By Lilly Williams
For as long as I have had a say in how my hair looked, I have always erred on the side of low maintenance. I grew up with less melanated friends who could just wash their hair every day and go, and I wanted to do that too. It did not take me long to realize that this was not the case for me. Detangling, shampooing, conditioning, detangling again, and blow drying was the routine of wash day. This would either be followed by a trip to the braid shop or the sizzle of a hot comb.
During the latter half of my middle school days, my routine changed. I began going to the beauty shop to get that good ole creamy crack. After a few months of getting consistent “treatment” my hair slowly but surely began breaking. The more I went, the worse my hair got. Arguably, it was not as bad as it could’ve been, but I was tired of my hair not looking the way I wanted it to. I wanted convenience and to look and feel confident again, so back to braids I went.
Junior year of high school, my parents said that I could try weave and I jumped on the opportunity. I could have straight hair at the volume I wanted and not get a relaxer? Sign me up. This was fairly short lived when I realized that weave life was not for me. Specifically after seeing pictures of myself with a style that had been inspired by a young Jazmine Sullivan and her sharp straight across bang. Except on me, I looked like I was someone’s first lady. Again, back to braids I went. I was happy with my default style, but I knew that I wanted to try something different.
Finally, the summer before starting college, I took the plunge and began wearing my natural hair out. It was freeing and well timed with me starting undergrad. It was like a marker for the beginning of my journey of self discovery and acceptance. However, as freeing as it was, it was equally as frustrating. With my 4C porous hair, long gone were the days of convenience. I watched countless youtube tutorials about wash and go’s and girls who used one singular curling creme to get the styles they wanted.
I tried a wash and go one time. Let’s just say it did not work out the way I imagined it would. *Picture Samuel L Jackson in pulp fiction*. I had to accept the fact that I would not have the bouncy curls so frequently advertised big name brand hair products. I spent hours upon hours in the dorm bathroom trying all kinds of products and routines. But I loved it. I found that doing my hair was a challenge I was willing to take on.
Fast forward to today. At 23 years old I have tried almost every protective style in the book. I absolutely love how versatile my hair is and how many different looks I can choose from. I’ve learned how to corn row, box braid, crochet, do braid downs for wigs, and trim my own ends. (I refuse to pay someone to do my hair, barring a skill I have not yet mastered).
I don’t always like my hair but I’ve learned what it can and cannot do. I’ve set real expectations for it, but still pushed my own boundaries. I love the hair that God has blessed me with and continue to look for new ways to show it off.