Hey guys! My name is Lizzy Rakey, I am excited to share my natural hair journey with you all. I was born with curly hair thanks to my dad having kinky curls and my mom having wavy hair. I was a shock to my family because my dad is an Albanian immigrant who has coarse curly black hair with dark olive skin…annnnd I was born blonde with lighter skin and blue eyes. I would have loved a little more of his olive skin, but he at least gave me his curls!
As a young girl I don’t recall anyone in elementary school making fun of my curls. I was pretty oblivious to the fact that I was very different at first. At this time my parents had no clue how to care for my curls. I have many cringe worthy stories of my mother ripping through my curls trying to detangle them while they were completely dry. My hair was an unruly mess for years because no one knew what to do with it, including me. By the 5th grade I already had the desire to start straightening my hair. So, for a few special events, my parents let me get it blown out and straightened. As if my hair wasn’t damaged enough by lack of moisture and breakage, I added heat damage to the list.
I hit middle school and this is where I started to hear comments about my hair. I had just recently gotten my haircut and I remember someone referring to my hair as “clown hair”. This was pretty devastating because up until then I didn’t think my hair was unattractive. I also remember being compared to ramen noodles and Medusa. Thankfully, I can’t remember all the other nasty things said about my curls, although I remember feeling different and judged for my hair. Since it took over 2 hours to straighten all of my hair, I started off just doing my bangs, much more attainable, right? Looking back…why everyone just let me just straighten my bangs I will never understand (thanks guys). I so badly wanted straight hair like my friends and like all the women in the media. No one around me had curly hair and all the actresses on tv had straight hair, so It gave me the impression that that was what was beautiful and desirable. I didn’t feel like I was enough because of the texture of my hair.
Towards the end of middle school, my friend with wavy hair introduced me to what was to become my holy grail product (drum roll please) …hair mousse! Even though it was loaded with silicones, not that I knew why that was important anyways, it tamed my frizz and I was hooked. I used this product for over 6 years through high school and early college. It took my already damaged hair and turned it into a stringy, dry disaster. Not hot. Over time, it transformed my curls into waves and I never realized it was because my hair was weighed down by silicones. My ends were completely straight and my hair had no volume whatsoever. It was horrible. So I resorted to washing it EVERY DAY…yeah I know, this story is sad!
When I was about 19 or 20 I went through a very traumatic event which caused my world to be completely turned upside down. I spiraled into a depression and developed also anxiety and PTSD just to top it all off. As I started to focus on self-care, I realized hair care counted as well. I eventually stumbled upon the curly girl method and the healthy/natural hair community so I started taking in all the information I could. Sulfates and silicone free products, how often to wash, and took the plunge and bought my first natural hair products. I haven’t looked back since and I am so happy I embarked on this journey. Actually, once I started caring for my curls I couldn’t stop; I was actually super obsessed, it’s all I could really focus on! Eat, take care of hair, sleep, repeat! Self-care felt so good and to nurture my hair in ways I hadn’t before, only because of a lack of knowledge. The best part of all of it was, it gave me a sense of reclaiming control over an aspect of my life during a time where so much of what I was going through was out of my control. It was extraordinary because almost immediately I could see and feel the difference in my curls. My hair was getting more moisturized and was starting to have some volume, goals right?
Let me be frank, my natural hair journey hasn’t always been wonderful or easy, there were (and still are) times of great frustration with my hair. Sometimes products that worked for others weren’t working for me and it was exhausting trying to figure out the right products and routine for my texture and curl pattern. There were so many times when my wash day results were not what I wanted and I’d look like a frizzy mess. I had to have a lot of patience with my hair during my transition because it wasn’t a overnight transformation into healthy curls. But overtime my curls kept changing and my true curl pattern formed!
I am so glad that I made the choice to go on a healthy hair journey. Otherwise my hair would still look like ramen noodles! But in all seriousness, it has really has changed my life for the better. I was completely unaware of how much potential my curls had until now, and never did I imagine that my hair could be so healthy! The choice to go on this self-care, natural hair journey also made me a part of a wonderful community. I have made such wonderful and supportive friends along the way and I am so grateful for that.
It’s sobering to acknowledge that it was the hardest time in my life that led me to take this incredible journey, resulting in me gaining so much. This journey has made me fall in love with my natural hair. And I cannot express how wonderful it is to love yourself for what you were born with. To accept and love yourself for who you are, and instead of feeling ugly and weird for being different I feel unique and beautiful for having curly hair. I feel like my curls are a part of who I am and suit my personality perfectly! I have embraced who I was born to be and it is so fulfilling. I wouldn’t have the self-worth that I have now if I hadn’t gone through with this hair journey.