As a kid, I weirdly enough never felt attached to my real birth name - Christina.
My parents and family always called me by other names. One nickname was the Filipino shortened version: Tinay. My dad was very proud of our Italian roots and always used my middle name: Maria. My first name Christina was usually used when I got in trouble or more serious situations went down.
Throughout the school years there were always other Christina's and I longed for a unique name to stand out among the other girls. In high school, I played with Tina as a nickname with some teachers. Others had much more fun addressing me by my last name: Moffitino.
The dance community is one to proudly embrace uniqueness with nicknames and personas. When I made the college hip hop team the team captains could never remember my real name, because they didn't think it fit me either. I was dubbed 'Poofy' and it forever changed my being. I created my alter ego that really gave me the identity I was looking for.
Ironically enough I HATED my Poofy hair growing up. I used to cry to my mom and she would do her best to braid it up or tie it back, and sometimes lay me flat and use an iron to straighten my hair. I so longed to have permanently straight hair like all the girls on TV or in the magazines. My mom refused to let me & I'm forever thankful she didn't.
Growing up in the 90s (pre-Youtube) we didn't have the modern technology or education. We learned from each other and where I was from the solution was LA looks gel and hard hair spray. I scrunched it in to the point where it was stiff and straw like to help tame the beast that was my hair.
Haircuts were a nightmare and there were no curly hair stylists or specialists. I had so many times cried myself to sleep after haircuts that were way too short and made me feel like a poodle. I fought my natural state and fried my hair straight until my first year of college.
Moving to Los Angeles was a beautiful culture shock. I was surrounded by so many confident natural haired women. All shapes, sizes and colors of curls that inspired me to explore my head's potential. I mustered up the courage to go with the big chop and that one haircut changed my whole life.
It was the most liberating and fun experience I had with my hair. I shaved the left side and played with patterns and colors all while letting my curls be natural and free. I felt I was finally able to come into the person I was always meant to be.
You can cut your hair, and it grows back but planting seeds of confidence blossoms forever within. With time and lots of love it magically it becomes apart of you. I'm happy to embrace all the wild curls that makes my hair Poofy!
It has opened up doors for me as a model where I proudly model for curly hair specialists who educate other stylists how to properly cut and style curls. I love being an example for little girls who might have had the same identity issues growing up.
It's been a journey but I've fallen in love with the wild, untamable spirit of my hair. Although a physical part of my being it goes deeper for me. It has become my fiercest feature and moreover a story of self- love and acceptance.
Be you - Let your spirit fly high!