I Hate My Natural Hair… But I Won’t Quit On It

You know the girls you see in the Ms. Jessie’s and Shea Moisture ads, the ones with big smiles as tons of bushy curls come falling down around their faces? Or how about the dark chocolate girl whose perfect white teeth beam up at you from the magazine ad as she rocks a thick kinky type 4 afro? Yea those girls… they are not me. My natural hair doesn’t make me smile or want to pose for pictures or even run my hands through it. On the daily I consider if I should just chop it all off and go bald. I’m one of those 4c hair texture girls; defined as tight kinky texture with a minimal curl pattern. Now what the real definition of 4c is: ” Oh you thought you were gonna get a comb through that? You wanted to use curl cream and denman brushes you say?….NOPE!”

Transitioning

20130801-104919.jpg

Invisible Extensions

Almost 4 years ago I stopped perming my hair and let me tell you it has given me hell every step of the way. I left it in twisted extensions for the first year, then cut off the permed ends and started to wear it out. I was so excited. I combed the natural hair blogs and watched hundreds of youtube tutorials, to help me decide what creams I would use for all these amazing styles I would be doing, it was like an awesome dream. For a while things were okay, my hair was still in that “in-between” phase so it held onto twist outs pretty well but I was still itching for some length! I figured if I gave my hair time to grow it would work out better for me. So I put in an invisible (tiny braided extensions) and I left my hair alone to grow.

Fast Forward

Whenever I would take out my invisible I was excited to see what kind of hair growth I had acquired. I attempted wash and gos and was horrified by the results. My hair in actuality was about 2 inches short of being shoulder length and when I washed it the shrinkage was horrible. I would attack my head with curlformers, denman brushes, afro picks, Shea Moisturizer, Ms. Jessies, Carol’s Daughter, I mean if you named it I promised you I tried it; many of these products at the recommendation of natural hair dressers I visited and consulted. No matter what I did my hair would shrink up into a dry not so fluffy little afro. It made me miserable. I would literally sit in the mirror, stare at my hair, and cry. I had heard that it was a little rougher for type 4 textures, but I felt helpless, I just wanted to hide all my hair.

Twist Out On Blown Out Hair

Twist Out On Blown Out Hair

A Little Heat Lightning 

I decided that maybe if I stretched my hair a little bit it would cooperate with me and boy was I right. I got my hair professionally blown out and then went home and did a twist out on it. It was the most beautiful result I had ever seen and for the short time that I wore it I was absolutely ecstatic about my hair. I snapped photos everyday and made excuses to go out just so I could walk around with it. But as soon as I wet my hair again it reverted to it’s awful, annoying state. I was depressed again and back under an invisible it went.

My Sad Revelation

This summer I wore some Senegalese twists and when i took them out I went to get my hair blown out once more, I did a beautiful twist out and the very next day the heat and humidity destroyed it. By 5 pm my hair had no shape it was just a tangled mess on on my head. I was back to square one, because clearly the summer wasn’t going to allow me my heat straightened freedom. I’ve pretty much given up on my hair for the moment. Even though I have friends with type 4 hair texture none of them seem to have hair that’s anywhere similar to mine and I feel deeply alone in this struggle. I wash my hair and attempt to pick it out with my black power fist afro pick and it just sits there. I still look in the mirror and want to cry but when I walk out the door I hold my head up high and act as if my hair looks amazing. I don’t even have recent pictures of my hair to post because I have essentially refused to be photographed. I have hair envy for other naturals, especially the one’s with big fluffy fros’ but aside from all of that I have alot of self-hair hate. Since my natural hair causes me so much trouble the smartest thing to do would just be to give up on being natural but something in me refuses to allow it. I don’t want to go back to being a slave to my perm just like I don’t want to be a slave to my blow dryer.

Picked Out Afro

Picked Out Afro

Honestly right now I’m just biding my time, covering my hair in pretty scarves, until I can put in my next invisible. But I write this post for all of my other natural hair girls who feel just as miserable and hopeless as I do. I refuse to give up, no matter how much trouble and stress my hair gives me. I cannot change my hair texture, it’s mine and that was the point of being natural, to embrace who I was. It’s not about the fad its about being free from a bond to a conformist habit. Even though I want to stop trying, I know I won’t. I think I’m secretly hoping that one day when it comes out of an invisible it will spring into a huge fluffy fro and my problems will be solved. I know it won’t happen, but a girl can dream and the point is that you should too. I hate my natural hair and I’m okay with that, I just have to keep trying.

