For as long as I can remember I have had a love-hate relationship with my hair. It’s like for most of my life there was a quiet acceptance that there was something wrong with my locks.Whenever there was a wedding or special event, the stretching comb (hot comb) always came out . On other occasions it was some super market relaxer ( this was before dark ‘n lovely reached the African shores.) I even recall my first, and only perm and how boys looked at me differently then.
Like my mother , my hair was often kept in a short natural style. I had the occasional salon relaxer, braids and corn rows but I always went back to my short hair. But even I couldn’t resist the allure of all the new relaxers that were coming out. I was seventeen and my hair was long and natural then and I remember certain members of my family ( who’s names shall not be mentioned :)) explaining to me how lovely I would look. Sadly, even I though at the time that I looked lovelier but it was expensive and thus maintaining it was difficult. Growth was an ugly word when I was on a relaxer, never mind I actually wanted my hair to grow. But I became addicted to the supposed “ease” of styling it and the feeling that there was so much more I could do with my hair.
Thereafter I discovered weave s and my head of hair was opened up to more experiments. It was only when I got pregnant with my daughter that I decided to go natural. I hadn’t been natural since I was in Uni , and even then it was a just a short spell in order to grow my hair after a very damaging hairstyle.
Maybe the hormones helped but somehow I loved the hair. And thus began the change in my view of my hair. I love my hair but I realise I am only just getting to know it, to understand it and most importantly to care for it. I still have a few bad habits but overall I am learning to embrace it. I still braid it a lot and have the occasional weave but my hair will remain natural. A bigger part of that decision came from realising that it grew quicker and stronger naturally; any other thoughts are work-in-progress.
The Afro hair has come back into the spotlight with a lot of women choosing to wear their hair naturally. This has then raised questions and arguments about weaves and relaxers. Arguments I am not really interested in. For a long time I felt like my hair was a menace and unlovable; I just don’t have the time nor energy to worry about someone else’s choices as I try to erase the lies and hurt I put my hair through. My attention is fully on my hair and my daughter’s .
There is a general feeling that Afro hair is a fad. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But what I do know is what my intentions are with my own. We are living in a society that is probably, more culturally open than it’s ever been . When you were your hair naturally you are prone to a lot of questions. Sometimes, the questions are annoying and exasperating but I realise that whatever I tell them will be taken as as gospel . One thus has an unwilling responsibility of being “spokesperson” of Black girls’ hair. What I do know though, is that a question signifies curiosity and interest and an answer breeds knowledge. Whatever information I give about my hair goes into a knowledge pool. I have a responsibility to ensure that information is authentic.
So whatever your choice of hair be authentic with it, love it and wear it with pride. Having a weave or relaxer doesn’t stop you from being authentic about your hair neither is natural hair synonymous with authenticity. Being aware of the products you choose and how you apply them to your beautiful crown and embracing those choices, that’s authentic! I’m on a journey with my hair and all other parts of me. There’s so much about my hair that’s so much about me and as I learn more about what I really want for my hair , I learn a lot about what I really want for myself.