited and consulted. No matter what I did my hair would shrink up into a dry not-so-fluffy little afro. It made me miserable. I would literally sit in the mirror, stare at my hair, and cry. I had heard that it was a little rougher for type 4 textures, but I felt helpless, I just wanted to hide all my hair.
A Little Heat Lightning
I decided that maybe if I stretched my hair a little bit it would cooperate with me and boy was I right. I got my hair professionally blown out and then went home and did a twist out on it. It was the most beautiful result I had ever seen and for the short time that I wore it I was absolutely ecstatic about my hair. I snapped photos everyday and made excuses to go out just so I could walk around with it.
But as soon as I wet my hair again it reverted to its awful, annoying state. I was depressed again and back under an invisible it went.
My Sad Revelation
This summer I wore some Senegalese twists and when I took them out I went to get my hair blown out once more. I did a beautiful twist out and the very next day the heat and humidity destroyed it. By 5 pm my hair had no shape. It was just a tangled mess on on my head. I was back to square one, because clearly the summer wasn’t going to allow me my heat straightened freedom.
I’ve pretty much given up on my hair for the moment. Even though I have friends with type 4 hair texture none of them seem to have hair that’s anywhere similar to mine and I feel deeply alone in this struggle. I wash my hair and attempt to pick it out with my black power fist afro pick and it just sits there. I still look in the mirror and want to cry but when I walk out the door I hold my head up high and act as if my hair looks amazing. I don’t even have recent pictures of my hair to post because I have essentially refused to be photographed. I have hair envy of other naturals, especially the ones with big fluffy fros, but aside from all of that I have alot of self-hair hate. Since my natural hair causes me so much trouble the smartest thing to do would just be to give up on being natural but something in me refuses to allow it. I don’t want to go back to being a slave to my perm just like I don’t want to be a slave to my blow dryer.
Honestly right now I’m just biding my time, covering my hair in pretty scarves, until I can put in my next invisible. But I write this post for all of my other natural hair girls who feel just as miserable and hopeless as I do. I refuse to give up, no matter how much trouble nd stress my hair gives me. I cannot change my hair texture, it’s mine and that was the point of being natural, to embrace who I was. It’s not about the fad, it’s about being free from a bond to a conformist habit. Even though I want to stop trying, I know I won’t. I think I’m secretly hoping that one day when it comes out of an invisible it will spring into a huge fluffy fro and my problems will be solved. I know it won’t happen, but a girl can dream and the point is that you should too. I hate my natural hair and I’m ok with that, I just have to keep trying.
Ariel is a 20-year-old college student, plus sized beauty activist, blogger and mass media junkie who’s in love with black culture and fashion. Her blog is Revolutionary in Pink Pumps.