23 Comments on I Hate My Natural Hair… But I Won’t Quit On It

  1. LN
    August 1, 2013 at 9:32 am (4 years ago)

    Hello Ariel,

    My name is Leila. I’m the editor of Black Girl with Long Hair (http://blackgirllonghair.com). This is a great, honest reflection and I’d love to post it on our site with links back to your blog. Let me know if that’s okay. Also, there are broken images where the last two pictures should be. Can you send me those so we can include them? Email me at blackgirllonghair@gmail.com.

    Best,
    Leila

    Reply
  2. sandy
    August 1, 2013 at 4:46 pm (4 years ago)

    I am so glad you wrote this and allowed BGLH to post it as well. I am a 4a and my curls are beautiful. But after a year of being natural and experiencing wonderful growth, my hair day-to-day looks exactly the same length it did a year ago. Every day is TWA day. I once tried to do a twist-out on an old wash-and-go; withing an hour, it looked exactly the same as the day before. But like you, I am not giving up.

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      August 3, 2013 at 8:58 pm (4 years ago)

      I feel your struggle but I urge you to please stick with it until you did what works for you. Just remind yourself why you did this in the first place. I wish you all the best!

      Reply
  3. Lucky
    August 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm (4 years ago)

    Your hair is gorgeous though!

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      August 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm (4 years ago)

      Aww thank you! I’m working on really believing that when I tell myself such.

      Reply
      • Tsholofelo
        November 21, 2013 at 9:11 am (3 years ago)

        Hi Ariel I’m a South African natural hair freak and I’m experiencing exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve had two big chops already and trust me it breaks my heart to see so many naturals around me who have pretty hair. My relaxed hair used to be long and thick and just like you I was hoping that my natural hair would be exactly the same, but now I live on hope that maybe one day i will wake up and miraculously my hair will be big and puffy.

        I was planning on giving up and going back to relaxing my hair but after your story I know that I will hold on and remember why I decided to be natural in the first place. I’m proud of my hair and I will stop hiding it under extensions.
        :)

        Reply
        • Ariel Leconte
          January 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm (3 years ago)

          I’m really glad that my story helped you feel like you want to give it another shot, that was the purpose of me documenting my pain. Since I wrote the article I have totally turned around my hair care practices and actually adopted a lot of concepts from the blogger Jouelzy (give her a Google), anyways if you’re feeling it then you should give your hair your all. I think it is worth it if you really feel dedicated to it. One day you’ll wake up and just be deeply in love with what’s on your head, whether it’s in it’s natural state or worn some other way, just embrace what makes you happy. Hair affects happiness, sorry I don’t care if other people say otherwise, do not let your hair make you miserable! Take control and live your life girl!

          Reply
  4. Don't dismiss your God-given gift!
    August 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm (4 years ago)

    Let me start off by telling you how proud of you I am that you have come this far.
    But I’m afraid that you can’t see the obvious. The problem is not your hair it’s your mind. I know because I went through this also. When we try to make our hair do something that our hair doesn’t want to do, it’s not our hair’s fault, it’s our own. We end up waring with our hair and our hair always wins. It wins because it’s doing what it’s supposed to do and we are not. When we let our hair do what it’s made to do, both you and your hair will be happy.

    I heard an actress say once “my hair is the boss, I never tell it what to do, I work for him not the other way around”
    I laughed cuz tha tis the million dollar answer! She saw what I have learned.

    Your hair is beautiful! Your best picture is the piked out afro. Do you know that 4c hair is Thee best hair on earth! The joke is on black folk cuz they don’t see the obvious.

    Jesus had hair like wool, not hair like a dog.

    Have you seen wool?

    http://gfwsheep.com/catpage/alice.w.jpeg

    See the ribbon? This is the best. Your hair is rare for a reason, it’s the finest hun. I have 3c hair and I dream of having 4c hair because I know the truth that few blacks know. Pray to God and ask Him to show you how to appreciate your awesome gift. Also pray for forgiveness that you don’t see the beauty in your God given gift-PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!

    And don’t tell me that ” it’s harder to do than other hair”. SO!
    It’s harder to build a mansion than a card board box honey. It’s harder to work for gold than dig for rocks. Lol

    P.s. Your hair is too great for Combs, it’s not made for your hair. You have to gently finger detangle and finger part. You need to use homemade grease, heavy butters, mild shampoo. Don’t use the wrong things. Even with wool, wool likes lanolin which is sheep fat. Treat your hair like wool. Mild cleaner, no heat air dry, bit of grease/oil. Easy peasy. Let me know if you have more questions.

