Last month, I created a painting named Brown Skin Girl as an ode to my childhood. The artwork depicts a little Black girl with two Afro puffs. Written on her face are the lyrics to Beyoncé’s song, Brown Skin Girl. In this blog post, I’ll allow you to follow along as I create this piece. As we go, I’ll share my personal story about coming of age with natural hair.
“It’s not nappy, it’s natural!”
I cannot count the number of times I had to say this to my friends growing up. I was the only Black girl in my class who wore my hair in its natural texture. My peers wondered why my hair was so tightly coiled and why I wore it natural. The answer to both questions: God made me this way.
Only in recent years have Black women and girls embraced their natural hair texture by “going natural”. Traditionally, Black girls would have their natural hair relaxed or heat straightened upon entering elementary school. The purpose was to assimilate into european beauty standards. White supremacy has misled Black people to believe that their natural hair is not attractive. The desire for straight hair transcends beauty. Black women were, and still are, blocked from career and educational opportunities seemingly because of their natural hair. Employers and powers-to-be claim that natural hair is unprofessional. In reality, they’re being racist.
My parents never straightened me or my sisters’ hair. They taught us to love ourselves just as God created us. If God didn’t want me to have tightly coiled hair, He would not have created me that way. I was teased in school for wearing my natural hair. Children, in their ignorance, asked me if I were poor and claimed that I didn’t know what a comb was. Yet, I knew my hair was beautiful and crafted by God Himself. I confidently sported my hair in “pom poms” and “twisties” to school everyday. These were the creative names my mom gave the hairstyles that are now known to the natural hair community as Afro puffs and two-strand twists.
It wasn’t until I went to high school that I saw more Black girls wear their natural hair. Once I made it to college, the natural hair movement took off. I was happy that Black people were accepting the beauty of their natural hair. I was even more excited to offer my wisdom and knowledge on how to take care of Black hair. I started a natural hair group at my college. We would discuss everything from hair growth tips to the politics of Black hair.
I’ve been bullied and possibly discriminated against because of my hair texture. However, my hair has not kept me from any God-given opportunity. I love my natural hair. My hope is that one day all Black women and girls will too!
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Take 15 minutes today to read, write down, and meditate on this scripture: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” – Psalm 139:23-24, TLB