People get so tired of hearing about it, but it's true. The hair on my head and the skin on my back wasn't anything that I was taught to embrace. Rather, I had to learn to embrace it. I had to learn to embrace -Me- In all of my blackness.
I can actually recall when I was younger, wanting hair textures that were opposite of my own; even sometimes thinking that if my complexion were a bit lighter I would appeal more to the world around me. Reading this, you'd probably think it was a self-hate issue but interestingly enough, it's not.
The issue was that I didn't know myself. I didn't know that my dark skin was just as beautiful as white skin, and every complexion in between. I didn't know that my thick thick hair was actually beautiful without any chemicals in it. I didn't know. I didn't know. I didn't know because I didn't see it in the world around me. And it was hard to know. It was hard to know when I grew up seeing the women who looked like me be uneasy standing in the sun because "Ooh I'm getting dark"- or taking group pictures with friends and always hearing the remark, "Eew, I look too dark." Well, what was wrong with being dark? I didn't know. I remember hearing guys around me say "I don't like dark skinned women' 'light-skinned girls are more of my type." Well, what was wrong with dark-skinned women? I didn't know. The women around me were always wanting weaves and relaxers because they felt that the hair that grew out of their own head was "not cute". Don't get me wrong, I love weaves but I did not know that my natural hair would look just as good! In school, girls like me were ridiculed for wearing their own hair & picked on being told, "you look a mess, you need to get your hair done" and 'done' meaning, in a weave.
I actually grew up hearing these things... and being a natural sponge, eventually, I believed them to be true. I began to believe that lighter skin was better than darker skin- that straight, long, and 'flowy' hair was better than my thick kinky curly hair. I even remember saying I would never go natural, thinking that it didn't suit me. How ridiculous is that? The hair that grew out of my own head didn't suit me..
But then again, how could I have thought otherwise? How could I have thought otherwise when all that was around me was teaching me that who I was, was not wanted, appealing, or even deemed upon as acceptable. The sad part is, is that it goes way deeper than my hair and skin. But ultimately how could I have thought otherwise?
My relationship with God definitely taught me. Experiencing Him, and knowing that I was a child of His- created by Him- "fearfully and wonderfully made"- I couldn't help but feel great understanding that if this great God made me, I had to be special..
The natural hair movement has been a beautiful thing in itself as well- An embodiment of black women, embracing themselves, cutting off their relaxed hair, letting it grow naturally, eating, being, living healthier, and thankfully documenting what it's like to be "me". The time came and I was finally seeing women with my hair and complexion being glorified, being liked and being loved all to the point where I could finally see the beauty in it myself. I haven't always loved my complexion. There were times where I thought that if I were lighter, I'd look better. There were times where I felt like I was "too dark" but now, I don't mind staying in the sun to be burnt a little longer. My skin is rich, it's dark and it's me. After spending most of my life with my own hair relaxed, I finally began to be curious to know what my own hair would look like, and so, I cut it all off and let it grow. 1 year and a few months later, I'm so truly happy I did. I can see my hair growing out of my head, naturally, and I love it. It's funny, I've had this hair all my life, but now, 22 years along the road, I'm learning it. Now I'm embracing it. Now, I am loving it. Now I am loving Me- In all of my blackness.