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      August 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm (4 years ago)

      I think this is one of the best analogies / explanations I have ever heard and I need to thank you for that. I’m working on adopting an attitude that is closer to your mindset and statements like that provide a great fuel. Thank you!

      Reply
  5. Tasha
    August 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm (4 years ago)

    I so can agree with you about your hair. Mine is the exact same way but I refuse to give up as well! Your story let me know I am not alone in my struggle.

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      August 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm (4 years ago)

      I’m really glad that it could help because in all honesty that was my purpose, I just want other naturals who feel stressed to remember why they personally decided to do this and allow it to fuel their perseverance to stick with it!

      Reply
  6. Anne-So
    August 3, 2013 at 5:42 am (4 years ago)

    Hello.
    I wanted to comment here because believe me we are in the exact same situation. I have 4C hair, and no you are not alone. I’m glad that someone speaks about this.
    Perhap’s the difference between you and I is that I’ve relaxed them only twice in my life and for the rest of my life until one year ago I mostly wore box braids etc but never totally natural. Box braids on the long run weaken my hair (definitely not as much as a relaxer : I’ve lost half my hair 6 or 7 years ago because of it).

    Anyway, yes about the struggling part. How many times did I cry, how many times did I feel depressed about my hair. It’s so closely linked to feminity, and when the female role models with our type of haire don’t exist, it is so hard to believe in our hair.

    I said there is a difference between you and I because of how long I’ve had my hair not-relaxed because for example, I instinctively know that Wash & Go’s don’t work for my type of hair, it really won’t. But like you, I tried a few hairstyles that many natural hair girls with loose curls do and it doesn’t work.

    Now let’s try to find explanations and solutions for our struggle together.

    1) Why do we hate our hair?

    a) Role models
    As I already said, we do not have many role models ESP around us with our type of hair that are proud of it. The more kinky is the hair, the more poeple tend to relax it. My mother, my aunts, my friends do not wear natural hair. Fortunately I had a mother who tried, although she doesn’t know much about natural hair as she started relaxing it a very long time ago, to make me appreciate my hair, and to learn how to take care of it although no one would teach me how to do. It didn’t prevent me from hating my hair, self-hating as well because of course I used to compare myself to all the little white girl’s hair that were straight. As I said, the role models are so few, that a single woman’s influence definitely can’t fight with the big society that opresses us : Yes I said it because all this hate definitely results from opression.
    Yes, we feel lost in our struggle, lonely as many poeple can’t help us.

    b) The texture
    Here is something that can actually evolve : appreciating your texture of hair. With this whole natural hair movement, I have difficulty to identify myself because the most famous hair bloggers and even on BGLH, most of the beautiful hair that are introduced to us are loose curls or a pattern to which it is easier to form curls. The thing is, when you stopped comparing yourself to white little girls, you start comparing yourself to mixed afro hair with loose curl patterns.
    Let me reveal you something that needs to change in your (and I)’s mindset : Our Hair Are Not Made For Curls. I reapeat : Our Hair Are Not Made For Curls. The blogger Cipriana on youtube explains it very well when she talks about her hair : she stopped trying to copy curls’ patterns when she understood it. We need to stop looking for it and find beauty in hair that doesn’t need curl.
    You talked about how you wished you had such and such afro. If you have the same hair type than mine, you would perhap’s notice that our hair are damaged with afro styles. Afro styles were popularized in the 70’s, but were never natural styles for afro hair especially 4C type. To me, afro really isn’t for me mosturized or not. It tangles my hair like crazy, and I lose so much hair because of it.
    Now, I think it’s time for you and I to look closely to our texture, our natural texture. Notice how pretty it can be when mosturized. If you try without comparing yourself to others, I think you can appreciate it.

    1. What to do to satisfy us?

    a) Change our mindset
    We need more knowledge about what we can do and can not do with our hair, what are the possibilities that can satisfy us and I think we need to stop trying to make our hairstyles look like straight or curly hairstyles… because it doesn’t work on our hair. And that’s the most difficult as I see that having your natural texture and accept it is something that is still rarely done among the natural hair community on the internet in my opinion, except when the girls have natural curls. The products that are sold like “Get curls with our curly gel!” prove it. And it’s esp difficult for our type of hair that won’t work with it. Why does it work with everyone except me? We need to change completely our mindset about our hair. We need to adapt to our hair not let the rest control how it should and shouldn’t be even if this control is not explicit.

