I had never seen so many different ways to style natural hair until I watched Insecure. Since I didn’t watch Awkward Black Girl, it was my first introduction to Issa Rae and all her natural hair beauty. Until then, the idea of wearing my natural hair seemed so limiting and to be honest, unattractive.
Rae is featured in LA Magazine in all her melanated glory and seeing her swept up into a textured ponytail reminded me of the days when even wearing a bun gave me anxiety. And how much she inspired me to embrace my natural hair.
I’ve always struggled to accept the hair that comes out of my head because I didn’t think it was long enough or thick enough or the acceptable 3c texture that is glorified by the world. And because of that, my natural hair didn’t equal to pretty. I hid behind my weaves and wigs so much, I’d forget there was hair under there. I affectionately called myself bald-headed.
I’d go into a deep depression around the time weave change came. Wigs and weaves easily range from $150-$650 and if it was a broke week, I’d struggle through what to do next. I’d look at women who could simply take their weaves out and rock their natural hair with envy so thick it crossed over into jealousy and hatred. I envied their texture and density the most because even if you have short hair, thick hair is still attractive.
I was scared to walk through the world with my hair until women with natural hair that looked like mine began to be represented in the media and it started with Issa. Much of that praise also belongs to her stylist Felicia Leatherwood, who I’ve had the pleasure meeting. She is the mastermind behind Issa’s natural hair growth, maintenance and looks.
Issa’s hair was as revolutionary as her story-telling because my friends and I hadn’t felt that represented until Insecure premiered on HBO. But there Issa was, brown with 4c hair and living like us. And men who desired her. I soon found that my own significant other found beauty in the curly/wavy texture of my hair. And I began experimenting with different styles like I saw Issa do.
Twisted, coiled, braided or swooped, Issa’s bold statement in wearing her natural hair in the mainstream helped normalize the average Black girl’s look.
While I still enjoy adding pieces to my hair and all my wigs, I don’t feel beholden to my extensions. I still struggle on days and how I appear on social media but I’m in a much better place. Representation in media matters.