essays mixed-race opinion

Hair Growth


2020 has been a hard year for many people. During times like these, it is often good to reflect upon things that bring joy, or things that you’re thankful for. One simple thing that I have been thankful for this year is hair growth. I’ll tell you why. Since high school, (many moons ago for me) I’ve kept my hair around shoulder length. Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, but in and around shoulder length had been where I felt the most comfortable with my hair. It’s big and curly, and its been a journey to discover what works for my hair, and what doesn’t. One that I am currently still on.

When I graduated with my Master’s in 2012, I wanted to wear my hair straight for the graduation ceremony, so a friend helped me to flat iron it. Everything went great with the ceremony, but when I went to wash my hair a few days later, my hair would not curl back. Apparently the heat setting on the flat iron was too high, and I had irreversible heat damage. Nothing I did worked to restore my curls back to their natural state. At most, my hair had a slight wave to it. I tried all of the heat damage restorative treatments, and methods, but my hair was fried, and there was nothing that I could do but wait for my curls to grow back from the roots.

My hair a year or so after I did the big chop.

My straightened hair was quite long, and down my back. I kept it for a few months, until it started to look weird with the newly growing curly hair. So then came the big chop, which was a shock to me. I had never had such short hair before! It was only a few inches long, and looked like a curly afro. It took some time for me to gain my self confidence, but dressing my hair up in different styles helped. I would wear flowers, decorative headwraps, and even learned how to put my hair into a fro-hawk. I began to learn to accept, and enjoy my hair as it is. No one had hair like mine while I was growing up, and I received a lot of negativity about it while growing up. My hair was “nappy”, “too big”, I would often hear that I should straighten it because I’d look so much better with straight hair. I was never too keen on my hair being straightened, and have always enjoyed my curly hair much more.

Fast forward to 2020, there’s a global pandemic, and most of us have been spending much more time at home. For the majority of this time, I’ve been wearing my hair in what I’ve called my “2020 braids”, which are just two pigtail braids. Pre-pandemic, I decided to grow my hair out, just to see how long it would get before I’d want to cut it, and keeping it in braids has allowed it to grow a lot. Simple is sometimes better, especially when it comes to hair.

Earlier this year, I stopped using coconut oil on my hair, as it didn’t really moisturize it the way I wanted it to anymore, and switched to almond oil. Almond keeps my hair healthy, and I can also use it on my skin! Who doesn’t love a two for one? I also use a shea butter leave in conditioner by Cantu. I’ve been washing and deep conditioning my hair once a week, and then putting these two products on my hair before braiding them. I’ll redo the braids daily if they look shabby, and that’s it.

My “2020 braids”.

When life can feel overwhelming, take a step back, and write down what you’re grateful for, even if it’s something simple like hair growth. You may be surprised at just how much there is to be thankful for! What positive things has 2020 brought you?

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