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True Beauty

By Aiden Willis

Gorgeous thick eyebrows and gorgeous, long hair. This was the statement told to me from probably before I can remember. I grew up always having super thick, jet black hair, that I think I probably have always loved in some ways. But, I think I always received some mixed messages about my hair. One of my fondest and a little traumatic memories are the Sunday’s in front of the tv with my mama, and a metal comb placed directly on the hot stove. That comb would then be placed as close to my roots as possible, then ran through the rest of my hair until my kinky curls became straight. My mommy would then make me look so cute and put plaits in different sections; and then the little hair ties with the cute balls on the ends around them. Y’all I was so poppin, and I wish I knew it then. Now don’t get me wrong sometimes my mom would knick my ear, one time she even burned my neck, but those times were special. One time my grandma hot combed my hair and it was honestly one of the best days of my childhood, I wish I had pictures of the three generations of women in the kitchen doing hair and telling stories. My grandmother and mom would always remind me how pretty I looked, I believed them and wished my hair was a little different.

See what I didn’t know as a little girl was that having thick hair, in Memphis, where the humidity is always so overwhelming, I couldn’t wear my hair straight like the other girls. I remember girls at summer camp and school asking, “Aiden, why don’t you wear your hair in a ponytail, or straight, it would be so pretty.” I would ask my mama, to style my hair like that and I would get a hard no and a gentle reminder of how amazing my hair was. So we had to take care of it and protect it. My mom would eventually compromise with me and I would start wearing braids, which were also mad cute...but still it wasn’t the straight hair I wanted and thought needed. Finally at the age of 12, I got my first relaxer, and baby let me tell you. You couldn’t tell me nothing. From middle to high school, I was always the girl with gorgeous hair and a gorgeous smile. My hair honestly, was the featured I liked most on myself, it defined me. But when I got to college, and didn’t have the time or resources to get my hair done every two weeks things changed.

One of my good girlfriends in college, now one of my besties was natural and she would be the one to help me with my transition. Like most black women I found myself not loving my natural hair. It felt unmanageable, odd, and according to the European standards that I had seen all my life, ugly. It took a lot of courage and trust in God’s love for the way He created me to start transitioning. This process was hard, it felt like I was never gonna learn my curl pattern, what products work, or even what style to do. (Those bantu knots soon became my best friend). I cried many tears for about a year, but finally I had a hair full of beautiful curly hair. In that year though, I learned what true beauty looks like. I know this sounds super corny, but beauty starts from within. It starts from what you believe about yourself. The moment you begin to believe Whose you are and Who you belong to is the moment everybody else’s standards of beauty disappears, and yours begins to shine!

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