We caught up with Dichaba, a 25 year old teacher based in Brooklyn, about her hair story. She learned to love her natural hair from her mother and four aunts, but taught herself to care for her curls as a young woman. Read about her journey below.
I’m Dichaba and I’m 25 and I am a third grade teacher. I’m lucky in that my mom never put any pressure on me to do anything with my hair. She showed me how to take care of it. Every Sunday she would braid it and that style would last the week. So I had this idea that my hair was something to be taken care of but I didn’t feel like I had to change it. My mom is one of five girls and they all had natural hair. I remember thinking that they were beautiful role models for me. So it never occurred to me that I should do anything different. When I started to do it myself - around middle school - I realized that it wasn’t easy and I didn’t really have any conception of how to do it. Sometimes my mom would still braid it for me if I asked but otherwise I‘d just put it up in a puff. It would usually end up being sort of tangled and frizzy. I had no idea how to tame frizz or define my curls or anything. But I think that I had a healthy enough self-esteem that it didn’t bother me until I started high school. That’s when I started to feel self-conscious about it. My reaction wasn’t to put a relaxer in or straighten it. Instead I decided to cut it all off. So I had my “Big Chop” when I was 15. This was actually before the Big Chop was a movement and most people weren’t natural at that point. So I was maybe a bit of a vanguard *laughs* I remember it just felt amazing. It was the first time I had ever cut my hair. It was so light and easy to take care of. I would just wash and go in the most literal sense of “wash and go” and put some curl enhancer in it. That was when I started to care for my hair in a meaningful way that made me feel good. I kept it short pretty much through high school. I grew it out a bit in college and got braids for the first time. That was another kind of liberation. Then I cut it again because that feeling after a big cut is just amazing. By the time I was in college was when natural hair was becoming a thing so I learned a lot about what products were available. Braids have been a great protective style and a way to switch it up. I haven’t worn weave before. It's on my list. That’s one of the beautiful things about being a black woman - all the ways we can switch it up.