Every day, the black, wavy, coiled curls luxuriously returned to their original form. With every passing week, each strand of hair was only spiraling tighter in a uniform ringlet. The mirror usually reflected someone with straight black locks. Every day at seven in the morning, the same routine repeated. “Sit and straighten your hair.” However, after a month of ditching the straightener, a whole other person stared back at me in the glass. Quarantine, as eternal as it may feel, has brought light to natural hair. After two years of high school, I’ve practically made everyone think my hair is as straight as the path of a shooting star. Or the lines that Mr. Villarreal does on his little iPad while he teaches collision.I’ve been continuously told, “You gotta bring your natural hair; you gotta bring it before we leave school.”

The thing is I only ever liked my hair when a 420-degree temperature straightener was clamping it. The only period when it was left alone was during June and July– in simpler terms, the summer. The school was the only reason I could see the start of the early sunrise from outside my window. Not because I was finishing assignments I couldn’t complete the previous night, but because I was clenching a hot plate to wild, untamed spirals into smooth, sleek strands. Now that, sadly, school is a small empty ghost town with no students or teachers roaming its every corner, on the bright side, I’ve ditched the hot iron. It’s been like this for a good month, and if I’m honest, my hair has never felt freer. While it might shock some people, despite my two light-years of constant straightening, my hair never submitted to irreparable damage. Surprisingly, split ends, frizz, and dead strands of hair were almost nowhere to be found. I never knew why I didn’t like my natural hair. Then one day, during quarantine, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and saw Jason Momoa staring back at me. After almost a month of my straightener’s farewell, I impulsively decided to pick it back up– just out of boredom. I hadn’t seen my straight hair since the last full moon we’ve had, and up to now, the wildness of my hair was at its peak. So there I sat, on my chair in front of my mirror, watching the coiled springs of hair dissolve into a steady stream of slick strands. You know, before this quarantine, seeing myself with straight hair in the mirror’s reflection would’ve been reasonable. Almost 35 days since my last “straightening,” I saw a stranger. I got so used to seeing the 16-year-old girl version of Jason Momoa staring back at me; I completely forgot how I used to look like. I know quarantine has been rough. But not knowing your reflection is breathtakingly astonishing. While I might’ve been taken aback by my mirror, I can heartwarmingly say, “I appreciate my hair.” I didn’t appreciate it in its natural curliness before, but I’ll still love my unique hair–whether straight or curly.

Marissa Llamas is currently a junior at Jimmy Carter Early College High School. She is in extracurricular activities such as UIL, The National Honor Society and the Texas Association of Future Educators. She has been doing UIL Academics ever since her freshman year and is currently in Mathematics and Number Sense. When she first joined UIL Math, she was shocked to see how she was the only freshman on the team. Last year as a sophomore, she went to the TMSCA competition for UIL Math in San Antonio. This year she was promoted as captain for her UIL Math Team. Her academic goals include to pass all her classes, to hopefully receive internships during the summer, and she plans to lead her Math team straight to regionals in San Antonio. She values how with a little determination, a touch of drive, and with true diligence anything is possible. 

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