kha mom

I've never had a perm, but from a young age, I was taught to have a problem with my natural hair.

I learned that, in spite of what my parents tried to instill in me, my hair would never be acceptable. My mom became the 4C curl whisperer out of love and admiration for what her hair couldn't do. She always prayed for a little girl with hair just like mine. So she had no problem sitting down to do my hair on Sundays or impromptu nights out of the week for the first 13 years of my life. She took pride in my hair for the both of us, so it was no coincidence that she made sure no perm could even be in the same room as me.

When I got older, and my mother's fingers got tired, the responsibility of what was seen in my eyes as "the burden," passed on to me.

I'll never forget the first time I tried to put my hair in a ponytail and tears streamed down my face when I couldn't get all my hair into the Goody band.

(Cue the teenage dramatics.)

It was always rough, untamable, massive, dense, and seemingly intolerable. I just knew I couldn't do it, especially lacking the same creativity, excitement, patience and above all, love that my mom had.

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From that moment, my natural hair journey had begun.

My mom had done everything for me and my strands until I was about 13 years old. Around that time, I started two strand twisting for my life. There were hardly any products -- or at least, none that I knew of -- at the time, so hair grease and water were my very best friends and I loved to experiment with the curling iron. Even though I tortured my hair, and I know I did, around the time that I started to do it myself was when I started to love it. I started realizing the versatility of my hair and just how far twisted styles could go. I taught myself how to flat twist when I couldn't figure out how to cornrow and came up with elaborate updos to show off my skills. I learned how to blow-dry my hair; the comb attachment became my sidekick when it took too long to dry.

And while doing my hair was still an arduous task, everything I learned about the unruliness and unacceptability of it suddenly went out the window when I took responsibility for it myself.

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With the rise of YouTube and SheaMoisture that came during my junior year in college, things did get a bit easier.

My natural hair journey so far has taken a lot of patience, risks, experimentation, innovation, a lot of creativity, and self-love. It has taught me strength and resilience, and what I'm truly made of. And while I can't slick it all the way down, use just one Goody band, or even commit to a wash and go, it can do 100 things and more, and will always show me just what it's made of. I can honestly say that my hair has taught a valuable thing or two about loving myself, and I remain open to more of its lessons.

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