Tangled up history with hair

Briyah Phillips

It’s 2017; stores are stocked with curl styling creams, leave-in conditioners and curly hair products galore. Big, curly hair is admired and sought after, but this isn’t how it’s always been.

Growing up, my hair was often seen as unruly, unmanageable and odd. For years, I wore my hair up in a ponytail, because I was taught that the natural volume of my hair was messy. In my later elementary years, I found relaxers, which are a conglomerate of chemicals strong enough to burn your skin. I used relaxers to permanently alter my bold luxurious curls into something more generally acceptable.

At that age, I didn’t notice the discrimination; I just thought I was doing something wrong, that my hair was unruly because I didn’t fix it properly. But I was mistaken I wasn’t doing anything incorrect; society just saw my hair as incorrect.

At that time in my life, my best hair days were when my hair was straight. It didn’t matter if my hair or skin was accidentally singed in the process, my hair was neat and that was all that mattered. Between the chemicals and the constant burning, even when I didn’t straighten my hair, it never truly curled. It was a mess of waves that attempted to curl but were weighed down by the views of society. On days when I wore my hair “curly,” I would use giant headbands to keep it from being too big.

But one day, my outlook changed while watching Disney’s “Brave.” The beginning of every naturalist’s journey is different, and mine started with a line from King Ferbus himself. In an imitation of his highly individualistic, seemingly rebellious daughter, he said, “I’m Merida, I want to stay single and let my hair flow in the wind as I ride through the land, firing arrows into the sunset.” I don’t know what it was about that statement-even watching it back now I don’t feel any bit of inspiration-but it caused me to want to let my hair go, to let it flow in the wind no matter what anyone said.

At first, I wasn’t very confident. I did wear my hair curly most of the time but still felt the need to straighten it if I felt like dressing nicer. It wasn’t until I realized  my curls weren’t as curly as they could be that I put the straightener down permanently.

Now I wear my curls as my crown. I am confident without a care in the world for what people think  because this is who I am. If society can’t accept my hair, I don’t want to be included.