Picture this: It’s the 1980s. Hairspray galore and fashion trends that yell “I want to stand out and be different!”. The bigger the hair, the better. My hair was huge and very frizzy back in the 80s. I, Bella aka Def Curls, had a mixture of wavy and curly hair. I struggled with styling my hair because I didn’t know what to do with my different curl patterns. We didn’t have any of the natural hair products back then that we have today. I absolutely disliked my natural hair. I disliked it so much that when I was in 8th grade, I attempted to skip picture day because my parents did not take me to the hair salon to get my hair blown out for my school photo. I cried so much that morning and I told my parents that I was not going to school and I didn’t. I simply refused. Well, the vice principal of my school, which happened to also be my 8th grade teacher (Sister Lillian), called my house. My father answered the phone and she asked him why I was not in school that morning. My father told her, “She hates her hair.” She then asked to speak to me. I got on the telephone and she said, “I need you to fix your beautiful hair the way that you always do and come to school immediately. We need you for the class photo, please.” She assured me that the reason for my absence that morning would be kept confidential and for me to get dressed and head on over to school. So, puffy eyes and all, I went to school and I took my class photo. I share this because that experience is part of my “why”. It is part of the reason behind my motivation to do what I do today. Some people don't quite understand what motivates me to be a part of this natural hair movement. My “why” is that I want to share some of my struggles (whether hair related or not), I want to encourage others, and I want to celebrate those who are bold and courageous enough to be themselves. Isabella Andrea DeJesus (the young lady in the photos on this blog post), daughter of my former High School classmate and friend Jessenia, is one of those amazingly courageous and beautiful souls. I am so proud and honored to have the opportunity to share this beautiful nine year old girl's story. Following is Isabella's brief but inspiring bio.
Isabella Andrea DeJesus is a nine year old Jersey Girl whose fire sign, Aries, is evident in her personality. She's an absolute fireball. She has a no-nonsense attitude and is very confident. Isabella is strong-willed and has a great sense of humor. She enjoys drawing, singing, and writing stories. She loves her hair and she often wants to wear it loose. In a time when most girls her age want sleek, long hair, she has not only accepted her curly locks but she is proud of them, rightfully so. She is comfortable in her hair! She loves the attention that she gets when she leaves it loose. The below photo is Isabella's "picture day" photo this year. Her words to her mother were, “I wanted to wear it loose for picture day so I could look like the real me. I just enjoy the curls bouncing around my head! I feel good, and comfortable!”
Isabella works very hard both in academic and extracurricular activities. This year she tried out for drama club but she didn't make it. She expressed to her mother that she probably doesn't have what it takes. Her mother, the fierce role model that she is, told Isabella that she will always be her star. Isabella has the nerve to say and do things that most of us would not dare say or do when we were her age. When she is old enough, she wants to be a masseuse and own a big home. She is not sure whether or not she wants children when she is older because she wants to travel. I sense that this young lady is going to do much more than travel. She is paving the way for young girls her age, girls who have a voice and girls who want to be heard. We hear you loud and clear, Isabella! Your mother is right. YOU ARE A STAR.
What I would give to have an ounce of Isabella’s courage back when I was in 8th grade. Here, you saw two young girls react differently to "picture day". One was so consumed by what she felt she was supposed to look like to the point of being in tears whereas the other embraces her natural hair regularly with so much pride. Isabella has more guts than some grown women that I know today. I applaud her because although I know that she has some very influential role models supporting her on a daily basis, it really comes down to her. She has to truly want to be herself and she absolutely does. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this beautiful girl.
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