My type 4 natural hair journey

How my natural hair journey has helped to define me

To my knowledge, my hair was “poofy”. That’s the only way I knew how to describe it. It was rough and stuck straight up. Elementary school is when I first noticed that my hair was different from everyone else’s. Even the other black girls (there were only one or two others), I later realized had relaxers. I felt like such an outcast. My type 4 natural hair journey is an interesting one but it’s helped define who I am today. 

If you ask anyone to describe me, they would probably start with my natural hair. My hair has become so much a part of my physical identity, it’s crazy to think that I used to desire a different look. 

Like most black girls, when I was young, I begged my mom for a relaxer. I wanted a relaxer so my hair would be long, straight and flowy like the girls in my predominantly white school. I wanted to run my fingers through my hair and have my hair hanging down my back. I thought, if only my hair looked like the white girls in class, I could be beautiful too.

Growing up, my mom styled my hair in puffs, cornrows, ponytails, and braids. Every morning she would comb and style my hair while I ate breakfast. This was up until 7th grade, when I was finally allowed to get a relaxer!

I was so excited! Finally, I was going to “fit in” better at school. Nothing and no one could have prepared me for the experience of getting a relaxer. The BURN!!!! No one prepares you for the stinging burn of the creamy crack. Why have women put themselves through this kind of pain for decades? How could they put their young daughters through this pain? For what? To blend into white standards of beauty?… well that’s exactly why they do it. That’s why I did it.

And I thought I was cute!! My little straight ponytail was flipping and flopping… but my hair still wasn’t growing long down my back. When I look back at pictures from middle school and high school, my hair was so damaged! It was broken off at the ends and see-through. (I now know how terrible relaxers are for not only your hair but for your health.)

So I continued with this false image of beauty until my sophomore year of college. College is really your years of self-discovery. What I discovered in November of 2013 was little waves at the root of my hair. I was stretching my relaxer until I went home for winter break, so my new growth was really starting to come in. At that moment, I realized I was 20 years old and had no idea what my real hair looked like or how to take care of it.

This is where my natural hair journey really began. I transitioned for 1½ years, following tutorials on YouTube while documenting my own journey on my channel LaToya Diana. My goal was really to transition for 2 years but if you’ve ever transitioned to natural hair, you know why I didn’t last that long.

I gathered my friends together and threw a big chop party with pizza and a pair of scissors. I was officially natural in May of 2015. So I’ve been embracing my kinky, curly, type 4 hair since then.

Now that I am a flourishing natural, I really enjoy sharing my experience and hair tips with others. Some days are easier than others. I’m not going to pretend to know everything about natural hair care or pretend that I don’t find myself comparing my hair and journey to others, especially on Instagram. I do have to remind myself that my hair is unique, fierce, and bold! It’s a constant journey, but that’s what makes it all so rewarding.

In this hair journey, I have gained more confidence and appreciation for exactly how God made me. I wouldn’t want to change my hair one bit! For anyone that is struggling to embrace their natural curls, just go for it! You’re going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

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