How I got back to my roots and embraced my true self 


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click to enlarge The author, right, and her mother today. - PHOTO BY ANDY PAULISSEN
  • Photo by Andy Paulissen
  • The author, right, and her mother today.

My oldest brother, Courtney, and I often talked about my hair — he was the one person who just got it. I remember one particular conversation. We sat at his kitchen table, a mix of old and modern rap music playing in the background. I listened intently, this short dark-skinned guy in his 40s (my other brothers and I, being younger, always gave him trouble about his age) telling me what it was like growing up for him.

We got on the topic of black women and their hair, and I asked, "How was hair perceived when you were growing up?" His answer surprised me. "Guys wanted girls with 'good hair,' and a weave was something that we looked down on."

That was such an interesting concept. These days, when the conversation surrounding "good hair" sways its ugly head in circles of black women, women with more kinky textures feel less beautiful than their counterparts because of what society has set forth as beautiful. In 2018, many of the black women we see on social media with "good hair" have weaves or wigs.

But we are also just now moving into an era where our natural hair feels good to us. The huge response to the Nappily Ever After movie on Netflix, which portrays a black woman going through her hair journey, shows the hunger for that.

What saddened me the most about my brother's response was the fact that, in response to what the black men around them found beautiful, black women with coarse hair sought long straight hair. They weren't part of a society that embraced their natural hair, and they couldn't even look to those within their own circles to encourage them to be natural.

As he described how hair was viewed when he was younger, I felt myself relating to what those women were going through. How do you feel beautiful in your own skin when everything around you is saying the opposite?

All these things influenced the path of my hair journey. Choosing to free-form my hair was my answer to noise I heard around me. Society's standards, familial history and perception, corporate America, they all faded to the background like the slow winding of the storm sirens on the first Monday of the month.

At one time in my life, I let everything around me essentially influence the love I had for myself. I chased off my thick coils with heat, I hid them behind sew-ins, I dreaded the way my hair would revert to its natural state at the smallest presence of moisture. But I knew I was more than that.

My ancestors forged a path that brought me here. I know that I am the descendant of those strong enough to withstand a long voyage across the sea after being ripped from their homeland, being forced to watch their loved ones brutalized, and humiliated as an example to the others. A life so far from the harmony, love and spiritual morals of the homeland.

I know my history. I know that it is a struggle to reconnect with who we are as black people; our very stories are marked out of history books, often written over or falsified. Our ancestors endured so much, and that is why I choose to live in my truth. I am natural, and I won't apologize for that — not even to those who find my hair outside of the standard of beauty.

My mother has learned to love my hair and what it stands for to me. I understand that traditions are hard to get past, but when one generation takes a step in a new direction, it beckons the older to see its possibilities. Ultimately, my mother wants me to be happy, to love myself as a black woman and to understand who I am. What's important to me is to continue to show other black women and girls that it is OK to love your hair as it grows from your head, no matter the texture. No one yields the beauty that you do, and you must believe that.

I don't care if it makes someone uncomfortable, if it prevents me from obtaining work, if I am any less beautiful to others. I owe it to myself and those before me to reconnect, to set my spirit free. To look a little less neat.

Stephanie Daniels is a freelance writer. She can be reached on Instagram @Mahoganyx_ or via her blog,

Orlando Curl Resource Guide

Porosity. Hair types. Wash day. Binge-watching videos on YouTube. These words likely don't mean much to you if you're not one of the chosen ones with naturally curly hair. There's a deep, dark world of coconut oil-loving people, and I'm proud to be one of them.

In 2011, against my family's wishes, I went natural not knowing if I'd look desirable or professional. In short, "going natural" occurs when a person, mainly women, especially of color, stop chemical hair treatments to allow their hair to revert back to its natural state. Many women decide to do the big chop, which involves cutting their hair off to start over. This transition can be liberating and stressful because it inherently involves going against the societal norms of having long, straight hair. Comedian Chris Rock shocked the world in 2009 when he released Good Hair, a documentary filled with colorful imagery about the natural hair community at large and the detrimental health effects associated with using traditional hair products. The film started a long-lasting global conversation concerning how people view health and hair.

Today, even for most, the hair transition will take courage and a little unnecessary education in the workplace, but it's worth it to better their health and to strengthen their identity.

And with every new year, there come new opportunities to make healthy changes. Why not let your hair be one of them? Let's raise a bottle of kombucha to the wavy, curly, coily and kinky hair types bouncing with boldness around Orlando because representation, even within the hair community, deeply matters.<– Chauniqua Major-Louis

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Major is a popcorn maker, publicist and content creator based in Orlando, with hair just as big as her personality. Find her on Instagram at @MajorCreates

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