Friday, November 18, 2011

Brooklyn Jackson's Natural Hair Journey

My Natural Hair Journey
By Brooklyn Jackson

“I am not my hair, I am not the skin, I am not your expectations, no, I am not my hair, I am not the skin, I am the soul that lives within” lyrics by India Arie. As for myself I am my hair, and it has created memorable chapters in my life. My hair is truly my crown, my life, my glory, and I wouldn’t change any of the trial and tribulations we shared together. The memories I had with my tresses taught me a lot about myself. My natural hair journey started out liberating, after that it became stressful, then I started to appreciate it, and finally it helped me develop confidence. 

It all started my seventh grade year when I decided to transition my relaxer to my natural hair texture. I wore cornrows for the rest of the school year to help the transitioning process move quicker. Around the middle of summertime I made the choice to finally eliminate my relaxed ends. This was a huge change in my life and it took time to get use to. After the big chop, it made me feel like a brand new person and as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. This was one decision I knew I would never regret.

The first day of my eighth grade year, I felt as if I gained a fresh start and that made me feel very positive. Many students recognized my change in attitude. They constantly asked me questions on why I made that drastic move.
The students didn’t quite understand why I would go natural when I could chemically process my hair to be straight. I didn’t care of what they thought or thought I should do. I felt proud to represent as the only African American girl in my grade to rock an afro. Toward the middle of my eighth grade year, I received bad news from my dermatologist that I had a scalp infection. The medicines required to heal my scalp suggested I wear a scarf to school everyday. It was an embarrassing process and I was annoyed by dumb questions. But once my scalp was better I decided to go through the rest of the year wearing protective styles.

I was finally done with middle school, and was excited to start my freshman year of high school. I started my year out with individual braids, so I could add growth to my hair. My hair was kind of uneven and I was starting to feel impatient. By the second semester I decided to straighten it for the first time since seventh grade. I received compliments and soon became obsessed with my new look. Having my hair straight made me realize how much I missed my relaxer. After that point I constantly would keep my hair straight. The more and more I continued to put heat on my hair, the more my curls became damaged. I was starting to feel as if I was loosing grip of the person I was born to be. I had to talk to my mother to know if putting chemicals back into my hair would be a good or bad decision. She would stress that it was extremely unhealthy. At that point I was stuck between whom to believe, either my friends or my family.

For my sophomore year of high school, I wanted a new style that didn’t involve a lot of work. I had developed stress because my hair was hard to manage and that made me build frustration as well. I was at the point to where I needed a break, so I decided to try dreads. I wanted my hair to look similar to neo-soul artist, Goapele. I was determined to reach this goal, while knowing the consequences. I knew once my hair was in dreaded form, I couldn’t go back. I was willing to take the risk though. The beginning stage was rocky and I wasn’t in love with it. It was starting to look a wild tangled mess and it was hard transforming my hair to appear decent. I tried to remember my goal, but the process was difficult. I was starting to miss all the versatility options I use to have. The option to wear it in curls, braids, twists, or have it straightened. I wasn’t enjoying the obligation to one style. I was missing my form of expression. So I finally decided to take my dreads out before they became dreaded. I felt relieved and proud of my decision. I realized it was too early in life to make a permanent choice, like dreads. I was still in the trial and error journey in my life but this little experience made me appreciate my natural hair.

When I entered my junior year of high school, I promised myself I would embrace my naturalness. I became more and more interested in learning how to obtain healthy hair. I was also interested in learning how to do my own hair. I would research products that were healthy and good for my hair type. I soon realized I wasn’t the only person who transitioned from a relaxer. There was a whole community out there devoted to people who wanted to learn how to care for their natural hair. This included many websites, and the annual natural hair show hosted in AtlantaGeorgia. It was as if I had been exposed to a brand new culture or something. I had come to a point where I was practically obsessed and was my number one topic. I took the responsibility to care for my own hair involving shampooing, conditioning, blow drying, and styling. I was even confident to rock my afro again. Students and teachers loved my hair; the compliments boosted my confidence even more. It made me feel achieved and proud of how far I came in my journey.
Once I finished junior year and summer came, I decided I was going to rock my curls for most of the time. Overlooking my journey I began to gain interest in cosmetology. My love for hair could be shared with others. I want to make other people fall in love with their hair like I did. I also want to give people satisfaction and healthy hair. I developed inspiration and now my goal is to become a hair guru like Derek J, and Ursula Stephens.

It’s finally my senior year of high school and my relationship with my hair is rocky. Since I had a slight obsession with straightening my hair in the past, I’m suffering from heat damage. So my plan is to transition, so I can have more new growth then go through a second BC. Everyone makes mistakes and I just want to give myself another shot at obtaining healthy hair. Overall my journey was relieving, frustrating, then I was thankful, and lastly I could hold my head high. All these stages helped me build as a person. This could also be looked at as a journey to a new me. To this day I still have days where I love my hair, and days where I hate my hair. But all in all, I never gave up and I've been five years strong. I am excited to experience many more years to add to my memories, including the result of my BC. 

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