Getting Kinky: The Journey Back to My Roots

Going back to my natural hair was an even harder struggle than ceasing to wear pants was. We live in a Europeanized society that repeatedly slaps "black" women about the face with concepts such as:

  • Straight hair is the standard.
  • Dark skin is ugly; light skin is beautiful.
  • Kinky hair = crazy, violent, or homeless person.
  • An afro isn't an appropriate work hairstyle.
  • Naps increase the desire to conduct criminal activity.

If You Ain't Got Straight Hair, You Better Buy It!

This society basically says to us, "If you don't have straight hair, you need to buy it. We don't care how you get it, just get it, and don't show your ugly face until you do!" Unfortunately, years of being used, abused, accused, discarded, and pushed aside by the male species gender left many of us feeling like we needed to try to "fit in" ASAP and catch up to the European culture. Some of us tried to be like them in terms of our hair and even some of our activities and behaviors. 

Some of us had the above-mentioned negative concepts taught to us by parents who had them beat into taught to them. I had parents who wore 'fros at one point in time. I remember seeing an old picture of them smiling and cheesing in their 'fros just as happy as they could be. They had beautiful 'fros, and I thought they were cool! I probably didn't express it at the time, but I liked the 'fros and had this internal sense of pride about them. Somewhere along the line, however, my mom's 'fro disappeared. I do not know why it disappeared because I can't speak for her. I just know that it did. 

How We Cope

Black women's self-esteem has deteriorated immensely over the years. They have replaced their natural locks with hair weaves and extensions, straightener chemicals, and wigs for the ones who don't feel like going through any lengthy processes to cover up their kink. Black women, as a whole, spend billions of dollars a month either buying hair that isn't theirs or burning their hair with smelly chemicals and then believing that it looks good because "they" told them it was better than what The Most High God gave them. 

How I Coped

I had a rough time with my natural hair and my natural look as a young girl. My teenage years were very awkward in terms of budding into a young woman. Other children made fun of me and called me names like darkie and blackie. Yes, for real. The kids in school made fun of my ultra-thick hair and once made me feel so bad that I cut it off. I was a horrible, horrible people pleaser at the time.

My attempt at changing myself for them didn't do me any good, however. I came to school with my newly snipped mane, and they told me they were talking about the back, and I still needed to cut that. They then proceeded to sing the "Thundercats" theme song in unison. You see, they had dubbed me "Lion-o" because of my thick and hard-to-manage hair. 

Note: Don't ever change anything about yourself for anyone else. You'll lose your dignity, and they'll always want you to change something else. 

I basically hated my hair and learned to cope with it by using the stinky chemicals on it that made it look thin, flat, and stringy. I ran to the shop about every six weeks or whenever my natural hair started to grow back. I did this for many years and was ashamed of the real me. 

I had periods where I longed for the natural look and tried to let it grow back, but it was so thick and so dry. That dry coarseness would often make my scalp itch, and I didn't know what to do with it. Back to the relaxer. I always used a no-lye relaxer. I was never one for weaves and extensions. I always thought that weaves were just silly, but I guess they weren't any sillier than burning your hair straight with stank chemicals. I did go through a fun wig phase for about a month in 2012/13, but it was very short lived. 

The Decision to "Come Back Home"

A lot of things started changing for me around five years ago. One day, I looked around and realized that I had been perpetrating a fraud. I realized that I had been trying to be someone who I was not, and I also had never really learned how to be who I was. I didn't act on those feelings right away, but they got stronger and stronger as each day passed.

The desire to wear my hair naturally came in the "return to the God of Israel" package. I think God shipped me that package. I can't say that I had much control over it. It just happened, and then I decided to stick with it even if the world gave me hell about it. 

The Uphill Battle to Return to My Roots

The hardest part of going back to my roots was dealing with the dryness. Even after I learned to appreciate the texture, I still lost hair because it was dry as a desert plant. It seemed like my hair just drank up everything I tried to put in it to moisturize it, and then it would be dry again in an hour. It was very frustrating, and I had trouble growing it for a long time because it broke off. I finally found the Sta-Sof-Fro products, which have been around for generations. They are like miracle products that leave the hair moist, soft, and smelling quite nice. Perhaps my 'fro will grow now. 

Life Today: I Like It Kinky

As far as walking around in society, I could care less if people like my hair or not. This is who I am. This is my hair, gray strands, kinks, and all. I am not European. I do not want to conform or try to look like other nations of people. If a man doesn't desire me (in the future), or he thinks I'm ugly because of my natural hair or features,  then excuse my French, but I think he's a jerk. I'm not interested in being with a superficial man or a man who doesn't love me for who I am. 

If an employer doesn't think that my afro is appropriate in the workplace, then he/she doesn't think I'm appropriate in the workplace. I mean telling someone that she has to straighten her hair to work somewhere is like telling someone in a job interview that he has to get rhinoplasty before he can work there because his nose is too long. It's the same exact thing, but our people are just so compliant and quick to oblige other people's whimsical and quite unreasonable requests. Enough is enough.

I wouldn't want work for an employer who didn't think that what God gave me was appropriate. As far as the random ridicule and put-downs of the general populous... meh. I've been made fun of before. I'd rather be made fun of for standing up for myself, my people, and my God than to be made fun of for conforming to man's demands. 

Written by: Timiarah A. Camburn


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