As a Black woman who has been sporting natural hair for almost 7 years, I’ve learned that getting a trim is necessary. Before wearing natural hair, I *hated* getting any part of my hair cut. New growth appeared at the speed of paint drying on a wall. My hair seemingly took forever to grow. The 1/8” or ¼” of new growth I got was like gold to me. The last thing I wanted to do was to cut my hair. After writing Hairlooms and better understanding my natural hair, I realize that snipping the ends is exactly what I need to do to “mane”tain healthy hair. Even women with the healthiest heads of hair have to get the dead ends removed over time. While not always pleasant, this cut can be what creates the hair of our dreams. Taking the time to write Hairlooms taught me that split and dry ends are not the only things that need to be cut.
The path to self-love and self-care is top of mind for a lot of Black women. It seems that the world has given our unique brand of beauty the cold shoulder, and we are the eternal outsiders. We can’t always change the perceptions of others, but we can impact how we view and love ourselves. It could be that the best way to add to our feelings of strong self-worth may come with a bit of subtraction. I now know that a good T-R-I-M is indeed the key to loving ourselves – as Black women – from the inside out. Consider these thoughts when learning to love your natural hair and beauty from root -to-tip!
Take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses
Sometimes it’s so easy for me to focus on the things that I don’t have or didn’t do well. If you’re like me, you may quickly gravitate toward your last natural hair fail, sour relationship, or missed promotion. While these events are a part of our lives, they do *not* define who we are. Resist the urge to only see yourself through a negative lens. There are things you do that no one else on the planet can do. Others may have your same skill blend, but who else executes things the way you do?!
No matter how many deficits you count, there are often more assets. Don’t expect others to readily point them out. You’ve got *the goods* so check out your own inventory. Remind yourself of things you’ve done well. Recall the last time you were the calm in a co-worker’s storm. Meditate on the fact that you’re great with money or working with children. No one can make a Sunday brunch quite like you or make sure your sista-friend look *haute* when going on a date! We all have been given a treasure chest of qualities that make us stand-outs in our own right. Make my signature saying your own: My natural hair may shrink, but I won’t!
Resist the urge to compare yourself to others
Why do we tend to think that our natural hair will do something that is *other than* natural?!?! I’ve had to realize that my natural hair is curly in the middle, kinky-coily in the crown, and straight along the edges. These textures just naturally show up and reflect the hair that I got at birth. No chemicals or pomades will forever change the flow and sway of my natural hair. I can say this confidently now, but you should have checked me out a few years ago (smile)! I was *thee* product junky. Every cream that promised that my hair would have a loose curl or be bone straight got my dollars and cents. I believed that if I used the right product, the texture of my hair would forever change. When I realized that this natural hair change wasn’t coming, I did the next best thing. I began to compare myself with other sisters who had the hair I wanted. If I was in a mixer or business meeting with other Black women – like radar – my eyes would scan the room and spot their hair. I’d then begin the vicious cycle of measuring my hair against hers. Never mind the fact that our genetic composition was *completely* different, I wanted just what she had. Now before you judge me, I know I’m not the only one who has or still goes through this exercise. We may not admit it, but our bank accounts often feel our itch to have natural hair that resembles someone else’s natural hair. The best way to snuff this flame is to decide – once and for all – God gave you the hair and qualities He wanted you to have! Embrace your unique gifts, and keep it moving!
Initiate your own change
Don’t laugh at me, but as a native New Yorker I didn’t get my license until I was an older twenty-something (smile)! It took me a while to figure out how to stay in my lane and how to pump the breaks during inclement weather. I definitely took some time moving from the passenger seat to the driver seat. But one thing I learned quick-fast-and-in-a-hurry was that my car would not move unless *I* filled-up the tank. Do you realize that we are responsible for filling-up our self-love, self-respect, and self-affirmation tanks? We may have a Boo, Beau, or Bae but we have to get what’s needed to develop and enhance the love we have for ourselves. Many of my relationships went south quicker than a flock of geese because I was relying on someone else to what only *I* could and should do for myself. Ladies, we have to make it up in our minds that when we jump out of bed, we compliment ourselves. Tell yourself that your natural hair, natural smile, and natural looks are da bomb! Yes, you put on a few more pounds?! You’re still fierce and *you* ought to know it! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting self-inflated delusion. What I am saying is that often times the change I need…starts with me. After going through the BC with my natural hair, I had to be kind and gentle with myself when I walked by a mirror. I was intentional about say, “Michele, your hair looks great. It’s a little shorter than when you rocked your natural hair last year, but you are *still* pretty.” Those kind words actually became seeds I planted to bring about the change that I see, embrace and enjoy today. If you’re looking for a change, start planting seeds of love for yourself – by yourself -- and watch how you begin to flourish!
Make mountains out of molehills
Who didn’t grow-up listening to the saying, “Stop Making Mountains Out of Molehills”? Well I believe that a modern-day spin is needed. When we are taking steps to love our natural hair and beauty from the inside out, we need to celebrate every victory – big and small. All of us have seen a baby take its first step. Their little legs are wobbly and their stand is less than graceful. Nonetheless, when this brave toddler dares to make a move, the entire room erupts in applause. Did people cheer because a mile was run? The answer is, “No”! People celebrate because a step was taken. These truths apply to you and me. Maybe we decided to wrap our natural hair at night or decided to be more gentle when detangling our natural hair. These are small steps, but they are still wins. This week could mark the first time in a *long* time that you decided to hit the gym even though you just got your natural hair styled. That’s a great accomplishment because you’re moving toward a healthier lifestyle. The race to loving ourselves is not about how long it takes to finish. What’s most important is the fact that you started to run. Remember that the fiercest dances are all composed of tiny steps. Get ready to start dancing to your own beat and loving yourself for the true beauty you are!
Change comes over time
I often encourage myself and others with one of my signature phrases, “Change doesn’t come overnight, but it will come over time.” The decision to love yourself – whether you rock natural hair, perms, or weaves – usually doesn’t happen overnight. We must first admit that we’re not always our favorite person, understand why this is the case, develop a strategy for changing our faulty perceptions, and implement what we’ve learned along the way. Like the time spent using the hardtop dryer for our natural hair, the process is worth it. Sitting beneath blasts of hot, dry air can be annoying. A false move, though, can make our natural hair droop or frizz beyond recognition. If we take the time and sit under the heat of change, we’ll find the rough edges of our self-perception becoming smooth and the love we have sought from others will develop in ourselves.
Michele Tapp Roseman is keenly aware of how deeply rooted our feelings about our hair are tangled with our feelings about ourselves. She authored a book called Hairlooms: The Untangled Truth About Loving Your Natural Hair and Beauty and agreed to share her insights with the NaturallyCurly community.
You can read the rest of the book by purchasing it at: