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Love Your Hair

Mariah Martinez

Growing up I always had two different choices of hairstyles, braids or twists. I always felt pretty. My mom always braided my hair to help it grow and stay healthy. Every Sunday I would sit on my mom's lap and unbraid my hair. I would wash it in the bathtub and attempt to detangle it so it would not hurt when my mom combed it. I was tender headed. I always cried. She would soften my kinky curls with grease before braiding. I would fall asleep while she combed my hair and two hours later I would wake up and my hair looked pretty again.

It was around fifth grade when I started to notice all the other girl's hair was very different from mine. Being the only black girl in my entire class, I always struggled with being different. One day after coming inside after recess a girl in my class pulled one of my braids. She said I should just go cut my hair, "It's so ugly." After that day, I never looked at my hair the same.

The following day I grabbed my mom's electric razor and shaved the back of my head, wanting to shave it all but my mom caught me and forced me to stop.

When I was around eleven years old I decided I was old enough to start straightening my own hair. I straightened it every day. Later I bleached my hair so I could dye it red with an at home box dye.

My hair died quickly from heat damage. This required a day at the hair salon. I had to cut five to six inches to restart my hair journey.

Of course it did not end there. I wanted to lighten my hair once again, but this time to brown. My parents were 110% against it. I searched YouTube for ways to help and I stumbled on a video using ingredients you can find in your kitchen such as lemon juice and cinnamon. After applying the good smelling mixture to my hair and sitting in the sun as directed, I rinsed my hair only to find out it did nothing but make my hair smell amazing.

Back to the Internet I went and I found a video on hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to lighten hair. I made the mixture, applied it. This recipe worked. However, I had to apply the mixture about 5 times to get the color I wanted. My hair was now DRY and breaking in front of me! I looked up an at home protein mask on Pinterest to help repair my hair. I found a mask using eggs, bananas and honey. I applied the concoction to my hair and sat for 10 minutes as directed only to find the eggs had cooked on my scalp. Not knowing what to do with three cooked eggs in my hair I called my mom for help…it took two hours to get the eggs out.

I have many stories about experiments with my hair. Everything I did to change my hair was not for myself, but because people picked at my hair and criticized it for it being different. I've learned to be myself and love my hair.