That Time I Decided to Become Myself

Hair is a thing.

Or at least I feel that my hair is a thing.

I’ve never been quite content with my hair.

I ran around with a towel or pillowcase on my head pretending as if I had long flowing locks.

I marveled after Bridget, Kelly, Stacy, Brandie, Amber, and Britney with their soft, long, ponytail worthy hair.

I hated the Jheri Curl that my mom made me keep for way too long.

I abhorred the fact that mom didn’t know how to do hair which led to some very interesting moments throughout middle school.

As soon as I could convince my mother I purchased hair for the micro braids that seemingly made me come to life in high school.

After I was done with those I ran to lay tracks in my head that transported my hair to the middle of my back, sky high ponytails, and eventually in a chic shoulder length bob that was more appropriate for my sparkling royal blue homecoming queen gown. My grandmother nicknamed me Farrah Fawcett.

I didn’t see my hair until I was a freshman in college. That reveal was a mistake and one that I was quite miffed at my “hairdresser” of a friend about for about 20 minutes. However, the boy loved it because he finally got to see me and he loved me

Then came the era of the curling iron.  I flipped it, curled it, wrapped it, greased it, straightened it, relaxed it, cut it, banged it, and all in all I killed it. Everything I did to it murdered its true essence. I fought against its very nature.

In grad school, I found Wanda and she whipped it back into shape. She cut it, relaxed it, and worked her magic wand to make it thick and healthy. She made it beautiful and in my mind made me beautiful. The white boys in the fraternity I lived in would watch her revive their “mom’s” mane. When I graduated, I let Ashley cut it into a gorgeous Posh Spice bob. It was admired. Ashley, a white girl, had cut my hair with an expert hand and the black girls at my salon in VA bowed down with respect.

I then moved to NC and well, it all went downhill from there. I never found “my person” so I let randoms get into my glory and sometimes it was great and other times it wasn’t. I started getting it trimmed and learned how to do it myself –bad idea. I get my non hair doing gene from my mama.

By the time I got to Nashville, she was a wreck. She was split up and dry and d-a-m-a-g-e-d. I showed up at the salon and all they could say was “pass me the scissors”. However, I didn’t have it in me to go short again so after a while I braided my headpiece up and kept her under wraps for a year.

I then had to make a decision. What next?

home to yourself

The girl with the long hair, the girl with the high ponytail, the girl with the long braids, the girl with the cute haircut– the hair brought me courage, it gave me energy, confidence, ease, and well it gave me something that I thought I couldn’t have on my own. Let’s be honest, it also gave me a place to hide. Hair is a status symbol and like anything else that you wear, it tells the world about you. What would people say if I was just me? What if I just became myself?

Recently, I took the plunge. The plunge of going back to natural. I took out all of the hair that was mine as noted on a receipt and released all that had happened over the course of one year of no heat, no chemicals, no products, and no scissors.

I decided to become me. At 31, I became me. Whew!

Me was not happy at first. In fact, me was sad and panicked and planning a return to braids. Me showed up to work with a poo face and refused to show anyone who I actually was underneath it all.

But then, I started figuring out what to do with me. As I looked at me more and more, I realized that I loved me and that my big smile, bright eyes, pretty skin, odd shaped eyebrows, and fat cheeks were all still there. Over the course of a year, I’d grown a nice amount of thick, soft, curly, kinky, and fun hair.

It has now been a month since I’ve been me. Let me tell you, people like me. I’ve had a few outreached hands which were quickly batted away, a few confused looks but then flashes of understanding once I let them know what happened to all the other hair that once belonged to me according to Bank of America, and overall all I’ve had a lot of “I love it”, “It suits you”, “It’s beautiful because its natural”, “You’re beautiful” and so on and so forth.


Most importantly, I’m feeling good about her and her debut into the big bad world. We’re getting along and figuring each other out. She ‘s thirsty for products, likes to be washed every four days, twist outs are her go to and we enjoy when she’s a bit bigger.  I mean, like LARGE. I told myself that I’d go without straightening her for a month and I’m now 2 weeks past that deadline. I have no interest or time to wield a flat iron so perhaps I’ll keep this challenge up for another month.

Hair is political and I know that I’m privileged to work at a place that allows me to wear my hair as I see fit. I never actually foresee my boss saying a  negative word about my hair.  Working with students who we want to shine as bright as possible and also who we work with on a daily basis to live authentic lives makes it easier for staff members to do the same. There are lots of natural students strutting around campus these days.

I avoided going natural for so long because I just didn’t think that the look was me. Imagine, the way I was born is just not authentic enough. [side eye] 

That other hair that I had someone braid into my head was never mine to begin with because it never created an opportunity for me to just be Krystal. It was an accessory, a statement piece, that created a space in which people couldn’t remember what I actually looked like without it. I felt that without that hair I would miss out on something great. Perhaps “the one” was around the corner and he would walk by if I didn’t have that hair.

Ahem! Newsflash, Clark–you didn’t have a man with the hair so what made you think that keeping it longer was going to have any impact on your single status? Point taken. I’m often irrational. Let’s move on to the next point.  Ahem!

What you see is actually what you get. There isn’t any more reveal. I’m coming out as me. “I’m a real girl!” said in Pinocchio voice 🙂

Wearing  a mask is never comfortable because there is the constant worry of what will happen when the mask comes off. There has been a burden lifted with the shedding of the 4 bags of 1B.