    c) Which hair style for our hair?
    That’s the biggest question. I wish there had a blog like BGLH but only for our type of hair. I have so much struggle finding how to style my hair and maintain my length AND satisfy me. Here are a few things that I learned :
    – Afro-puff or afro style, curls-copying (?), wash and Go’s are not for my hair.
    – Something extremely important : Water + our hair = Love/hate relationship. Basically water makes our hair shrink as HELL because it’s just how it works. It tangles them. Leave out conditionner WON’T work because as soon as our hair touches water nothing you put in and rinse out will work in my experience. All the bloggers advising to wet your hair before styling it (esp if it is completely wet) really are not doing it for our type of hair. Well-nourished hair + dried hair = good to show length. Moisturized hair + a lil bit wet = good for protective styling.
    – Protective styling is what works the best, really. Especially the smaller is the braid/etc the better it is. It has to be protective styled from the roots to the ends for our type of hair. It lets my hair grow without needing to take care of it with water (very important!) and makes us manipulate it less than with any other styles which maintains length.

    But here is the problem : how can we accept that protective styling is probably the best choice for our hair? To me it’s limited,and most of the time I dislike most protective styles that are introduced on the internet. I can’t appreciate the texture for my hair and the worst : I can’t appreciate its length. This is where I’m totally trapped. Nowadays what annoys me the most is that when I do braids with my natural hair it looks dried and doesn’t show my length the way I would love them to. I end up trying to hide them. I find it really ugly. So yesterday for the first time I blow dried my hair before doing my braids and I prefer them like that. Although it also frogets to show me some kind of volume if you see what I mean. Now the fear of being addicted to blow dryers like you explained also haunts me. I feel like I can’t escape it if I want to be satisfied with my hair.
    My goal is to make more and more protective styles until I am satisfied with my hair’s length and health (which for me is the most difficult thing to maintain) and then alternate between non-protective styling (without copying any curls nor doing afro, just doing a few braids and styling them prettily) and protective styles.
    My dream is to have long natural braids that work the way box braids work. But I fear I won’t reach this goal so I feel trapped again. That’s why I wished there was a site only for for example… Protextive styles and 4C hair types because i don’t find things to help with our struggle on the internet, only girls whose hair make me jealous.

    Thanks for posting your sincere thoughts as we are definitely not alone now.

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      August 3, 2013 at 8:40 pm (4 years ago)

      First off let me just say thanks so much for you’re really detailed and thoughtful comment. Like I said I completely wrote this article not to complain but to hopefully inspire others with the same issue to remember why they made this decision. There are a million factors affecting the way that we perceive our hair in the 4 category & it’s hard to avoid a societally influenced concept of beauty regardless of race. I think you really put out some great suggestions that I hope people will read and maybe take into account when working on self-perception & happiness.

      Reply
  7. shan
    August 6, 2013 at 10:22 am (4 years ago)

    wow! did I write this? yes, in other words your journey mimics mine. i have been natural (chopped off the 2 inches of permed hair 1 year and 3 months ago). in the very beginning i liked my nice natural afro AND even tooks pics that i proudly shared with friends. since then, i’ve rocked a 2 curly weaves and this is my 2nd round of senegalese twists (which i love). i dread having to take these down and deal with my own hair… i want to LOVE my hair!!!

    Reply
  8. drsmiley
    August 17, 2013 at 11:40 pm (3 years ago)

    Your frustrations are understood, however, having hair be the determining factor of happiness is not only absurd, but vain and out of touch with the realities of the world. There are far many more issues to stress on and put out there in the universe…especially important issues that are affecting the black community locally and globally such as poverty, AIDS/HIV, racism, child labor, education, family structure, raising future leaders, and other important black issues. This natural hair movement-despite its supposed intentions- is a monster in creation! It is ironically doing the same thing as the weave issue- putting ppl in categories based on their hair, lame acronyms/terminology, judgmental views on hair, overly sentimental dates/ days to remember since the “big chop”, vanity, hair worshiping, etc.. Before you start again with the complaining, remember there are ppl out there with serious issues (health, financial, personal, etc.), in addition to our black counterparts all around the world. If you don’t like the way your hair is, do something about it and keep it pushing. We as black ppl need to be taken more seriously and deal with more important issues that help us progress in the future. Look at the issues of ppl around you and thank God for your life. This so called hair movement is really annoying. Never have I appreciated India Arie’s song “I Am Not My Hair” any more than now. Yes indeed, the whole weave/wig world as indirectly and direct sent messages of what is socially loved, however, it truly depends on the person inside…how they are…what they are doing for the advancement of people, etc.. Please get out of this self loathing state and out of this ironic categorization. There are more important issues on the black agenda. Perhaps my views go against the whole basis of this website, however, I just had to express myself and hopefully reach out to the sisters and brothers out there. Peace

