"Being around so many beautiful black girls and women who love dance really helped me feel super proud to be me."
Jade Jackson was just three years old when she stood on the toilet and declared, “I hate my hair!,” while frantically trying to pull it straight. It was the first sign that she and her hair were going to have issues.
Fast forward a few years and Jade was obsessed with the typically straight hair worn by her favorite Disney princesses. She went from wearing a combination of bangs and afropuffs, to wanting her mane straightened all the time. By age six, her mom gave her a kiddie perm to achieve the look she desired, and Jade was happy.
“I really wanted straight hair to help me fit in and give me confidence,” she explains.
Low self esteem was an area in which Jade had struggled since preschool. As the only black child in class, other kids would call her names like ‘poop.’ Sadly, straight hair did little to garner the acceptance she was looking for. In fact, things only grew worse as she got older.
According to her mom Crystal, “Though she was in the second grade, everyday was like the first day of school all over again because I had to give her a pep talk.”
When Crystal couldn't get any support from the other moms, some tried to blame Jade for their own kids' negative behavior. Finally, Crystal did something that had been on her mind for a few years. She began homeschooling her and it was a move that paid off because her confidence blossomed. To make sure that she would get the socialization she needed, Crystal also enrolled Jade in Dance Theater Of Harlem.
“Being around so many beautiful black girls and women who love dance really helped me feel super proud to be me,” says Jade. “But, I still felt a strong connection to straight hair.”
Ironically, her newfound confidence was due to the compliments she received because of her straight bob hairstyle. So, when it started breaking off, Jade was devastated.
“I couldn't believe it,” she recalls, “I felt my self-esteem going down all over again.”
When her mom suggested she cut it and go natural, she resisted. She couldn’t imagine life without her straight hair. But as the weeks passed and her hair kept breaking off, Jade reached a breaking point, too.
“I started thinking that maybe Mom was right. Maybe I’d be doing myself a favor. I always thought that straight hair was going to bring me up, but it never really gave me anything.”
On the day of the big chop, Jade was a basket of nerves. Her mom did the cutting- it helped that she was a hairdresser back in the day- and when she finished, Jade loved it.
Now 10 years old, and with the cutest little fro ever, she says, “I’ll never go back to straight hair!”
Crystal says her confidence shot to a level 10 after the chop and everyday, people compliment her. And yes, the girls at Dance Theater of Harlem love it, too!
If Jade could give a message to other African American girls she’d say, “I want them to know that they have power and they are beautiful.”
This is a
I'm sure every natural can relate! I hope you enjoy.
Dr. Kristian H of http://www.drkristianh.com
"I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectations" - India Arie
When I was in middle school, a boy I had a crush on said that I was cute, but that he didn’t date girls with “my kind of hair.” I was not sure what was wrong with “my kind of hair,” but presumably he meant the short kind. Although I never really understood what he meant, that comment really stuck with me, because I’ve hated my hair for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wished it were just a little bit longer. A tad bit fuller. And much, much thicker.
Although I was late to the natural hair movement, when I discovered it in 2013, I thought I had found the golden grail. After reading countless hair blogs and watching hundreds of YouTube videos, I concluded that sulfates, chemical relaxers, and heat were the cause of my short, damaged, and thin hair. All I needed to do was co-wash my tresses, use protective styles, and take some hair vitamins, and I too could have thick curly hair. All of my hair problems would be solved.
And so my natural hair journey began, but for quite the wrong reasons. I stopped getting relaxers, and within months my hair started shedding like crazy. According to my extensive online research, the place where your natural hair meets your relaxed hair is called the “point of demarcation” and it is very fragile. Intense deep conditioning is encouraged, but some women just experience more shedding than others. I was one of those women that experienced intense shedding. So after a month of my hair falling out in handfuls, a new beautician pushed me to cut my hair. Recognizing my anxiety, she tried to leave some of my relaxed hair at the top, so I didn’t feel quite as bad. After a few weeks of looking a bit crazy, one my besties sat me down with some scissors, and said, “Sweetie, that hair at the top has to go. Trust me, it will look better.” Full of fear, I finally gave in, and let her cut the last bit of relaxed hair off the top of my head. I felt a mix of emotions. I was relieved but nervous. Over the next few days, she taught me how to finger coil my new teeny weeny afro (TWA), showed me her favorite products, and introduced me to edge control. I was determined to do this right. So I changed my diet, starting working out, drinking water, cutting chemicals out of my diet and my beauty products, all to add in my hair growth (and body goals). Healthy hair comes from healthy habits, I kept reading. So being the over-achiever I am, I adopted all of the healthy habits I could.
Anytime I got depressed about my less than an inch of hair, I would just google natural hair styles, and day dream of how my hair would look in a year or two. According to all the hair blogs, you could count on about ½ inch of hair growth every month. So I expected to have a head full of bouncy moisturized curls within a year. And I just knew that within 2 years, I would be slaying my IG with all of the natural girl hair styles. All of my friends had long luscious hair after so effortlessly going natural, so I knew it was possible. I told myself that if I could just put up with my TWA for a year or so, I would have a lifetime of healthy curly hair.
