Learning to love and care for your curls is a journey and while it's not an easy one, it's most certainly worth it. Living in a society that has a narrow scope of how beauty is defined can be intimidating as a young girl growing up with a head full of curly coarse hair who feels like she's not being seen. Regardless of what the media shows us, there is nothing more beautiful than rocking your natural crown unapologetically and I hope to inspire many girls by sharing natural hair stories. I spoke with NaturallyCurly editor April Bingham about her natural hair journey, how it's affected her self-esteem and how she got through the transition phase. Here's her story.

April B 9 years-old

My hair journey has been one of acceptance.

Accepting my texture, understanding its beauty, and its "limitations" (nothing will change a 4A into a 3B, y'all), and more often than not accepting that I needed to relax...in the spiritual sense, about my length.

No one told me that when I started relaxing my hair I'd have to do it my whole life!

Had someone mentioned to 9-year-old April 'Hey, you're going to have to keep up with this until you die', I probably wouldn't have STOPPED being natural ever!

So my biggest challenge was very much one of 'Why can't my hair be out like all the other girls' ?'

I'm almost entirely certain my family was one of maybe...five in all of Corpus when I was growing up. And I was the only black child at school—meaning the only braids, the only cornrows, the only poofy segments in those evil hard plastic bubbles. I was always so sad that after it was blown or pressed straight I couldn't just have it STAY that way.

April B afro

"My hair says I'm free. I'm free of the mindset that says I have no choice in whether to wear my hair straight or not and free of the need to bow to expectations that say I need to 'tone down' my mane to make other people more comfortable."

My transitioning regimen involved lots and lots of cornrowing!

Which I hated. I wanted big Robert Smith hair at all times, and even though I was protecting my new growth, I was miserable. Eventually, we progressed to other protective styles with extensions, and the routine was 'Mommy sink washes and deep conditions me, gets the TB grease on my scalp, then blows everything straight, before braiding. Looking back, I had a lot of heat used on my hair even while I was transitioning...I assume whatever was in the old gold and purple Motions bottles protected me from breakage.

April B Fall fashion and twists

The most memorable moment of my hair journey . . .

There was a moment where I went back to a "mild perm" with Mommy's convincing, around age 15. We did it at the house, it burned, I cried, all my hair fell out, and I cried some more. I still regret it, as I'd have twice the length I do now without it. But the day I realized we just washed it out with regular shampoo and not neutralizing shampoo, I lost it a little bit. And from there, much as I love, love, LOVE her, I resolved that I'd make my own hair decisions exclusively.

April B with her twists in a pineapple and scarf

I feel most confident in long braids in the half side-ponytail 'do I've been rocking for the last decade.

I was (and am) very self-conscious about my five-head. But my goth-lite sense of aesthetics fit with sweeping my hair over my face as much as possible! When the big chop made that impossible without constant straightening, I started getting really big into microbraids, and from there, just extended braids that mom could do for me.

April's Hair Regimen & Holy Grails

If my hair's not in crochet braids or box braids, it's a twist out. I prefer to do a LCO method with my rosewater/rainwater mix, Mielle Organics Moisturizing Avocado Hair Milk as my cream and Phytospecific's Baobab Oil as the oil in that equation. I like to cowash every other week—and I mean cowash with actual conditioner. Camille Rose Naturals' Moroccan Pear Conditioning Custard has been good to me on that front. I usually mask up about once a month, and I'm enjoying the results from Coconut Restore's Keratin Intensive Repair Masque. Internal maintenance is KEY for growth, and Curls' Blissful Lengths Liquid Hair Growth Vitamin is really working for me. My 'edges' reach my eyebrows now.

April B hair journey

What inspired you to go natural? We'd love to hear your story, comment below.