Saturday, July 13, 2024

Lala Fitriani’s Journey to Loving Her Hair

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I was born in Indonesia and lived there most of my life. In my country, curly hair wasn’t celebrated — in fact, people revered bone-straight styles and still do to this day. So being born with a more wavy texture made me feel like something was inherently wrong with me. I thought my hair was just a frizzier version of everyone else’s so I hated it for a long time. This constant negativity about my natural waves impacted my confidence.

Because of this, I started getting keratin treatments. Essentially it was kind of like a perm that kept my hair straight for six months at a time. I did this routine regularly up until about 2019 when I’d had enough. I was extremely tired of the routine. It fried my hair to the point where it would be falling out regularly and was damaged to what felt like beyond repair.

Once I stopped the treatments, I decided to learn how to blow out my hair on my own since it was an affordable way to get a similar look. At this point, I still didn’t accept my waves — I was still trying to beat my hair into what was supposed to be its “natural straight state” in my eyes. I started going on YouTube to teach myself the best blowout technique and came across this video of a woman who explained that if you find your hair very frizzy, it may be your natural wavy texture trying to come through. At that moment it clicked for me. I started looking up information on wavy hair and sharing my journey to rediscovering my hair on social media, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

What I saw on TV and what I saw in the mirror in real life were different. It impacted my perception of my hair.

It was certainly a lack of media representation that led to me developing this narrative about my hair. Growing up, there were so many movies and TV shows that portrayed the evil, poor, or dirty, characters with frizzy, wavy hair. Korean beauty standards were also lauded as the ideal when I was growing up, so what I saw on TV and what I saw in the mirror in real life were different. It impacted my perception of my hair and my inability to see it as beautiful.

Even though I got to a stage where I wasn’t getting keratin treatments anymore, my relationship with my natural hair was also extremely unhealthy at first. I’d want to make sure that it looked as defined as possible and had no frizz at all. This would lead to me spending hours in the shower and loading as many products onto my hair as possible. I was almost trying to tame it differently. Though this wash-day routine was something I’d only do twice a week, after a while the maintenance got physically taxing and I realized that me doing all of this was inadvertently admitting to myself that I still didn’t like my natural hair. So I took it one step further and started to embrace my frizz.

Since then, I’ve felt like a load has been lifted off my shoulders. I’ve regained so much of my freedom and time, plus I’m not avoiding certain activities like swimming on family vacations out of fear that my hair will get frizzy. I feel liberated and mentally much happier.

Hair is a big part of my life but in the end, that’s all it is: hair. I’ve realized that embracing my waves is resistance. It’s a rejection of the impossible beauty standards that have been imposed on me before I was even born and a decided effort to reclaim my joy and embrace the way I look. It’s incredible how many doors have opened for me since I’ve decided to stop caring what others think and just embrace my hair natural hair. It’s been an incredible journey.

— As told to Ariel Baker

Ariel Baker is the associate editor for PS Beauty. Her areas of expertise include celebrity news, beauty trends, and product reviews. She has additional bylines with Essence and Forbes Vetted.

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