Black hair is in, no matter what they say
I'm going to cut right to the chase. If you are a person of color with textured hair, then you probably are no stranger to the prejudice surrounding it. Society has an idea of what is considered 'appropriate' for hair - which is straight and long. And that idea can come from family/friends, corporations and the media. The media is constantly pushing this idea in front of us. We are seeing black women in commercials and movies and on billboards wearing wigs and extensions. It is not always common to see a black woman wearing her natural, textured hair on TV. However, I will say that I am seeing it more.
Now, I am not saying that wearing wigs and extensions is completely wrong - because I have worn them myself. But it becomes a problem when we are hiding our natural hair because we do not feel secure enough to wear it out as part of our appearance. That was me, and I am going to tell you my story.
My insecurities controlled me
I am biracial. My mother is white and my father is black. I grew up in a small, white town without the presence of the black side of my family, including my father. I did not grow up knowing how to care for my hair, the nearby salons did not know how to style it, nor did we know anyone that could teach us how to style it. I grew up hating my hair and it really controlled the way I viewed myself well into my adulthood...
My mom reached her wits end when I was at a young age and had my hair chopped off to about an inch long around age 5. I was mortified and I remember crying for days. I just could not understand why my mother would let something so terrible like that happen to my hair. I felt like a boy and I even remember walking into Walmart one day and the greeter said to my mom, "What a beautiful little boy you have!" I continued to cry for days.
I grew up along side the white girls at school who had the long, straight hair. They would play with each other's hair and brush through it at recess, while they would tease me for my hair which was dry and would stand straight up if they messed with it. I would give fake smiles and laughs to hide my embarrassment, sadness and frustration that I had surrounding my hair. And I would think to myself often as a young girl, 'why did the universe give me such crappy hair? Why was I not lucky like these girls?' And it did not help when you were told things like, "You just have bad hair."
By the time I was 8, we were chemically relaxing my hair religiously every 6-8 weeks. My mother did it at home and I will never forget the feeling of the burning at the nape of my neck. But I loved how it made my hair straight and I finally felt like I was fitting in. But I did not feel like this all the time. When I started cheerleading in middle school, our coaches wanted to see us wearing our hair in ponytails with the bow at the base. I had to buy a ponytail extension because our coaches wanted us all to look similar. I liked wearing it because it made me feel good about my appearance! My ponytail was long and straight and it flowed when I moved my head in different directions.
When I reached high school, I was still relaxing my hair but it was around this time in the 9th grade that my hair was extremely thin and brittle. The chemical relaxers from all those years completely damaged my hair. It had no volume and when it was soaking wet, it was straight with some wave to it, but it was mostly straight. We found a salon about an hour away from where we lived that my mom took me to so that I could get a weave sewn in. And after my first install, I was HOOKED. I remember feeling BEAUTIFUL instantly and like never before. Having the long, straight hair that I had seen so many girls have was a game changer for my self-esteem. Funny enough, the boys started giving me more attention it seemed. The one male classmate that used to bully me for my skin tone (which is another story for another time) and my hair, suddenly thought I was 'hot'. I was finally feeling good about myself and I was fitting in with the other girls. I continued to wear weaves all throughout high school, and when I got to college, I started wearing clip-ins. But with clip-ins, I had to straighten my hair daily to make them looks seamless.
Wait...I have CURLS????
I moved to Cincinnati in 2018, which is a far more diverse city than the previous cities I have lived in. I started a new job and I met a wonderful co-worker who was also black (who is now my best friend). She wore her hair natural and her curls were poppin'. It was beautiful to see and foreign for me at the same time. Shortly after being exposed to this, I gained the inspiration and confidence I needed to finally try to wear my hair natural.
My hair was so damaged and still straight when wet. It was very short and barely went past the bottom of my ears in most spots. I started researching how to care for textured hair and just like that, I started my transitioning journey. I haven't been to a salon since I was getting sew-ins, so this journey was all me and I was more than ready to take it on. I researched porosity and based my hair care regimen off that. I started to make DIY hot oil treatments that I would apply to my hair twice a week with a heating cap. I was doing DIY protein treatments. I was adopting new habits like lightly drying my hair after my showers with a t-shirt instead of a towel. I started doing the greenhouse method at night, the LOC method for my wash 'n go's and I also stopped straightening and blow drying my hair completely. There were times when I would straighten it to see how much it grew, but I stayed away from heat almost completely.
That's me and it has been 3 years and counting since I started my natural hair care journey and WOW. WHAT A DIFFERENCE. I honestly never thought I could have curls. But they started showing up the following year in 2019 and even more so in 2020 and 2021! Now, I have a head full of curls and coils and I am obsessed with my textured hair! I love to show it off because not only did I put in a lot of time and effort to nurse it back to health, but I find it absolutely BEAUTIFUL. And I am so emotional writing this because it is true. I look back and I feel such sadness when I sit and remember all the hardships I had with my hair growing up and I have deep regret for how I treated my hair. But I just did not know better and I am at peace with it now.
THE START OF A NEW JOURNEY - LONDON'S HAIR FOOD
Now, I have always wanted to run a business. It has been a lifetime goal of mine, since I was around 7 years old. It was around this time that I remember sewing pillows together after my grandma taught me how to sew. And I would sell them at the end of her driveway for $1. And NO ONE was getting a discount. It was funny. But fast forward-- over the years I had ideas but they never really 'stuck' to me. Once I started seeing my hair come back to life and I finally felt secure enough to wear it, the light bulb went off - and London's Hair Food was born.
London's Hair Food is a handcrafted hair care line that I launched last year in 2021. I use ingredients that I trust and believe in because they have helped transform my own hair. London's Hair Food is named after my 2-year old daughter, London, who I hope never doubts the beauty of her textured hair. And our company mission is to 'embrace the beauty of textured hair with ingredients tresses love and make you feel like royalty'.
I hope to empower other black women who may be experiencing something similar to what I went through. I wish someone would have just said to me 'Ciera, your natural hair is beautiful' much sooner. It would have saved me so much heartache and doubt as a child, into adulthood. It is painful to constantly think that your hair is not 'good enough'. It can and will eat away at your self-esteem. And I can't wait for the times when we are seeing more textured hair on TV and when it is a widely accepted style that is not banned from certain workplaces. Like I mentioned previously, I am not talking down on the women who don't wear their hair natural. It is their choice to make and they still look beautiful! I just feel that it's a problem when we do it because of a deep insecurity and that is the point I want to get across.
Remember: black hair is in, no matter what they say.