But after a year, something terrible happened. My hair was growing so slow. I was definitely not getting ½ inch per month. My hair was not getting thicker and my curls were not popping like the girls in the blogs. I tried two strand twists, braid outs, and wash-and-gos and they all looked a hot mess. I felt like the natural hair movement had failed me. My hair did not have the curl all the naturals had on my IG feed. I was furious. I had done everything right. I had not put heat on my hair in over a year. I easily spent thousands of dollars on all of the latest hair care products. I was indeed a hair product junkie. And I was eating clean. I lost 30 pounds! But my hair? My God, my hair, just would not act right.
I hit a low point when I found myself single after my husband and I separated. Having short hair and a husband was one thing. But having short hair and being single was something entirely different. I’m sure that some guys prefer short hair, but my experience has always been that guys prefer longer hair—they may not care if hair is straight or curly, but they secretly want women to have hair, lots of it, and ideally not the kind you have to buy. My hair an area of real insecurity.
Dealing with all of this anxiety and self-doubt, I met a very blunt, borderline-rude executive type, and after a few drinks, he looked at me and said, “I don’t usually like girls with natural hair. You would look so much prettier with a weave.” I wish I could say I cursed him out or that threw my drink on him or that I gave him a lecture on black beauty and respectability politics. But I did neither. I shrunk in my seat, laughed it off, and said, “Oh yeah, I was thinking about getting a weave.”
A few weeks later, I was driving an hour away to get my first full weave. Although I didn’t want to make decisions about my hair based on what I thought would attract a man, I still heard the voice of that middle school boy in my head. I justified my actions by telling myself that I was getting a protective style that would help my natural hair grow so that after a few months, my big beautiful curls would be hiding underneath. But a few months turned into an over a year, and I still had nothing to show for the thousands of dollars I spent on the best weaves, closures, and wigs that money could buy.
More importantly, after a few installs I realized I didn’t even like weaves, because I actually didn’t want bone straight Eurocentric hair. I wanted curly, kinky, textured hair and I wanted to be able to work out without worrying about looking crazy. That’s when I discovered crochet braids, and I have been addicted ever since. They are healthier for my hair, I can still workout, and they are cheaper than a weave and faster to install.
The only problem is that they don’t help me deal with the emotional and psychological baggage I have with my God-given hair. I still haven’t accepted who I truly am, because I still hated the stuff that grew out of my head. I have realized that I have fine hair that will just never be thick and full. It will never look like the girls on IG. Yes, it will grow, but it will always be thin. My TWA is not a phase. It’s my chosen hairstyle. My hair is short, and I am still beautiful. And I am learning to love the texture, length, and type of hair that grows out of my head. And I can only hope that the natural hair movement will be less about achieving someone else’s look or length, and more about accepting ourselves as we are. Naturally beautifully.
Tell me a little about yourself and your hair journey.
Hi! my name is Miosha and I’m from Miramar, Florida
How long have you been natural? Have you always embraced your curls?
I have been natural since April 2011. I did not initially embrace my curls because I couldn’t find the right products to agree with my hair.
Who motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
My motivation to transition came about because I was in a phase in my life where I was trying to find myself. My marriage was coming to an end and I was caring for my son who has cerebral palsy which is a full time job within itself. Life during that particular time was really stressful. I needed a change and I just wanted to embrace who I really was. I think I transitioned for all of three months lol. Then one day I decided I didn’t want to transition anymore so I went to the salon and had them to cut it all off. It was a very emotional and liberating experience for me and I have no regrets
How would you describe your hair?
My hair is very thick and coarse. Over the years I’ve learned that my hair loves water and curls up like crazy when wet so my go to style is usually a wash and go.
What do you love most about your hair?
I love the versatility. My tapered cut is my go to style, but I’ve rocked all kinds of color with it and I can wear my cut as a fro, twist out or wash and go.
What has been the most memorable part of your journey?Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part of my journey is being free and just plain ol fierce!! Trust me I went through alot of trial and error during my journey but I enjoyed the process. I love my hair, I love who I have become during this journey.
What are (or were) some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles or current dos’?
My current fave hair dos’ is my wash and go. Occasionally I will rock a twist out.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural.’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
I get stopped all the time about my hair. They usually stop to compliment, ask what products do I use or are looking for a stylist who specializes in natural hair.
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
I wash my hair with Kinky Curly Come Clean shampoo every two weeks to give my hair and scalp a good cleaning from all the product build up. Between that time I cowash every two to three days with the Matrix Biolage cleansing conditioner for curly hair (I love this stuff!!). I also do a deep conditioning treatment at least twice a week with the Ouidad Curl Recovery Extreme Meltdown Mask.. This is a must have in my regimen especially with me having color treated hair. For my wash and gos’ I use the Kinky Curly Curling custard as well as the Kinky Curly Knot today as a leave in I like to use avocado oil to seal in moisture. For my twistouts I use As I am Twist defining cream with a little Eco styler gel for extra hold.
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites,YouTuber’s, or blogs?
My fave naturals to watch on You Tube are askProy, Miss Ken K, Abi’s Hair NL and Beauty Cutright just to name a few.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
My advice for readers would be to understand that your journey is for you. Don’t let anyone’s opinion about what you chose to do with YOUR hair affect your decisions. Be you, love you and do it well.
Where can people find you for more information?
Im on Instagram as Naturaldivaa