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By Sheniqka Miller
As a young girl, I never gave it much thought of what it meant to be natural. Yes, I had identity issues. Like many of our misled African-American youth, I looked to the European styles depicted in all forms of media to compare to myself. The media (then and now) commonly portrays this look of straight and sleek hair as the image of beauty. Looking at my tough and kinky coils, I begged and pleaded with my mother to purchase a relaxer: (“the creamy crack”). After relaxing my coils at age 10, my life drastically changed. I simply could not identify and accept myself as being beautiful, just the way I was. Much like my relaxed hair, I became conditioned to believe that my natural hair was too different than what society deemed worthy of being celebrated.
This is our sad truth as Black women within a society who tells us that we must alter what we were born with to be accepted as beautiful. Living among people in a society that celebrates what I simply was not naturally, I did not know how to properly care for my own coils. I was too afraid and too self-conscious to learn. My hair before the perm was thick, yet hard at the touch. Anyone who touched my hair swore I was a chore to bear. I cried bloody murder every time someone roughly broke out a comb to part it. Also, I was not looking forward to the comments I became so familiar with hearing about my hair like, “Your hair drinks grease, it’s so dry!” or “Girl you have that bad and nappy black people hair!” With phrases like these coming from others (including black women), how could I identify or associate my hair or even myself as beautiful? I was too blinded with self-hate to truly see that all my hair and I needed was some TLC and the proper knowledge of caring for her and myself. Over time, it would take witnessing the severe damage I was subjecting my hair to before I built up the courage to discover the secrets to
unlocking the inner Queen I’d harbored inside.
The Birth of a Queen…
On my own natural hair journey, I discovered that for me, it did not take much to show the proper love and care my hair needed and deserved. The first change I had to make was inside. Self-love needs to be present! I channeled the energy I built to give myself more love by creating a simple regimen that I could stick to. With less hassle and expectation, I would nurture my hair and let her do her thing. My staple products (to start with) were a sulfate free shampoo, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and hair oil. That’s it! I would wash and condition my hair only and use the oil as a seal to lock in all the moisture. I continued this regimen for months before I started to notice any growth. Of course, I was turned off by the stringy straight pieces of hair that were hanging on for dear life as my budding curlies started to take form. I could not believe it. I had curly soft hair! I fell in love. I took a pair of shears and said goodbye to 3 inches of straight and chemically fried hair. A heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders as the final wisps of my past were cut away. I began to really look at myself. I loved my defined features, my pronounced eyes, full lips, all perfectly aligning with my natural hair. I felt regal. I felt free. A queen was born!
I find myself reflecting on major moments in my life and the unconventional roads taken to achieve such noticeable growth – for both my hair and myself as an individual. I began to realize I was always that individual who is young, gifted and black but simply did not recognize any of those qualities within myself because I originally adhered to conformity. How did I, born into a society that once conditioned me to believe that we should not be comfortable within our natural skin become self-confident enough to love herself? We are often encouraged by society to conform to mainstream critics’ opinion of beautiful. Attempting to do this, can cramp the Queen inside. I could not express or attain what the real me wanted because I was smothering her with thoughts on how I could become better rather than working and loving who I was naturally. I learned to love myself enough to accept myself as is – kinky hair and all! We can become consumed with the unnecessary factors in life that we are blinded from what is most important: what lies within. Self-preservation is key.
We are often encouraged by society to conform to mainstream critics’ opinion of beautiful. Attempting to do this, can cramp the Queen inside. I could not express or attain what the real me wanted because I was smothering her with thoughts on how I could become better rather than working and loving who I was naturally.
Becoming natural was the starting point for me to use that positive energy (manifested from a journey of self-love), and allow it to transcend into my everyday approach to all aspects of achieving my dreams. I found courage and strength from self-love and empowerment to get involved and collaborate with other like-minded individuals. I went out more, uncaring of how I looked in comparison to anyone. I finally found love for myself through loving my natural hair! Once I’d become better acquainted with my internal voice and truly listened, I could hone in and discern my internal needs. With a positive outlook on life, awareness of self and a faith built to last: the world worked to help achieve my goals.
To all my aspiring or current naturals out there: because you do less to show your beauty does not undermine your greatness. Even lazy naturals much like myself, are shining gorgeously and confidently! There lies beauty in simplicity! There lies restorative power in loving on ourselves in whatever way we see fit!
Sheniqka Miller is a writer and journalist embarking on a new journey of self-love and women empowerment. Her goal is to spark a light that others can witness and feel inspired to spark one of their own.
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Tallahassee, FL 32301