Natural Hair, Low Self Esteem, My Story

Natural hair related to self esteem

“According to the study by Bountiful Hair, natural hair being viewed as a messy look is causing many women, who wear their hair in that manner, to feel inadequate and less desirable as their counterparts. Those feelings of inadequacy causes women with natural hair to lash out at women with treated or straightened hair, and in turn lowers their self-esteem.

Of the 3,000 women who participated in the study, 2,500 said they did not feel as pretty as women with straightened hair.”

The above text is an excerpt from an article on the highly criticised and controversial The News Nerd website that is accused of fabricating stories. Still, it did inspire some thoughts. I have a very personal take on this story.

In about 2013, I  relaxed my hair for less than a year. Being my usual non-committal self, I just wanted a new look – a change. On relaxing my hair, a close male friend said, “Oh. You’re looking for a husband now. That’s why you relaxed your hair.”  I gave him the stare of death, but then rejected my impulse to bludgeon him with any sharp object available. How rude! Well, go figure, 2 years later, he is dating a young lady with very short natural hair. Life.

So, I committed to one year of relaxed hair (and lasted about 3 relaxers). During this time, I didn’t have to pay for one drink at a bar. Same outfits. Same makeup. Same me; but with free drink offers. Free ticket offers. More invitations on dates and stares from strange men. Professional doors opened too. In a nutshell, I was far more accepted. This is the reality.

Decades of conditioning

cannot be corrected

in a few months or even years.


I am fully accepting of my natural self and have been dedicated to helping others keep their hair it kinky on this blog since about 2007/8. Still, I too, have struggled. I am a slave to re-tightening the roots of my locked hair much like women are slaves to the relaxer. I’m addicted to a look of perfection and refinement that usually comes with straight hair. My kinky roots show up every month before I retighten my locs and I get anxious and often have feelings of inadequacy until my roots are once again “neat”.

Natural hair related to self esteem
Natural hair related to self esteem?

If you feel less pretty, don’t worry. You are not alone. There are many naturals we love to watch on YouTube, for example. While I love their natural hair and respect them for the information they share so  openly, I often see some of them swooning deliriously in the pleasure of flat ironing their hair. It is obvious that some are extremely excited and self-actualised through this process. One even said, and I remember clearly, “It is time to tame the beast.” She’s pro-natural, but still refers to her hair as a beast (not usually a positive connotation).

Also, artificial natural hair is becoming increasingly popular. Your hair has to be extra thick and maybe even a certain curl to be pretty. It’s natural looking and beautiful, but artificial hair ≠ natural hair. It can’t be. So, there is discrimination and feelings of inadequacy even within the natural hair “community”. It happens in other ethnicities too.

A University lecturer here in Jamaica expressed to me how frightened she was on entering a room, only to see about 3/4 of the female students with artificial hair, most of them stroking, or petting their hair like a dog. I see it all the time too – women constantly petting their hair. I find it a little odd, and could be highly critical if I wanted to get on a podium, but I can’t. Why? Again I say…

Decades of conditioning

cannot be corrected

in a few months or even years.

I am a victim of this conditioning. I have looked back at my naturally long, chemically processed hair with longing too – but have fortunately passed a place where I desire straight hair. But still, I struggle with my kinky roots puffing up when I am loc’d.

My charge to you – push on through. You’re probably constantly battling conditioning through images of straight haired beauties everywhere since they still dominate advertising. Let’s face it, even our black friends or colleagues are more accepting of straightened hair as well. Trust your gut. Keep your “naps”. Just remember one thing –

It’s the kinks that make you uniquely beautiful

and uniquely you.

– Keep It Kinky

Kinky hair is uniquely beautiful - quote


2 Comments on “Natural Hair, Low Self Esteem, My Story”

  1. Thank you for the article. Having locs myself that are down past my shoulders a little, I still felt unsatisfied with the length. So, I currently want to add loc extentions. Something told me to go back to look at my loc journey photos. When I looked at them and saw how far they have come (from a completly shaved head) I appreciated them more at the lenght they are. Although, I stil want the extentions it’s more so for style and convenience as appose to insecurity with my length.

    1. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes we just have to make loving ourselves the priority. That doesn’t mean we can’t put on makeup, but we just have to know that what we have under it is still priceless.

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