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  • Writer's pictureLauren

When hair isn't just hair

Walking into the beauty supply store was like walking into a new world. Surrounding me

there was any type of hair you could think of, curly wigs, straight wigs, afro wigs, twists, braids, and types of hair that I had never even seen before (like faux locs). It was the first time I had been in a beauty supply store. That was two months ago, I'm 18.

Growing up a lot of black girls are quickly introduced to the world of protective styles like weaves, twists, braids, and everything in between. But that was not the case for me. In my house growing up the only hair we wore was the hair that grew from out head. No extensions, no chemicals. My hair was constantly in braids and grew long and strong down my back. Seeing pictures now, I'm envious of my former self, but then I was envious of everyone else. One of my best friends had a relaxer, I was always curious about how she got her hair so straight and then going to my mom and asking if I could get one too. The answer was of course, no (Thanks mom, I'm actually grateful for that one). There were lots of reasons that the answer was no, on the one hand, relaxers and

perms can be damaging. On the other, my mother, who is half Korean (on her mother's side) didn't grow up getting braids and that type of thing. Another consequence, intentionally or not, it definitely allowed me to appreciate my own natural hair and the versatility of it. My lack of exposure, as well as being in school programs with mostly white people, really limited my knowledge of hair. Even to this day I still have so many questions about ways that people get their hair done (someone please show me how weaves are done because for the life of me I cannot understand it). It was too the point that a lot of the time I didn't even realize that people's hair wasn't their own. Big wigs of natural looking hair, long twists that went down to the waist, expertly coiled weaves, they all made me envious that my own hair didn't look like that. It is only now that I am realizing that a lot of times people's hair doesn't actually look like that and there was a

way that I could get mine to look how I wanted too.

I wanted thicker, longer, twists. I twisted my natural hair all the time, it was an easy style to do and I could keep it in for a little while without even worrying about. The only major drawback; they made me look like a little boy. I loved the ease and hated the way they made me look. So I looked for a solution, and what I found was marley twists. When I got to college, after watching a bunch of youtube videos and with the encouragement of my new, hair woke, friends, I went to the beauty supply store. I'm sure I annoyed my friends with all of my questions I had (What's a half wig? What is this hair for? What do people even do with this?) But after I looked around the whole store approximately three times, we got the marley hair and left to do the hard part.

I was determined to do my hair myself. After one traumatic experience, the only time I had payed someone to do my hair was when I needed a cut (and didn't feel like asking my mom). And besides, I'm a real do it yourself person (meaning it was expensive). Getting back to my dorm, I settled in with the necessarily supplies, and hours of MTV'S

Catfish for my viewing pleasure. I initially was going to do shoulder length twists, but after taking a quick poll, I went with long ones that fell down to almost my waist. Five hours later (a conservative estimate), I was done and when I looked in the mirror, in love.

I loved the way the twists came out. I loved the way they cascaded down my back, and moved around when I walked. I loved that I could flip them and swing them, and when I woke up, late for class, in the morning that I didn't have to do ANYTHING with them. A lot of people say that hair is just hair, especially when it comes to black women. But to me those twists meant so much more. They were the start of my college journey, just the first of many changes and they gave me confidence for what would come.

First picture by: Anthony Jones

Second picture by: Drew Boddie


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