I am Pamela and I'm 19. I had long hair - like around day care age - I had very long hair. I remember for picture days - I still have the pictures at home, my hair was super long and so healthy. I really don’t know what happened. I mean it’s not even that I don’t know what happened. In the Dominican culture they have something called “mal de ojo” which is like the “evil eye.” So my mom was like - we went to a salon and she just didn’t understand what had happened to my hair. We went for a usual cut and after that my hair just didn’t grow in the same. She was like it has to be mal de ojo because how is it that your hair was so long and healthy!? I was like “I don’t know” but maybe it was me because - I’m bout to tell you how I used to f*ck up my hair *laughs* So, it used to be dumb stuff like if I didn’t like my hair a certain day I would cut it myself. I would just be like hmm well this piece can go. I’m sure it will grow back. And it would just not grow back. *laughs* and then my mom always used to wash my hair, like those are the memories I have of her when she would wash my hair. My mom is a very traditional Dominican woman. She usually did me and my sisters’ hair, so if we didn’t want to go to a salon we didn’t have to. She had everything in the house. So, like she would be washing my hair and she would realize that I had cut part of it off and she would be like “Pamela! You can’t do that!” I was like “Oh!” *laughs* Like, I just didn’t know what I was doing. So after that my hair just didn’t really grow in the same way as it did when I was younger. I cut it really short at one point. I would always try to have it really straight because the rest of my family would like it straight. Everybody else in my family had it straight. My family - my mom’s side of the family is Dominican and my dad’s side of the family is Cuban, so it’s a blend of the cultures. Everybody has straight hair. So I straightened it hair all the time, like “I have to do this” But it was just not really me. Not that I felt like I was forcing myself to fit in with my family but I felt like - why should I want to overextend myself - I’m having to spend so much money and do all of this for it to just be a waste because usually 3 days later I would just put it in a bun - I would just be so tired of it! So, that was my earlier hair experience. I used to perm my hair which was really bad for it. I used to be like “Oh my god - I can feel my scalp! That’s so cool!” I used to be mad hype for no reason. *laughs* But really it was burning my hair. It wasn’t really until one time my cousin permed her hair and I guess her mom left it in for too long so all her hair fell out. And I was just like “Nah, I cannot do this anymore.” Like that was the last straw. So, I stopped doing it but I didn’t stop getting blowouts and wash and sets and stuff. So, I kept doing that but the heat was also bad for my hair as well. It wasn’t until - I had been watching vlogs on Big Chops and stuff but like I’m just so scared like I’m a scared person - I don’t want to regret what I do. It just made me very uncomfortable - the fact that I wanted to cut my hair. And my hair was growing so I was like “Ooh, should I do this?” Like I go with the flow but I like to do things that are a habit. I don’t like doing like crazy, spontaneous things. I felt like “If I do this - this is gonna be big, you know?” So I was supposed to do it in January of 2018 to come into the New Year. But I was like “I want long hair for my birthday! So my birthday’s in April, so I was like ok, let me wait until the spring time.” So, my friends were just like “Do it, do it, do it!” because they all had natural hair. I didn’t cut my hair until the spring, I think like May of 2018. I was still a senior in high school. So, it’s been a year now since I’ve cut my hair. So basically one night, it was like 2AM and I was home and I was just going through a lot. There was a relationship I was getting out of and I still didn’t know where I was going to go to college. I had senior year projects. It was just like a whole thing. I was just losing my mind. So I went Britney Spears on myself *laughs* and I just started cutting my hair. I was on FaceTime with my best friend and we were just crying together. I was like “oh my god - I’m cutting my hair!” But she was like “I’m so happy for you, this was what you needed” I didn’t really know what she was talking about but having that support really helped because it was like - nobody really cared. My mom was just laughing at me like why would you do that? But now that my hair has grown, she loves it. And now that I’m able to do more things with it and she gets that it was actually really beneficial. So, the day after I cut my hair I remember I didn’t even go to school and my two best friends came to visit me because I was just like “I’m not doing good like I can’t go to school yet!” They came and they helped me layer it because I had just cut it with some kitchen scissors and I was emotional so I just wanted it gone. So they evened it out for me because they had natural hair and so they told me “you know you have to cut of this part because it’s really heat damaged” and I was like “okay, okay”. And after everything I had been doing I had so much heat damage I had to cut almost everything off so at first I just put like wraps on and because it was already May, senior year was pretty much wrapping up so I was really just putting it in scarves because it was the end of the year so I was like no one’s really going to notice. But it was just my friends that knew. Only two of them knew. I was keeping it to myself. And like people would crack jokes but I really didn’t care like I have really thick skin like I feel like I don’t know why I was scared for so long like I could have had longer hair and more growth by now if I had just done it sooner and figured how to take care of it and gotten into that habit instead of waiting for such a long time. Also, I felt like for my family as well - like we grow up in a culture of thinking we’re not black because we’re Hispanic and so they would crack jokes too and be like “You look so crazy. Why didn’t you leave it straight?” And I was like “mind your business! It’s what I want to go with my hair.” And my sister was already thinking of going natural and not putting as much heat in her hair and my cousin had already transitioned to natural and it was the same way that I even looked at her when she first went natural like “oh my god - why would you do that?” So after I felt like wow never speak on somebody else’s situation when you don’t know what you’re going to want to do in the future. I was like, now I see why you ended up doing that. I actually went to her to help me with what products I should use for my hair because we have the same texture so I would just bounce ideas off her and she would give me ideas. Also, going to school in Harlem, you see a lot of people embracing their natural hair and things like that. But you also see people getting weaves and braids and stuff. And I was both! I got braids and wigs and weave, just different things that I thought looked nice. And they all ended up looking nice. That was one way that I was able to express myself even after I cut my hair. So now, I still do other hairstyles that are cute but it’s just about protecting your hair. You know your hair is just as an investment as any part of your body. You want to make sure you look good - you feel good. So after I did that I was just really happy that I did it. Ever since I’ve just been trying to find things to go with the flow. I change it every now and then. I’ll put in braids or hair extensions, or I’ll put it a wig. That’s how I keep it fun. It’ll just be like hmm I feel like I’ve had my fro out for a long time. Or I’ll decide to have it out so I can take care of it and give it time to breathe. And I like to experiment with products in that time. I get inspiration from Instagram because they gather all of things you like. I put things in my saved file. I have a bunch of hairstyles I want to try in the future. And I find people who do hair through Instagram too. Usually when I change my hair it’s just because I feel like it or around something where I’m like I kinda wanna look really poppin! So let me just fit in a hairstyle for this outfit *laughs* It’s usually like that.