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My Natural Hair Set Me Free

By Moriah Comarcho-Mikhail

There’s this expectation to be done up all the time and fit one look. I felt it growing up if my hair wasn’t blown out perfectly straight, or at least slick back. There was a certain level of freedom I felt when I first encountered the natural hair movement in high school. I didn’t have to look forward to salon trips just to feel pretty. Still, in many ways the natural hair community has internalized standards of acceptability for natural hair that are unattainable and exclusive.

The mainstream movement has perpetuated this idea that you have to have a certain hair type, your pattern has to be perfectly defined, and if you want to experiment and wear different styles, it has to be professionally done. I think I tried to fit those standards for some time, but they’d make me view my hair as somehow inadequate, and I eventually felt like I was losing the whole point of embracing my natural hair. Friends and other family members helped me recalibrate and be unafraid to experiment and wear my hair how I wish. Seeing other Black women close to me learn, try out different styles themselves, and even help me out, has been a gateway for me to understand my hair more.

I’m proud of where I am now. I'm free to experiment with styles, test out different methods and products. Yet, this journey is not linear or final. There are times where I’ll throw a tantrum trying to detangle on washday or give up on a new style halfway through and throw a headscarf on. Flexibility with my hair is something I’ve come to embrace. If braiding is getting tiring I’ll do a half braided half-out look. If passion twists aren’t twisting the way they're supposed to, they’ll become jumbo twists. Failed wash n go’s will turn into a pineapple bun.

I like exploring my hair and its possibilities whether it comes out awkward, messy or not the way it’s “supposed” to look. Having grace with yourself for everything is important and that started with my hair for me. I really hope that others navigating their hair journeys find that small community to embrace and inspire them while allowing themselves space for grace and growth.

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