Kinky Hair

| April 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is a guest post by Jaimee McGruder. To submit a guest post to Culture Shock, see our ‘Write for Us’ page.


When I was a little girl, I used to spend time staring at my reflection in the mirror, imagining myself with long, flowing straight hair. I imagined swiping my hands through it and feeling it swish in a ponytail when I walked. Then I’d look at my thick kinky hair in the big braids on the side of my head and cry.

The first time I had my hair relaxed, which is when you put corrosive chemicals in your hair to straighten it, I sat in the beautician’s chair for five hours. She told me the phrase I’ve come to know too well: “Let me know when it starts to burn.” Being new to relaxers, it began to burn before she could get the “creamy crack” onto even half of my head. By the end of the ordeal, I had silky straight hair and a bruised and scabbed scalp. But even with chemical burns on my head, I loved my new look. I walked with pride, wanting everyone to see the new me. I finally had “good hair.”

Of course a relaxer doesn’t not change the way your hair grows out. I had gotten a new hair stylist, one who was more experienced with relaxers, and began getting my hair done every three months. Around the second month after each appointment, I’d end up wearing my hair in buns and ponytails because my roots would cause my hair to puff out. I hated going out and would cry that I didn’t have hair like my sister, with her wavy hair and straight roots. I felt ugly and worthless. My entire life revolved around my hair and how beautiful or ugly it made me.

This feeling lasted until about January of this year. I remember during FYSOP when a fellow volunteer told me how glad she was that her mother had never let her relax her hair and how I could go natural. I listened to her thinking, “Are you kidding me? Why would I want to wear natural hair?” The idea was absolutely ridiculous to me. Why wear my ugly, kinky hair?

Over the course of the semester, however, I saw plenty of beautiful women at BU wearing their curls. I became curious and began really looking inward. I wondered why we see so few famous black women with their curly hair. I began doing research, finding articles about the many people who have been fired, suspended, or otherwise discriminated against for wearing their hair the way it grows from their head. I found YouTubers dedicated to educating those on their own natural hair journeys and websites like CurlyNikki with people telling their stories.

But you can also love the hair you've got.

But you can also love the hair you’ve got.

Although I had planned on cutting my hair into a pixie over the Winter break and then letting it grow as it wanted, I let my stylist talk me out of it. By now, however, I am resolute. After realizing the irony of buying a curling wand to curl my chemically straightened curly hair, I decided that I was tired of it.

I have about two months of new growth now and this is the first time in my entire life I’ve ever been happy about it. I’m in awe of my own hair, feeling the way it just curls on its own. I’ve realized all hair is “good hair” no matter the texture. Black hair is amazing, and this summer I’m saying goodbye to relaxed hair.


Jaimee McGruder is a Boston University COM student majoring in Journalism. She is from Southwest Louisiana and enjoys video games, nonfiction, travel, and discussing racism, feminism, and other social issues.

Featured Photo Credit: Aaron Webb via photopin cc

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Category: featured, Philosophy and Religion, Social Activism

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