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      January 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm (3 years ago)

      While I wholeheartedly agree with you on the fact that there are more important issues in the world than what’s going on with the hair on my head, I do know that it is an issue that affects people whether we like it or not, and that’s why I chose to write the article. Self-image is a big determining factor for a lot of issues in the world so when we start there we can start recognizing all the other issues in the big picture. I do agree that sometimes the natural hair movement can become a little obsessive in nature and has the potential to pit opinions and practices against each other but at the end of the day isn’t that just human nature? Whether we’re talking about our own hair or a wig, it’s going to be a debate, there’s going to be concerns and criticism and it’s because that’s how life works, like it or not. I think conversations about hair have their place and I felt like I was in a place to have a conversation, but trust me every day of the week I’m having a conversation about redefining the image of Black society on a social scale. Preservation and proper representation is everything to me. I really appreciate your thoughts though and I’m glad you felt comfortable sharing them here.

      Reply
  9. t.hilla
    August 18, 2013 at 2:19 am (3 years ago)

    hi, here’s a 4c girl who you might like. I’m 4a so i don’t know your frustrations but i hope this helps. http://youtu.be/zngrlEQG3EM

    Reply
  10. Janine Michelle D
    December 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm (3 years ago)

    I am so glad you wrote this. I feel the same way as you do. I have hair envy as well and like you my 4c hair doesn’t respond unless I use heat. Its not curly and soft its like lambs wool and I can’t do much with it. I was in to wigs weaves faux ponytails falls everything to hide it. Now I’m about to retouch my relaxed hair. Having it relaxed was the only way I could manage it and have the most versatility. I now have redefined natural for myself…Natural to me is my own hair. No more weaves or extensions. Define natural for yourself and don’t fell pressured to wear your hair in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. And to all those ladies with the coils and waves who say to me “You have to accept yourself”or “embrace what God has given you” and blah blah blah…you have no idea what its like to have a brillo pad for hair…its just not for me. My relaxed hair is. I am no slave or conformist. Just me doing what I am comfortable with.

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      January 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm (3 years ago)

      So first off.. claps to you! I don’t think you should ever let anyone define something for you, and if relaxed hair is what works for you then more power to you. My mom watches me wrestle with my natural hair and she often tells me, it’s just not for her, she can manage her relaxed hair and I have no qualms about that. People who criticize women who say natural hair is not for them, don’t seem to take into account that sometimes it’s not just about the look, this stuff is a lot of work! Whether we like it or not, our hair has a big emotional impact on us and we need to do whatever makes us happy. I’ve found new ways to manage and enjoy my hair that don’t require heat or chemicals, but girl, that is just me. You do you and be happy, I’m happy for you!

      Reply
  11. kat
    December 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve never typed my hair but i’d probably assume its in the 4’s somewhere. In your post, you mention that the majority of the issues you have with your hair revolve around shrinkage, particularly after washing your hair. What i usually do to combat this is, before washing, I section off my hair, comb from ends to root (sort of like a dry shampooing), seal with one oil with a bit of extra on the ends, single twist and then pin down the hair. after i finish all sections, i then take then out (hair is fully combed/detangled) and I was the hair. the hair being lubricated with the oil helps as far as detangling and shrinkage. After washing my hair (depending on whether or not conditioning or air drying is the next route, i will say air drying for this example) I will once again take the hair, comb in the pattern I mentioned before, and pin the hair to air dry.
    It sounds like your washing your hair with no lubrication or initial detangle and then not fixing your hair into a pattern than when it does dry the shrinkage isnt soo bad. More shrinkage = more room for untangling which leads to more hair loss. Consider trying my method out to see if it works for you, It works for me every time.

    In case your wondering, i’m a natural haired 22 y.o. non college student who’s considering starting a blog myself. My hair ranges from 3 to 6 inches at different points on my head (so the hair is short, cut split ends off). Another thing I want to mention is to drastically reduce your blow dryer usage. It was using the blow dryer to dry my hair that caused issues for me.
    Sorry if the comment is too long, I was looking to see if you had a email I could send it to but I guess this is fine. Keep up the good work :)

    Reply
    • Ariel Leconte
      January 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm (3 years ago)

      I always welcome feedback from a fellow natural and I’ll definitely take your regimen into consideration. I’ve adapted a bit of Jouelzy the blogger’s habits and styling tips and they have really turned things around for me. I’m always cheering on another blogger, so go start yours! You can always click on my portfolio site in my about me for contact info if you
      would like to chat more! Best of luck! :)

      Reply

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