The natural adventure is underway and though it has added a great deal of time spent co-washing, detangling, conditioning, applying oils, and twisting, I’m just happy to be Krystal. I’ll never forget that time in the Summer of 2014 when I became me.

natural 2

Thanks for reading!

Later Y’all.




I have felt a bit frumpy since I cut off my hair. I thought I wanted a short, cute, and “easy” haircut BUT I was sorely mistaken. I really tried to grow into loving it but the chemistry just wasn’t there this time. When I cut my hair in grad school, I was a different person and that version of Krystal rocked the short look with absolute confidence. It might have helped that I was also a few pounds lighter. After growing weary of looking at myself in the morning and of threatening to become a legit hermit instead of taking the time to do my hair in order to face the plethora of social outings that creep onto my calendar (not bragging, just telling the truth) I made the decision to invest in my hair by purchasing more hair. I ventured back into the world of braids after quite the hiatus (sophomore year of high school). I needed something easy, flexible, and since it is the summer something that would make it possible for me to actually enjoy the pool and not run screaming from water like I’m Gizmo, the Gremlin.

Now, I’m not a woman that has accepted the act of “going natural”. It still makes me a bit anxious, although I know that the concoction used to “relax” my hair is actually stressful and is doing nothing but damaging my hair and my scalp. Watch Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair” to learn more about what he calls “the creamy crack”. My real hair is currently quite unhealthy and the braids are providing it with a nice all expenses paid summer vacation.

I have micro braids and they took 11 hours. I used 3 bags of human hair 1B silky straight. Sometimes there were three women braiding my hair at one time. It hurt and I was exhausted by the end of my session but it was so worth it because these last few weeks have been absolute heaven. My prep time in the morning has been decreased by 30 minutes. I can do things with my hair that I could not do before–I actually went to the pool twice this weekend without hesitation. I can go to the gym without worrying about whether I’m going to have enough time to do my hair before I go to work. New hair also makes your clothes look new. I haven’t shopped because with the hair all my ensembles seem to have a fresh edge. I am actually unrecognizable to some people as my friends totally looked past me at church. I had to smile and wave for them to even know it was me.

I have been asked the following questions:
1. How long did that take? (11 hours) How did you sit there for that long? ( I read, slept, watched a couple lifetime movies, and had some conversations.)
2. Did your mom do your hair? (Uh, no. What?! I went to an African Hair Braiding Salon)
3. Wait, how did your hair grow that fast? (Really? I’m not a Chia Pet–it’s fake! )
4. Did your scalp bleed? (No, but it was sore.)
5. How long can your hair stay like that? (3-4 months)
6. Could I do that to my hair? (the answer depends on who asks the question)
7. Can I touch your hair? (Grr…I am not an animal at a petting zoo.)

Can someone please tell me the deal with wanting to touch African/African American hair?

All in all, I’ve had a great reception even from people who I never thought would compliment my mane. Hair is political and can lead to incredibly heated conversations. There are people who do not believe that my hair is professional, there are people who think that every woman should wear their natural hair texture and don’t understand why women still chemically straighten their hair, there are women who are horrified at the thought of wearing their kinky/curly all natural hair, there are people who still believe in the notion of “good hair”, and there are people who purchase hair and choose their own adventure without hesitation. Hair can be a topic that serves as a catalyst for larger race based conversations. I spoke with my 1st year hall mates a lot in college about the differences in our hair and I got a great laugh out of my suite mate who used my hair products (after being told not to) and the disastrous results. This building block led to deeper issues about race on our campus and even though sometimes those encounters can be exhausting they are often needed.

Funny how the grass is always greener on the other side. My white girlfriends always say “If I had your hair, I would wear an afro.” Meanwhile, tons of African American women are in the hair salon forcing their hair to be stick straight. The cultural norms that society has defined pushes people towards one end of the continuum or the other. I must confess that I was a bit worried about what “the bosses” would think of my hair. I work at a pretty conservative, private, and privileged institution in the south. I know the students will love it because they are cool like that, but I was a bit worried about some of my superiors. To my delight, I haven’t had any issues. In fact, they really like it.

I haven’t worn weave since my first year of college when I realized that my then boyfriend had never really seen what I looked like because I’d been wearing fake hair since we met each other. I was proud of myself for wearing my real hair and I was good with that until it started breaking off and there were crazy split ins, heat damage, and at home relaxers gone bad. I needed to not care so much anymore and braids were the answer to my prayer.

I must say that I feel more attractive. I feel more confident. I’m not worried about my hair all times of the day or night. I know that appearance certainly isn’t everything, but we’ve got to be realistic in understanding the role it plays in our everyday existence. My new hair has brought a new energy to my everyday that I desperately need right now.

Hair can be changed so easily. I have a friend whose hair is a different color every time I see her. I have another friend who loves wigs and switches them up depending on her mood. I also have a friend whose hair has been the exact same for over 15 years. Hair is so personal and since I don’t subscribe to the traditional professional way of dress for work–I don’t do oppressive business suits. I work with 18-22 year olds. My goal is to look classy, be comfortable, approachable, and perhaps have their parents think that I’m not a sophomore in college while adhering to my style. I also need to act on the same philosophy with my hair.

Tell me about your hair journey. Any fun adventures?

Check out my Me, In Real Life page to see various photos of my glorious mane of hair throughout the past few years of my life.

Later Y’all.