My entire life has been this constant struggle with beauty. As a young black girl in this massive country called America, I’ve always felt this pressure to achieve the conceptualized American dream of beauty. I’ve come to terms with my body image over the years.Growing up I was always the tallest female in the class and my body developed pretty quick once I hit middle school. I’ve come to love and appreciate my body over the years, but my hair has always been this up and down process. When I was little (picture to the right…aww i was so cute!) I used to always laugh and cry while getting my hair done. I never had nappy( or to be politically correct “coarse”) hair, my texture has always been really curly. Partially I owe it to my heritage, I’m black, Cherokee, Natchez, and I have strong irish roots, Jamaican and Puerto rican. In the summer I get blondish orange strands in my hair and I’m always puzzled by the natural highlighting.
By the time I reached 7 I was officially tired of having curly hair. I went to a predominately white school when I left Columbus, OH and moved to Colorado Springs for 5 years. Every so often at school girls would want to touch my hair and ask questions about why it was different from theirs. I guess peer pressure doesn’t just happen in high school and college. Finally between age 7 and 8 I had been introduced to the creamy- crack ( perm/relaxer) and it truly did become an addiction I dealt with for10 years. When I got my first relaxer it was amazing to have hair fall like a Hollywood actress. It was so long, straight, and silky. I had known about the hot comb getting the hair straight and waiting hours for it to heat up on the stove( and the occasional forehead burn), but the perm became my magical creamy life saver. From the point on, I had achieved the hair that my Barbie dolls had. But at what cost? I didn’t appreciate my natural God-given hair texture all because I wanted to have hair like auntie’s wigs.
Throughout the years I had gotten perms, but my hair was constantly fighting to be thick and free. I became obsessed with having straight hair like a weave and began to flat iron my hair more then necessary. Living in DC.MD.VA. where you see some of the most beautiful black women and men, you better be on top of your hair game. While most the girls around me would come to school with a weave, then a few weeks later have short hair…I’d just stick with my thick hair trying to straighten it, but it would never fall right. In 2007 I finally broke down and decided to try a weave. I didn’t want to pay that much money for it so I figured my mom’s friend could do it…long story short…not a good idea. The weave looked nice, but two weeks later all the tracks were so loose and I had crazy new growth. Aesthetically everything looked beautiful, but emotionally I couldn’t deal with the image I was portraying. The minute I had that long flowing hair, men couldn’t keep their hands off me. Guys at school that never gave me the time of day wanted to holla at me. I know men are visual but come on now, at least be slick about it and not so obvious. Last week you wouldn’t even pass me my paper, now you’re sitting next to me asking what I’m doing Friday night. Get out of here with that game!
The minute I took my weave out after only having it in 2 weeks, I decided to cut my hair and go natural. This began phase one of the BC (Big Chop), which later on I had to repeat again. I felt so free and felt like I was finally being my artsy wild self, I went to school the next day and everyone was shocked. I had negative and positive response, the guys didn’t like it and were vocal about it. I guess I’d have to get my papers myself next time in math class. I kept my hair natural for a while, but I broke down and began craving some creamy-crack. I had my mom pick me up a home relaxer from Rite-Aid and the cycle began again.
Shortly after, we ended up relocating from Maryland to Colorado and I wore my hair thick but still attempted to have a straight look. My hair was at its lowest point in Fall 2009, when I went off to school in Colorado Springs and experienced dorm life ( never again!) I became an habitual excessive heat abuser. My flat-iron was like that stuff animal you had when you’re a little girl, you can’t go anywhere without it! I noticed my hair began to fall out, but I pretended like I was oblivious to the damage taking place. It got to the point where I would wake up and see my hair on the pillow, and strands all over the floor just from shaking my hair gently…now that’s terrible! In november 2009 I cut my hair off and decided to just let it be natural. But I couldn’t get the addiction and desire for having straight hair like the women in music videos and pages of the magazines out my head. I stayed natural tell the end of January and then broke down, got a perm.
My mom kept warning me that it wasn’t bad to have a perm, but I needed to lay off the heat and find alternative styles. I wish I would have listened to my mom, but sadly I didn’t. I ended up going to the hair salon and get my hair styled in the image of Rihanna, but that didn’t last long. I hate paying 70 bucks for a hairstyle that only has a lifespan of a week, maybe two. I don’t like the feeling of not washing my hair for up to 2 weeks though…just not for me. So I tried to maintain the style, after I washed it I blow dried it and tried to straighten back to the original look.
On July 5th, 2010 I was laying in the bed watching some tv and had an epiphany. It was a major omg! moment, where I felt such an impulse to make a stand. I walked into the living room and told my mom ( I’m a college student and live with my parent’s, trying to save money in this tough economy! ) that I was sick of not being myself. I felt like I hadn’t been letting the outside reflect my personality. My personality has always been raw, bold, vibrant, and very funny, but my style and hair always read at this uptight person trying to maintain a pc( politically correct) image. Right then and there at that moment I told my mom how I felt and how I wanted to go back to my natural state, be patient, and let God does his work. She looked at me, and all she said was “I’ll grab the scissors!”.
Twenty minutes later, I emerged from the shower with adorable curly hair. I felt like I had finally conquered my battle with the image of having straight hair as being beautiful. I conquered my fear of being the true artist I was on the outside. I had finally stood face to face with the real Jasmine McGee and not a false advertisement. I’m not some high maintenance woman who want’s long flowing straight hair (nothing wrong with having straight hair though) but it’s just not for me. I love the wild natural curls, I love huge glasses and bohemian clothes. I love being an artistic sistah and I think every aspect from head to toe should express the essence of me.
No matter if you hair is straight, curly, nappy, weave, buzz cut, whatever your preference…do it because it’s what you love. Block out the haterz and be proud of what your working with. Mad love goes to all the sistahs out their from the dreads to the flawless weaves, no matter what your hair says…make sure it fits you and you work it!! As black women, hair is something we all have personal journey with. Some may have a twenty-minute journey and others may have 20 years of switching up styles until they find the one. Don’t be ashamed of your beautiful essence, simply put…be you and enjoy the laughter and tears along the way.
-Think Soul 25 aka Jazei