Singer-songwriter Mélat from Austin, TX shares how long it took her to accept her tresses and how going completely blonde has made her more bold and comfortable in her skin – both as an artist and a woman.
Tell us about your hair journey.
My mother braided my hair weekly for most of my childhood but I remember the first hairstyle I wanted was bangs so I could fit in with the girls at my school. After that phase I continued trying to fit in so I transitioned to the two plaits, sleeked back hair, and straightening. Once I got a little older I just decided to cut it all off as a form of liberation. Once it regrew I was deeper into my music and went blonde. The color transition was for myself and has been the most liberating step in my journey of all.
Describe your hair in 5 words or less.
Curly, liberating, unconventional, strong, me.
My Hair Through the Years
How did you wear your hair when you were younger?
Typically my hair was braided during my elementary days. By middle school I began to get tired of the weekly ritual and I got my first relaxer. Eventually, my hair started coming out so I grew it all out and started my middle school trademark of the two plaits with an occasional straightening.
Most of my life has been long, virgin hair braided, straightened or curly. I was a shy girl and didn’t really pay attention to hairstyles or anything like that so it would be easy for me to stay low key and blend in. I just rocked my natural hair color with a “normal” style that didn’t stand out in anyway.
It wasn’t until I was out of high school that I decided to take the deep plunge and cut my hair VERY short. I tried cutting it shorter before and it never had the desired effect, but as we all know a good breakup can easily fuel a huge chop. I loved it. I had a tiny straightener and had to take clippers to the back and I was super proud.
It was also the first time I tried color, some very dark brown/red highlights that you could hardly see. If there was any downside to it, it would be straightening my super short, curly hair. It’s like trying to catch a little cat that doesn’t want to be caught. It’s damn near impossible.
So fast forward to today with my curly, big, blonde locks. A three-day decision has become something like a two year love affair that has meant more to me than I could’ve imagined. It is also the style I’ve had the most negative reactions to. But to be honest, it’s the first time I’ve felt like myself. Not that a blonde is what I was born to be, but it has helped me realize what it’s like to not hide and to be accepted for the person that you are on the inside (as backward as that may sound) and also for the decisions you make for yourself.
What has been your favorite look of all?
My favorite has been where I’m at today. I’ve been able to not only learn more about myself by not being able to blend in but also learn so much about taking care of my hair. I love how it looks and I love the crazy curls in the fun color they’re in.
Style you’ll never wear again?
I don’t think I’ll ever rule anything out. My hair has been an outward manifestation of who I am at the time. It’s been this way all of my life even before I understood this concept. As long as the style is true to who you are and what makes you happy, any style works. Rock it with confidence.
Tell us a bit about your hair routine.
Monthly/bimonthly: Deep conditioning treatments and then I will French braid my hair with leave in conditioners and any other moisturizing products I might have around; I rotate brands on the treatments.
Weekly: Full on wash with Joico K-pack shampoo and conditioner
Daily: Light re-wetting, apply Shea Moisture Detangling product and I will either leave in some Joico K-pack conditioner or use Cantu’s leave in conditioner. If time allows, I’ll French braid my hair and let it loose for the day.
It is also the style I’ve had the most negative reactions to. But to be honest, it’s the first time I’ve felt like myself.
What products can’t you live without?
Cantu Shea Butter Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream, Joico K-Pak Conditioner and Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Detangler with Extra‑Moisture.
How do you feel about your hair right now?
So in love with my hair right now. I’ve been able to accept my hair’s natural state of curly and unruliness which has allowed me to really embrace who I am as a person. India Arie said “I am not my hair,” but through the styles we choose we are able to understand what we deeply feel about ourselves at that moment. It’s a beautiful exploration when you refuse to conform to any notion of beauty besides what fits with you and who you are.