Brooklyn Jackson's Natural Hair Journey

My Natural Hair Journey
By Brooklyn Jackson

“I am not my hair, I am not the skin, I am not yourexpectations, no, I am not my hair, I am not the skin, I am the soul that liveswithin” lyrics by India Arie. As for myself I am my hair, and it has createdmemorable chapters in my life. My hair is truly my crown, my life, my glory,and I wouldn’t change any of the trial and tribulations we shared together. Thememories I had with my tresses taught me a lot about myself. My natural hairjourney started out liberating, after that it became stressful, then I startedto appreciate it, and finally it helped me develop confidence. 

It all started my seventh grade year when I decided totransition my relaxer to my natural hair texture. I wore cornrows for the rest of theschool year to help the transitioning process move quicker. Around the middleof summertime I made the choice to finally eliminate my relaxed ends. This wasa huge change in my life and it took time to get use to. After the big chop, itmade me feel like a brand new person and as if a weight was lifted off myshoulders. This was one decision I knew I would never regret.

The first day of my eighth grade year, I felt as if I gaineda fresh start and that made me feel very positive. Many students recognized mychange in attitude. They constantly asked me questions on why I made thatdrastic move.
The students didn’t quite understand why I would go natural whenI could chemically process my hair to be straight. I didn’t care of what theythought or thought I should do. I felt proud to represent as the only AfricanAmerican girl in my grade to rock an afro. Toward the middle of my eighth gradeyear, I received bad news from my dermatologist that I had a scalp infection.The medicines required to heal my scalp suggested I wear a scarf to schooleveryday. It was an embarrassing process and I was annoyed by dumb questions.But once my scalp was better I decided to go through the rest of the yearwearing protective styles.

I was finally done with middle school, and was excited tostart my freshman year of high school. I started my year out with individualbraids, so I could add growth to my hair. My hair was kind of uneven and I wasstarting to feel impatient. By the second semester I decided to straighten itfor the first time since seventh grade. I received compliments and soon becameobsessed with my new look. Having my hair straight made me realize how much Imissed my relaxer. After that point I constantly would keep my hair straight.The more and more I continued to put heat on my hair, the more my curls becamedamaged. I was starting to feel as if I was loosing grip of the person I wasborn to be. I had to talk to my mother to know if putting chemicals back intomy hair would be a good or bad decision. She would stress that it was extremelyunhealthy. At that point I was stuck between whom to believe, either my friendsor my family.

For my sophomore year of high school, I wanted a new stylethat didn’t involve a lot of work. I had developed stress because my hair washard to manage and that made me build frustration as well. I was at the pointto where I needed a break, so I decided to try dreads. I wanted my hair to looksimilar to neo-soul artist, Goapele. I was determined to reach this goal, whileknowing the consequences. I knew once my hair was in dreaded form, I couldn’tgo back. I was willing to take the risk though. The beginning stage was rockyand I wasn’t in love with it. It was starting to look a wild tangled mess andit was hard transforming my hair to appear decent. I tried to remember my goal,but the process was difficult. I was starting to miss all the versatilityoptions I use to have. The option to wear it in curls, braids, twists, or haveit straightened. I wasn’t enjoying the obligation to one style. I was missingmy form of expression. So I finally decided to take my dreads out before theybecame dreaded. I felt relieved and proud of my decision. I realized it was tooearly in life to make a permanent choice, like dreads. I was still in the trialand error journey in my life but this little experience made me appreciate mynatural hair.

When I entered my junior year of high school, I promisedmyself I would embrace my naturalness. I became more and more interested inlearning how to obtain healthy hair. I was also interested in learning how todo my own hair. I would research products that were healthy and good for myhair type. I soon realized I wasn’t the only person who transitioned from arelaxer. There was a whole community out there devoted to people who wanted tolearn how to care for their natural hair. This included many websites, and theannual natural hair show hosted in AtlantaGeorgia. It was as if I had beenexposed to a brand new culture or something. I had come to a point where I waspractically obsessed and was my number one topic. I took the responsibility tocare for my own hair involving shampooing, conditioning, blow drying, andstyling. I was even confident to rock my afro again. Students and teachersloved my hair; the compliments boosted my confidence even more. It made me feelachieved and proud of how far I came in my journey.
Once I finished junior year and summer came, I decided I wasgoing to rock my curls for most of the time. Overlooking my journey I began togain interest in cosmetology. My love for hair could be shared with others. Iwant to make other people fall in love with their hair like I did. I also wantto give people satisfaction and healthy hair. I developed inspiration and nowmy goal is to become a hair guru like Derek J, and Ursula Stephens.

It’s finally my senior year of high school and myrelationship with my hair is rocky. Since I had a slight obsession withstraightening my hair in the past, I’m suffering from heat damage. So my planis to transition, so I can have more new growth then go through a second BC.Everyone makes mistakes and I just want to give myself another shot atobtaining healthy hair. Overall my journey was relieving, frustrating, then I wasthankful, and lastly I could hold my head high. All these stages helped mebuild as a person. This could also be looked at as a journey to a new me. Tothis day I still have days where I love my hair, and days where I hate my hair.But all in all, I never gave up and I've been five years strong. I am excitedto experience many more years to add to my memories, including the result of myBC.