When I think of my childhood, I remember hundreds and hundreds of colorful beads in this old makeup case my mom had. Every few weeks she would individually braid my kinky hair and add all types of beads in a beautiful design or pattern. I would always be excited to go to school the next day and show off my new look. Instead of the compliments I wished for, I’d get ignored, or girls would pull at my braids making fun that it was all fake. I’d always get yelled at for defending myself and they’d threaten to call mom and get me in trouble. Whenever my hair was unbraided and just out, there was always this question of what to do next? I don’t remember rocking any type of puffs or afros on purpose back then. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but I got gum all over my hair one summer, after a scolding, my mom ended up cutting my hair into a small afro which I hated. I was actually ashamed of my Afro.
Here Comes preteen. At the time I was going to a predominantly white school in a suburb I was bussing to along with all the other inner city kids. They definitely made me feel like I did not belong, and I was always ostracized for being who I was. I was bullied either for my color, my weight, and because I shopped at the Goodwill. Anything . So, I decided to reach out to my black side for help. One evening my aunt permed my hair for the first time And it was absolutely beautiful. My mom was furious and I was in a rebellious stage. after the new wore off, I was clueless again about what to do with my hair and I was back at square one. One day in the 6th grade I went to school rocking my freshly washed blown-out hair and my Mr Rogers looking teacher called me a Tina Turner wannabe. He also reminded me that it wasn’t Halloween that day. Everybody laughed, I thought it was some type of a compliment at the time. Totally wasn’t.
As Time passed by, I began to perm my hair on the regular in order to get the straightest look possible. Since I had no flat irons, all I ended up having was a puffy ponytail which I was bullied about as well. I’ll tell you a quick story about an incident that happened on the bus stop on an early cool crisp morning. I was about 11 or 12, these two girls, I’ll never forget their faces, came up to me. They said : “Knock knock” and I replied “who’s there?”. I was ready for the punch. “Honeycomb” . I said “honeycomb who?” By this time I was already humiliated.” Honeycomb your hair!” Everyone just laughed in my face. By my teens, I was completely clueless about who I was and who I supposed to be. I was never black enough for people , and I was never Puerto Rican enough either.
I spent the majority of my ⬆️20’s perming my hair and finding ways to keep it as flat and straight as possible. I would regularly go to the shop and get my ends clip with the brand-new relaxer in it, my hair was always gorgeous to the point where it looked like Weave. I was definitely proud of my gorgeous bangs. in fact, I felt like my hair was all that I had going for me, besides my kid. My baby boy has always been my pride and joy. Right before I turned 30, I had an epiphany: ” I’m so tired of these perms! I don’t think this fits me anymore, I want to go something with a little more authentic and natural.” So I switched to Afrocentric. Some of my biggest inspirations are the lovely Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and India Arie. Their music brought me life.
I decided to cut off all of my time and rock a short bob until it was long enough to begin my brother locks. Gosh darn it my brother locks🤦🏾♀️, they were so beautiful. I did have a Coolio stage for about a year-and-a-half but then they just blossomed and grew past my shoulders.
I was elated regardless of how heavy my head was at the time. Everywhere I went all I ever got was compliments on my hair yet again. Never me. unlike the song of India Arie, I was my hair. My hair was me, that’s all I had to show for myself because everything else seem to be one big fat flaw. About a year later I endured one of the worst stress situations ever, so my Locs began to fall out. Before I ended up with bald spots, I decided to do the big chop. Instead of just about shaving the locs off , it was best to cut half way through them and pick out the rest. Took me two weeks. and Wallah, a new Crystal was born my hair was thick with curly, tough but manageable. Everything I ever wanted and more. The more I woke up in the morning with these full luscious I began to understand that I was never really allowed to be who I was originally. I never gave my hair a chance to be what it really could be.
So I ask myself was it Society? Was it me? Who didn’t allow me to be who I really was? Me. I always feared judgment. Even recently, some of the people closest to my heart ridicule my Kinks and tell me to do something with my hair. my favorite line is when he asked me when did I get electrocuted? I always wondered, why? What was wrong with my hair? What was wrong with my Afro? Absolutely nothing. The irony is total strangers adore my hair. They asked me if it’s even real!
After the big chop, I finally had the opportunity to really understand myself. Cutting my hair meant removing that constant filter I walked around with in my life. I no longer depended on my hair to represent me. The truth is I love my hair. I love the fact that it’s Kinky, Curly, nappy all at the same time! And I also know what length I am comfortable with. The most important thing is this…. I am not my hair. I am me. So be you! ❤️