Why Embracing Your Natural Hair Texture in College is the Best

Going natural is a road best taken in college.

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Woman with an afro

I spent 18 years of my life coveting a hair texture that was not mine.

Growing up, I was inundated with fashion and beauty magazines that constantly promoted silky, flowing straight hair as the look du jour. Everywhere I looked, I saw women who looked like me and women who didn’t being praised and prized for their pin-straight locks.

Needless to say, I gradually began to loathe my own hair — a kinky, coily crown that was so unlike the beauty icons I looked up to.

{RELATED POST: My Natural Hair Experience in College (& How I Learned to Love My Natural Hair)}

I often struggled with my hair in high school, chasing after a look that was physically impossible to achieve with my hair texture. I had bad relaxer after bad relaxer, terrible weave after terrible weave, trying to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards that were being unconsciously forced upon me.

It took me a long time to start loving my hair as it grew out of my head, and a large part of this change took place in college. At Howard University, a historically Black university, I am surrounded by some of the most beautiful, intelligent, kinky-haired women in the country. Every day I have the privilege of seeing fearless women rebuke conventional beauty standards and they have inspired me to embrace my natural texture.

Having the opportunity to freely study my culture also contributed to my desire to go natural. For many minorities, university is really the first time they’ve been able to study the history of their people and familiar cultural concepts in an academic setting with respected scholars.

For me, learning about the effects of the African Diaspora on African American culture greatly influenced my desire to get closer to my roots. As I learned to love my curls, I was also learning about the struggles of my ancestors to preserve their culture. I felt as if wearing my hair in a TWA (teeny weeny Afro) was the least I could do to honor them.

Of course, the accepting atmosphere of a college setting makes the experimental aspect of going natural all the easier. If it wasn’t for the open minded nature of my peers and my professors, I would have never made it through my natural hair missteps (hello bald, blonde head of winter 2014 and shoddy lace front wigs of spring 2015).

All in all, going natural is a phenomenally rewarding experience and going natural in college makes it even more worthwhile. It’s allowed me to embrace who I am and learn more about my own history.

Thoughts?

What are some of your experiences embracing your culture at college? Do you have natural hair? What made you decide to go natural? Let us know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Why Embracing Your Natural Hair Texture in College is the Best”

  1. This article was amazing, thank you for writing this! I’ve been natural for about 5 years and I do a lot of protective styles, but I absolutely love my hair. It took so long for me to reach that point though. And now I’m seeing so many Black girls being natural and proud and it gives me so much encouragement to imagine a world where little girls will grow up loving their kinks and curls.

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  2. On the flip side. I spent decades having my naturally straight as a board hair permed, to give it volume and to fit in with everyone else during the 80’s and 90’s. In this decade of my life…. my 60’s, I am embracing my straight hair. Why fight what we are meant to be and look like? We are all beautiful. xox

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  3. Thank you so much for this article! I grew up in a neighborhood without a lot of girls that look liked me (if you know what I mean) and I used relaxers since elementary school. Finally in college, I met so many beautiful, intelligent, and strong women of color that finally led me to embrace who I am and grow out my natural hair. It’s taken me about seven years to fully accept and love my hair and find products for it but I love it! It’s part of my culture and family history. Now people tell me all the time that they love my hair 🙂

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  4. I’m not in college yet but I’ve been natural since the 7th grade. I shaved all my hair off when I was twelve because it was just really dead and I wanted a change. I actually didn’t like how it looked for the longest time I even died my less than an afro, red and still wasn’t fund of it. Although it didn’t really phase me as much because 7th grade was the year I started homeschooling so I had time to adjust to it before getting into high school and going to school more often. Now I am a 10th grader in high school and my hair is collarbone length. I still struggle with finding hairstyles I can do with my natural hair so that is doesn’t always look the same. I’ve looked up hairstyles but they’re pretty much all for really small children or adults, not teenagers in high school. If you could make a blog for natural hair styles for teen girls that would be amazing !!

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  5. I go to a PWI so finding someone near campus to relax my hair was a struggle. Many of my upperclassmen friends had natural hair and encouraged me to try it. And I didn’t remember what my natural texture felt like. Fall break of freshman year i got braids. When i went home to trinidad for christmas, the goal was to install more brakds and transition but I dreaded sitting in a shop for hours so my father took me to a barber shop instead and we shaved my head. I’m curently in my senior year and my hair is about bra strap length and the healthiest it’s ever been. Going natural was the third best decision of my life.

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  6. I’ve been natural for about 3 years now after relaxing my hair for 21 years! I’m not sure why I really decided to go natural, it was a combination of friends telling me I should (no afro caribbean friends might I add, lol) and getting fed up of spending so much time and money in the hairdressers for straight hair which was just as difficult to maintain and stopped me from doing things like learning to swim! I’m so happy having made this decision and have never looked back. Each part of my natural hair journey brings with it new learning i.e my hair is at a length now where it tangles easily due to length but I will learn, it’s the hair I was born with!

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  7. I have been natural too since I stopped working in the airline. Natural is always the best. Though at most times I couldn’t decide what best suits me but I found and love my natural hair now. Even though I’m Asian and we seldom have curly locks but my family are naturally born with it. It gets hard to manage most of the time but nonetheless our curls are our natural born beauty. Loving it. Sharon Elsie | http://www.diva-in-me.com

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