Growing Up With An Afro

“Mommy, Is that a boy or girl?”

My mom and I were on an elevator to go on the Astro Orbiter ride at Disney World. I was 7 years old. There was another child with their parent in the elevator opposite of us, and that child spoke those painful words. What I’m sure was not meant to be a hurtful question, felt like a punch to my little stomach.30226381_1946243235450148_6810528030654464000_nI was born having naturally curly hair, which led to an epic afro. Looking back, I think I looked adorable, but my peers did not agree. As hard as I tried, my hair would not grow down and would only grow up. In kindergarten, I gained a “harmless” nickname, Cotton ball. It probably didn’t help that in elementary school I would twirl my pencil in my hair and then forget about it. That’s right… I walked around with a pencil in my afro on numerous occasions, which I actually find pretty hilarious now.

Ever since that little boy asked that question as Disney World, I no longer felt like a girl. I didn’t feel pretty. I didn’t feel like anyone would ever like me. Standing in front of my bathroom mirror, I would lift my shirt above my head but stop as it reached my hairline. I would then pretend that my shirt was long hair. I felt like a mermaid, I felt beautiful. Unfortunately I couldn’t walk around like that all the time, so I stuck to wearing lots of bandanas, hats, and headbands. Anything I could do to make myself look more feminine, I did.

I don’t believe that most of those kids meant to cause any true harm, and in fact I’m friends with a lot of them on Facebook to this day, including one who threw chunks of food in my hair because they knew I wouldn’t be able to feel it. Kids can do really stupid things, but thankfully most of them grow up to be kind and loving people.

With time and a lot of money, I was able to make my afro grow down at the age of 13. I finally felt free, but I believe freedom was always available to me. If I could go back in time, I would tell little old me to embrace how unique I was. I was a little girl with a legendary afro and an unheard of name, Jubilee.

“You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”- Wonder

  1. So true. You’re not alone. Kids can and are cruel at times because they have no filter and mean more good than harm. However, Im sure we’ve all experienced something similar when we were young. I can attest that I was teased because of the shape of my eyes. They called me all sorts of names, China, Chinese girl. You name it. But little did they know, I would one day embrace my Korean heritage. I was a short – still am, Spanish mixed with Korean girl to what others saw as a great target. But look at us now! You are a beautiful soul, and your hair attributes to you beautiful self. 😊🙏🏽

  2. This is the cutest little post about acceptance. Of course, I think your picture was very adorable. As a child, I was the exact opposite. I always wanted to be apart from the crowd so I did all the weird stuff that no one else would do. Funny that most of that stuff is popular now…

  3. Sometimes a harmless comment can mean a lot for our fragile self-esteem when we are little. I totally understand you, I was a little chubby when I was a child and my brothers were very mean to me, I was obsessed with my weight for a long time (wait! I still am haha). Thanks for sharing this lovely post 🙂

  4. As someone who has really curly hair, I emphasize with you. That hurts. But I do know (at least for me), you eventually decide to start rocking yourself in your own skin and don’t care what people think. 🙂

  5. I love your name, and your little fro! It’s the cutest!! And even now you have gorgeous hair.
    I was always teased for being short!! Mostly it wasn’t “mean” it was people giving me nicknames like fairy etc and always pointing it out. Unfortunately I can’t change my height! 😂😂

  6. I think it says more about that child’s parents than you – I would hope they answered something like it doesn’t matter if someone is a girl or boy and not all girls have long straight hair

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