What is one of the few things you notice without fail every single morning?
Black, Brown, Blonde, Thick, Wavy, Straight, Curly, Long, Short, the list goes on.
We can’t help but look at our hair and feel the need to fix it every morning. We apply countless products and use different tools to get the look we want, or the look others expect. It’s difficult to deny the fact that society influences how we see ourselves. If our hair is naturally curly but that undercut only works with straight hair, or our hair is naturally black but just a bit of brown on the tips could make it look so much better. The problem is, the hair industry is full of harmful practices and chemicals. Blow-drying, over brushing, excessive shampooing, and highlights are just a few of the common practices that lead to damaged hair. Additionally, Parabens can be found in multiple hair products that contain harmful chemicals which can promote the growth of cancerous tumors. The Huffington Post lists 9 other ingredients you should avoid here. However, to make your search for a product that contains 0% of these easier, look at companies like Acure and Everyone for natural, ethical products to help you discover the beauty of your natural hair.
To some extent, I have seen the damaging properties of these chemicals in my own life. Hair problems is something I was familiar with since I started school. I was never satisfied with my hair. I got completely different haircuts every few years. It wasn’t until high school that I preferred the generic undercut style. However, I could never pull it off because of how damaged my hair had become from years of cheap gels, shampoo, and conditioner. My naturally thick, wavy hair did not enjoy a uniform style needed for an undercut. I would grow out my hair, straighten it, blow dry it and use hairspray, but nothing ever worked. At some point I believed that my hair was just a naturally frizzy, dry mess instead of recognizing the damage from cheap, convenient products.
However, one day I did recognize the root of my damaged hair. I had this hope that my hair was not naturally damaged and pathetic. I had to start over. I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t know if I would be brave enough to do it. I stood in front of the mirror, razor and scissors in hand, planning to “just even out the top”. I did. But I wasn’t satisfied. I knew I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t go through. So I put the No. 4 on my razor and shaved the top off. When I was done I felt proud of myself, but I knew I could go the extra mile. So I clicked on the No. 2 and evened out my hair. I looked completely different, yet so familiar. It was a lot easier to go through with it than I thought. I’m not saying you need to shave your head, but I am encouraging you to refuse the harmful chemicals the hair industry is trying to sell you. Please, check out Acure and Everyone for natural, healthy alternatives that promote natural beauty. If we deserve to feel good about ourselves, our hair does too. So to my own hair, I wrote an open letter, to express how I feel about this experience.
May we all rediscover the virtue and dignity our natural bodies possess.
I’m sorry for everything I’ve put you through, all the pressure I put on you. It wasn’t fair, I shouldn’t have treated you this way. Ever since I was young we had a complex relationship. I was never satisfied with the way you looked, and I tried to change you. Ashamed of who I was, I used heat and chemicals to make you look different. I thought that if at least my hair could look like that of my “friends”, I would be happy. So I used countless conditioners filled with harmful chemicals and used my sister’s hair straightener to get rid of your natural waviness. I hated how thick and unmanageable you were so I used thinning shears countless nights to change you. It’s awful that I believed more chemicals could cure the dry, frizzy state you became from past use of “conditioners” and “treatments”. I kept trying to make you something I could be proud of, but how could be proud of something so unnatural? I was tired of the mess you became, I couldn’t handle you anymore. So for that, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I had to get rid of you, temporarily. Because a true apology includes restitution.
So here is to our future.
I promise to never hurt you like that again. No more chemicals. No more heat. No more leave-in hair treatments. It will be a long, stressful journey. But we all need to grow. May I learn to grow. May you grow naturally, and healthily. However, we will not be alone in our journey. Acure and Everyone are just a few of the companies providing use with natural, conscious products to help us. It may be awhile before we need their all-natural conditioner or hair cream, but we will get there. We will get back to who we are. Because it’s not the chemicals in our hair or the toxicity in our environment that defines us. It’s what lies inside us. I will not be ashamed of my heritage, appearance, or morals. And with this journey, I know I am one step closer to achieving that goal.
About the Author:
Isaac Aguilar is a senior at Escondido Adventist Academy in Escondido, California. Isaac participated in Project Green Challenge (PGC) 2017 and was selected as a Finalist. He currently serves as a member of Turning Green’s Student Advisory Board.