Whether you go to a huge state school, or a small private university, stay close to home or travel across the country, college is a place to broaden your horizons and meet new people. For me this meant going from a high school where I could count the number of black girls with curly hair on one hand, to a college campus where I see girls with afros, twists, braids, buns, and countless other natural hair styles every day. It's amazing to see so many young women embracing and working with the hair they were born with, without the use of harmful chemicals. Statistics show that perm sales are dropping every year as more and more African Americans decide to go natural, especially women in the millennial generation. In the 60's and 70's natural hair was a political statement, a way to reject Eurocentric beauty standards and embrace Black Pride. Today it's a creative one as there are numerous products, techniques, and styles for people to experiment with, all while keeping their hair healthy and strong.
For me personally, I knew I needed a hairstyle that was going to be easy. I was 200 miles away from my favorite stylist (my mother) and I was busy juggling classes, extracurriculars, and time with friends. I wanted to keep my hair in good shape, while still expressing myself creatively. For the past three years I've worn my hair in a variety of protective styles-box braids, Marley twists, sew-ins, and crochet braids. All of these have given me "easy" hair so I can spend my evenings studying or going out, and my mornings getting ready for class or sleeping in. I don't have to worry about styling my hair every day, but I know it's healthy and ready for me to rock my afro once summer rolls around. I spent a month studying in Spain this summer. The Marley twists were perfect for that trip when I didn't have the time to deal with styling my hair every day. Once I returned home, I broke out the 'fro again. I'll wear my afro until the cold winter of Toledo, OH hits and I need to be able to put on a hat. Then it'll be back to one of my protective styles.
No matter what style works for you, the most important thing to remember is to have fun with your hair! College is a time of experimentation and freedom before post-graduate real life begins. It's a time to take risks and celebrate self-expression and hair is an amazing way to do that.
My summertime 'fro is below.