From insecurity to acceptance Praise Edokpa

Do you 100% love your hair right now?

For Praise Edokpa the answer is “yes.” Yet that wasn’t necessarily the answer at the beginning of her natural hair journey.

Many years of insecurity preceded the feelings of bliss, freedom, and acceptance. Edokpa quickly realized how troublesome the natural hair journey would be.

“I like gradually started to love it because I remember in the beginning I was having so much trouble,” Edokpa said.

Edokpa, who hails from Salem, Massachusetts, attended a fairly racially diverse school that had a strong Hispanic population. Yet with all the diversity, there weren’t many people who could relate to Edokpa when it came to hair.

“I didn’t really see a lot of people who looked like me in terms of skin color and with hair,” said Edokpa.

With a lack of representation and knowledge of her hair type, insecure thoughts began filling her mind. There was a period of time in which that insecurity kept her from showcasing her natural mane.

“With my background at home and at school, I just felt kinda [self] conscious with wearing my hair out,” said Edokpa. “Cuz I remember when I was transitioning and my family didn’t like how my hair looked, so I was afraid of wearing it to school wearing like braid outs and stuff like that.”

It took some time to embrace her hair. Her journey included permanently ending relaxers in the 8th grade and transitioning for two years - which meant growing out her natural hair as much as possible before cutting off the damaged parts. Then, Edokpa made the decision to big chop in 2016 and has been natural for two plus years.

After finally seeing her authentic hair, there was an atmosphere of relief that surrounded her.

“I felt relief when I cut my hair because I was so used to just seeing flat, lifeless hair and I was just really curious in seeing what my hair truly looked like without all of those chemicals being put into my hair,” Edokpa said. “So I just really felt relief and like happiness when I saw my actual hair pattern when I cut off my hair.”

Now that she's in a space where she truly loves her hair despite the negative stigmas that plague the natural hair movement, Edokpa can see her hair for what it is...hair.

“It really is just hair at the end of the day in my opinion.”

Edokpa puts up two fingers to signify how she's been natural for two plus years.

Q: What are the pros of hair typing?

A: "The pros...I guess it helps you find someone who you can relate to in a sense. Like in terms of representation."
Though Edokpa doesn't have her natural hair out in these photos, she is sporting a protective style. Braids are common protective styles used amongst many naturals to give their natural hair a break and to have a cool new style.

"I would say to research more and to not think of curly hair as the only acceptable form. I’d also tell myself to love myself more cuz I definitely struggled with that. And to just try to educate myself more and try to seek out the representation."-Praise Edokpa