My journey with hair has been really interesting because I know that a lot of Black women will say, “when you’re younger everyone makes you think straight hair is beautiful. That’s what you need to aspire to have: long, straight hair.” But interestingly enough for me, my mother’s hair was always the definition of beautiful hair to me. My mother has always had very short, natural curly hair. I always used to look at her and be so jealous because I was constantly relaxing my hair and it was straight and that’s what people considered pretty but I would look at her and think “You look cute! I want to look like that!” But, I never really thought that was something I could pull off. For the longest time I felt that way, so I hid behind a lot of braids and weaves. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that —I like that too — but in the back of my mind I’ve always looked at my mom’s hair and been like “That’s my goal right there. I want my hair to look like that.” It really wasn’t until — freshman year of college that I did the Big Chop. As scary as it was, it was finally close to what my mother’s hair looked like and I loved it. Everyone in my household said “Your hair looks so good short!” I had never really seen my natural hair. I’m ashamed to say it but I’d leave my natural hair out for about two days at a time, maximum. I’m constantly going back to protective styles, because there’s this notion that natural hair is really hard to take care of and it’s a lot of work. So, I never really experimented with it because I heard that all the time on YouTube videos and from friends who had gone natural. I told myself “I don’t have the time for natural hair. I’m not going to invest that time and energy into it.” So, I never saw my natural hair. People would ask me: “What does your natural hair look like?” and I couldn’t even tell them because I literally just never saw it, even though I had done a Big Chop. So, fast forward to 2020, when I’m finally wearing it out! It’s honestly been really fun. Hair makes you feel like a new woman! I’ve been experimenting with twist-outs, with slicking my hair back and putting it in a ponytail. I absolutely love playing with my hair. It’s a lot of work but at the same time it’s work that I enjoy and I love the way it looks. I think this is probably the first time in a long time that I’ve allowed myself to embrace my natural hair. Believe it or not, I don’t even know if I’ve told my mom this but every time I video call her — because my mom lives in Ghana and I live here — every time she sees my hair and compliments it I don’t know if she understands how happy it makes me because her hair is my goals. So, it’s been exciting for her to see me embrace it because I think for years she’s been trying to tell me, you know, you should try it out! And I’ve always been a little scared so it’s been exciting to finally release it and have her compliment it and also just feel good with it. I think what inspired me was seeing other women who have chosen to embrace their natural hair as well. Because whether we realize it or not, the way beauty is portrayed in media has a *huge* impact on how a lot of people internalize beauty and ideas of what they “need” to look like in order to look beautiful. For me, just taking the time to look for influencers and people on social media who actually look like me — because I realized a lot of the people I was following didn’t actually look anything like me and I could not relate — doing that and curating my feed was very inspirational to me. It allowed me to hop on social media and see girls with their hair looking so good. And I’ll be like “wow I want to try that hairstyle at some point!” Also my friends trying different styles and transitioning their hair also got me pretty excited. That’s honestly been the biggest change for me is seeing more people embrace their hair and styling it and making me want to do the same thing. Playing with color is something I want to try. And then, when I’m feeling really bold, I want to shave my head just to see what it looks like. My mood really determines what hair I want at any given moment. I’m very open to experimenting with hair.