Thursday, September 5, 2013

I Am the Darker Sister with Natural Hair

By Briana Whiteside

Those who knew me when I had relaxed hair knew that I was attached to it. It was my glory, my pride, the one thing on my body that I knew was beautiful. After I cut my hair, May 17, 2013, I felt somewhat less than. I hadn’t realized how much I had bought into western ideas on beauty.

I am the darkest person on my father’s side of the family. And, because of my darkness, I always felt out of place, or isolated from my high yellow, family members. As a result, I withdrew; I purposely stayed away from those family functions, because self-consciously I felt that my darker skin, and my type of hair texture were undesirable.

These thoughts secretly haunted me through high school and college because the lighter women with longer and straighter hair were considered beautiful. I needed to break free from those insecure thoughts, and the only option was to part ways with my crutch—my hair.

I’ve written various blogs about my natural hair journey, and documented the overwhelming feelings that have surfaced throughout. However, the most notable thing that I have learned is how to accept being an African American woman, and embrace the beauty, the artistry and ingenuity even in the experience.

Cutting my hair and parting with false eyelashes meant exposing my insecurities, but doing so also prepared me to grow. In the moments of growth, I openly confided in my natural hair sisters Danielle and Cindy about outward exposure of my inner struggles. In retrospect, I never knew the importance of being connected to a community of women--other scholars, natural hair friends, and women mentors.

I had previously shied away from developing a sisterhood among other black women, but I am now excited about my new discoveries, and future possibilities of uniting with other positive black women. My natural hair journey made this new outlook possible.

Style and Knowledge

Briana Whiteside is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front. 

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