Massendie Diaby, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia, PA, is currently majoring in mathematics. She is thinking about minoring in health studies. She is treasurer of Bryn Mawr’s only Afro-Caribbean organization, BACaSO. As the treasurer, she is basically in control all of the funding that the organization receives. Massendie is also a mentor at the Quantitative center on campus, so she tutors first years at Bryn Mawr in pre-calculus. Lastly, she tutors two 7th grade students at a local church. Aside from academics , Massendie loves dancing and musical theater. She has taken multiple dance and theater classes, which she really enjoys.
Her flaws are something that she really didn’t think about because it has taken her so long to build up the confidence that she has now. However, embracing her flaws is something that she feels like is extremely important. With that being said, her hair was one of her flaws that she was ashamed of. For as long as she can remember, she hated my hair. She never understood why her hair never looked silky, straight and long. She remembers as a child begging her mother to relax her hair because she wanted to look like the little white girls with long silky hair. After getting her first perm at the age 12, Massendie became obsessed. Her hair became easier to manage, so she would perm my hair at least every 3- 4 weeks. At the time, that is what made her happy. Little did she know, she was chemically damaging her hair in the mist of trying to “Fit in.”
Massendie knew her hair was a flaw of hers when she would use her hijab (A scarf that Muslim women wear to cover their hair) as an excuse to not show her hair. Along with wanting to practice her religion, she was embarrassed of the texture of her hair. She didn’t want to show her peers her hair because she was afraid of judgment. As a young child , all Massendie saw in the media were commercial of hair products that were for women with naturally straight hair. She didn’t really see women, specifically women of color who had her type of hair texture celebrated in the media. When she looked at kinky hair, she felt ugly. She didn’t feel beautiful because she was so focused on trying to manipulate her curl pattern to fit societies definition of “Beautiful Hair.”
She was introduced to the natural hair world through YouTube. One day she just decided to research what it meant to go natural. She came across a clip from the movie “Good Hair” that explained what relaxers were actually doing to her hair and that had explained why her hair started falling out. The more research she did about natural hair, the more she became overly excited about going natural. On July 3, 2015, she shaved all of her hair off. She couldn’t help, but feel free. She didn’t care about anybody’s opinion because she was going on this scary, yet exciting journey for her. When she watched other women of color hair journey, all she could think was “This is my hair, this is me.”
Advice from Massendie, ” I would tell young women of color that if you are thinking about doing the “Big Chop” go ahead and do it. Many people may look at you weird or may think your hair is too exotic, but your hair is apart of you so embrace it. Our hair is so special and its shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. Love your kinks. Love your curls and more importantly, love yourself!”