BIRCHBOX: A Q&A With Ayana Byrd

What would you say to a woman who’s struggling to embrace her natural hair?

I went natural in 1992. I was in college in New York, and I was broke. I couldn’t afford to take care of my hair the way I wore it—I thought it was going to be as simple as that. [But] I felt crazy when I cut my hair off! I didn’t feel as confident; I didn’t feel as attractive. We live in this culture where as women we’re told that so much of our identity is about looking a certain way, and from the time you’re a little girl you know what that certain way is. The first thing I would say to someone is to give yourself a break and not think that you’re crazy or a narcissist or superinsecure because you’re having a hard time going natural.

The other thing I would say is get on the Internet and start looking at pictures of women with natural hair. If we can just see images over and over and over again of hair we’re aspiring to, or the hair that we want, or the hair that’s actually growing out of our heads, it starts to normalize something that isn’t a normal part of what we see. I think that it starts to feel more beautiful, and that can give you a lot of confidence.

Read the entire Q&A here.