Recently, I have been wearing my hair in it’s natural state. It has been such an interesting journey, fraught with so many discoveries about myself and the people around me. It takes strength I tell you and a level headed idea of what you are about.Firstly, I will start by saying this, it is really not that deep. How we choose to wear or not wear our hair shouldn’t really be such a deep topic to be taken so seriously! Sadly, it is. We are judged by how our hair looks, how it frames our faces and what we do with it. Also, we as individuals, rate our self worth based on these factors as well.
Wearing my hair in it’s natural state was not a conscious choice. I had just come out of a series of really exciting hair colours, where my hair was a big part of my self expression. In the past, I had dabbled with a wide range of hairstyles. It ranged from big and curly through to cropped and edgy, intense blue and punk rock, right through to bleached blonde and shaved at the side. I tried all the afore mentioned and so much more.
There I was one morning, staring at my cropped natural hair in front of the mirror. My hair had broken quite badly from my last dye job, I had to sort of start afresh. Something struck me, I stared at my hair and my unfamiliar reflection in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. Years of weaves and braids and all sorts of artificial hair coverings had me looking upon my natural haired silhouette in disdain and may I say rejection. I looked in the mirror with a deep feeling of despair and even at that moment, I knew the feeling wasn’t right.
I stiffened my shoulders and spoke to the image in the mirror. I said out loud with my teeth gritted hard and a steely look in my eyes, I shall fix this! I shall wear my hair just like it is. I am beautiful with the hair I was born with, I am beautiful without the long cascading weaves, I am beautiful even if I have no hair. I shall walk with my head held high, my shoulders raised, a light feeling in my heart and a deep embracing love for the woman the Lord created in this hair.
…..and this my darling Zinkata readers became my journey. A journey of self discovery. A journey of falling in love with Ezinne sans the hair covering. A journey of feeling powerful as I watched my nappy natural hair slowly rise in eminence and fill my heart with so much pride and peace at being a proud black woman at such a time as this. It is so liberating! Not always easy mind you, as we are still not free of our prejudices and beliefs.My natural hair journey has taken me on a totally new discovery. On how it is perceived by everyone and what the newspapers and TV has dictated as the norm and how far gone we are in accepting that ours is actually not mainstream and theirs(borrowed silhoutte) is.
I have a black tie event to go for. I head to the salon and I say to the hair dresser, “Hello, I have a major event to go for and I would like to style my hair”. She automatically goes, “what colour of weavon would you like to fix? Black or Brown and do you want it long, curly or silky”. I look on and very quietly let her know that I would be wearing my hair as it is and could she kindly manipulate it in its natural state? Silence from the hairdresser. Then she goes, “Gulp.. Err.. Okay, let’s try. What about I put some natural hair extensions to make it higher so it can be more glam, so it can have more effect?”. I speak up again smile and tell her how I wish to work with exactly what’s on my head, and if it is possible for her to very kindly manipulate my hair in its current state to look “glam”?
My hair length is enough. It is also glam, it is also elegant, can we work with what we have please?
I have absolutely nothing against extensions, weaves, relaxers, braids and everything else. I may do a total turn in 5 months and go back to my die hard experimental hair phase, but how about right now whilst I am in this journey, owning my hair and loving it just the way it is. How about challenging the status quo and doggedly sticking to who we are naturally and not thinking that wearing weaves and extensions is actually more normal than wearing our own hair. The point I am trying to drive home is this: People argue about weaves and extensions and how there is freedom to express your hair however you wish to and about there been nothing wrong with going 28 inches long and blond if you wish to or 8 inches short and dead straight bone china Acid Green, if you wish to. I absolutely agree with that, as I have been there before as well. My question to them is: Whilst you are exploring all these silky dead straight hair or curly unrealistically big fros, have you at anytime worn your hair? Can you for the love of God be caught dead with your own hair permed or otherwise. Would you wear your hair just as it is naturally to an event? Do you feel like you have to fix up your hair and cover up your hair in its natural state because you have an important event to go for, and only leave your hair to breathe when nobody “important” is going to see you? Dearest sister if the answer is yes to the above, we need to fix this up. We are free to wear weaves, but the pertinent question here is, “Are we slaves to the weaves?”. Are weaves the only way out? Have we fallen in love with ourselves without the weaves? Do we wear our natural hair and still function confidently? Are we brainwashed into fusing our beauty ideals with what is seen in the glossy magazine pages, tv and social media ?
Could this be a by blow of colonisation? Where we feel what we are isn’t good enough and our Black is inferior?
..I am not here to judge or sound preachy. I am only here to push for our own! Ours is good too!
I speak to ladies with gorgeous big bountiful afros. I watch them weave it in tight cornrows and then proceed to whip out long silky wigs to wear instead. Why? I ask, Your hair is so beautiful, how come I have never seen it? Often I get responses along these lines, “Ah, I can’t wear it to work like this. They will complain. Once I wore my natural hair to work and the HR department told me it didn’t look professional. I had to go and wear a weave”. This is a problem. It is a situation that needs to be discussed. The prejudice and lack of acceptance of “black-hair” goes much farther than we even imagine. Long silky hair let loose is fine for board meetings but a nice bountiful luscious afro is unprofessional? How do we explain this?
We are afraid to wear our hair in its natural state because our significant other or love interest prefers us in wigs and weaves and easy soft extensions. I can’t fault them that! Society has slow and surely brainwashed us all into thinking that it is the one and only way we should wear our hair to look beautiful. Many times, I speak to women and they go, “Oh my husband saw me with my natural hair and he hated it!.I had to go and fix a weave”.
..What are we teaching our young girls about their natural hair and ideals of beauty?
I have succedded in falling in love with myself in my natural state. I no longer think twice about wearing my hair for important events. It was a slow and torturous journey but I can finally say I love my hair and the image in the hair. I may get bored and throw on a weave in the not too distant future, for convenience or depending on how I feel. This I believe is besides the point. What matters is this, “I love my own hair and can wear it uninhibitedly”.