As a teenager my main goal in life was to blend in. As someone who got picked on for wearing glasses in the third grade, I knew being different was the kiss of death in the social stratasphere of the public school system. I wanted to be just like all the other girls—Jordache jeans, bright orange varsity jacket, and relaxed hair done up in a roller set.
It wasn’t until I moved away from my small hometown of Albany, Georgia, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that I started to realize the cool girls were the ones who stood out in a crowd. Part of the excitement of college is that you can be someone different, someone more exciting than your high school self. I didn’t take it that far—I was still the nerdy black girl with glasses—but I did decide to branch out and go natural. I stopped getting a relaxer and let my natural coils grow out for the first time since I was a little kid.
My transition was inspired by the few girls I saw on my college campus who were wearing Afros or their natural hair straightened with a hot comb (most of them were not native southerners). These girls had a sense of style that was beyond anything I’d seen in my Georgia hometown or even on TV. Whereas many women I admired wore weaves and wigs that were long and flowing—the goal was always longer hair—these ladies valued "the look.” A style that set them apart in some way.