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How you Gone Win if you Ain't Right Within?

How you gone win if you ain't right within?

I told myself that I was going to wait until I knew the best way to approach this topic but I've come to the conclusion that there really is no "right way" so I'll just do it MY way. This week I'm going to give it to you straight, no chaser and if I make you gut check, mission accomplished. I want to talk about my decision to let go of protective styling and anything that makes me forget about IMANI.

Next week will make a month since I started my loc journey yet within this month, I've learned so much about myself. Never in my life have I been able to just wear MY hair. Yes, I've worn it in it's natural state but you have never once seen my hair not stretched or without some sort of product in it, this is why I am loving my decision to loc my hair. With my locs I have no choice but to embrace my hair no matter how insecure I feel about it. The first day I put my starter locs in I forced myself to tell myself that I didn't look too much like the person that I've hated for so long. It only took me 2 days to put a scarf on my head again, just trying to mask the ugliness that I felt.

You see, ever since I can remember, my hair has been my biggest issue. There have been times when I thought I had it all figured out "self love wise", yet when it came to my hair, I just never tackled that issue. I always wanted to look "foreign'' even while being natural when I know good and darn well that my hair just does not do certain things. For 2 years of my natural hair journey I convinced myself that I did not have 4C hair when CLEARLY once it dried up with no product, that's exactly what I had. The truth is I hated my hair because I couldn't just wake up and look the way I wanted to, it always took some work.

I have been natural for almost 5 years now, yet nobody has ever truly seen my hair, my fro. They've always seen it stretched or defined but never shrunken, dry, and brittle. Although I have been natural for 5 years I can't even name 2 straight months where I just didn't do anything to my hair, where I really learned to love MY hair. In order to be accepted by the natural hair community I hid behind protective styles so that I could always look on ''fleek" until my hair grew to a point where my 4C hair texture didn't matter because it would be long enough to pull off anything.

What I didn't realize while doing a new style every 2 weeks or month was that I was abusing my mind, I was abusing myself. I would do my hair and feel gorgeous after an installation but on the days that it was time to take out my protective style I felt hideous looking in the mirror. There were so many times when my boyfriend would tell me he was on his way and I would decide not to wash my hair until he left because I was so ashamed of what I really looked like.

I know now that I am beautiful but before this loc journey I can honestly and truly say that that is not how I felt. I lied to you all when I said I loved myself, I didn't.

These growing locs of self love have given me the power to look in the mirror and truly appreciate the beauty that is me. I love the fact that I can go without having to blend my weave or think about how secure my wig is, I have to actually pay attention to myself. This weekend I was sitting on the couch with my boyfriend and he ripped my bonnet off of my head. I instinctively grabbed for my head to cover it only to remember why I'm doing this. I don't want to hide anymore, and I don't want to be ashamed of what my hair looks like under my bonnet. I don't want to have to put gel on my edges or put a scarf on over a wig just to look "presentable" while laying up with my man. That is crazy and so self damaging it makes me cry when I think about how many of us Black women live like this everyday.

That self hate is a sickness and I was killing my self esteem with each new style I did, this is why I'm done with protective styling for a very long time. I am done with protective styling until I feel comfortable enough to not lose myself with one in. I want to feel like I look better naturally, not with any enhancements. This is also why as much as I love lashes, I will not get into the habit of lash refills. There has to be certain times where I am not wearing lashes to remind myself that that extra blink does not NATURALLY belong to me. I am beautiful and even though sometimes I forget, lately, I'm reminded everyday. When I go to the gas station or the grocery store with my baby twists in my head and still have men ask for my number, I know in my heart of hearts that it all starts with me. I am the energy I attract and now that I have started this journey I walk with confidence that spreads like wild fire. Women come up to me all of the time now and say "you look beautiful today queen", and it's like power surge of self love for me.

Getting up, spraying my hair and not laying my edges if I don't choose to feels amazing and I challenge any woman who knows that they don't truly love the way they look naturally to force yourself to.This means not hiding behind anything that makes you feel "prettier". You don't have to do this ALL of the time but MOST of the time for quite awhile. You should do it until you genuinely feel comfortable in your own skin. This self love journey is NOT easy but it is well worth it, so go ahead, look in the mirror, and get real. As Lauryn Hill said, "how you gone win if you ain't right within?".. See you next Tuesday !

I love you,

Imani Blaize


Charlotte, NC, USA