When I started kindergarten I was only 4 years old, I had the meanest teacher and I came home from school every day and I would cry. You see, at only 4 years old I was already wondering why my hair wasn’t as straight as the other girls around me. I have quite the colorful background being Puerto Rican and Cherokee on my mother's side, and Bahamian and Cuban on my father’s side. Our house is very loud and we eat tons
of tasty foods, but it was almost guaranteed since birth that I’d have very curly hair.
My mom started chemically straightening my hair with relaxers at a young age. Hair relaxers are simply lotions or creams that are applied to help make hair easier to straighten or manage, but it also chemically alters the structure of curly hair. For 6-8 weeks, I’d have straight hair just like the other girls around me. As I got older, my desire for straight hair actually got worse.
Once I discovered the effects of chemically straightening my hair and using a flat iron on it, I was absolutely in love with how straight it was. I bought a flat iron that was severely overpriced, and straightened my hair into oblivion. In my hair crisping haze, I saw a picture of my hair when I was little; it was full, long, and shiny. My hair currently? Thin, short, damaged, and lifeless. I swore off relaxers, took a break from my flat iron, and got haircuts as regularly as I could. I went 4 years dedicated to that lifestyle, and when I picked up a flat iron for Prom everyone judged me. “I thought you were natural now” they said, but to that I say: why do I have to pick a side?
I realize the damages of excessive heat and relying on relaxers for straight hair, but I also no longer rely on straight hair for self-confidence. Curly, straight, wavy, “natural”, or colored my hair looks great and I feel great. I feel as women, and especially women of color, our hair textures often rule our lives. It’s amazing the things you can do when you aren’t living life worried about sweating, rain, or any drop of moisture that may touch your hair and ruin how straight it is.
It’s just hair. You can cut it, color, pour chemicals on it, and burn it off but it’ll always grow back; a little weak at first, but give it time and it’ll be as strong and healthy as ever without the Sugar Bear Hair gummies. Your hair is beautiful and strong no matter what it may look like, just like someone else.