Needless to say, the complicated relationship with my hair has gotten better. It may well be because I am older now. It may also be that my understanding of my identity has deepened. My hair is tied to my identity. My kinky hair keeps me connected to my ancestral roots. I love the way if I wanted to, I could style my hair any way I want. It is also cheaper to use your own hair as opposed to a Brazillian wig or weave.
I remember a time when I could not be caught with my kinky hair.
Before June 2018 when I literally massacred my hair, I spent a small fortune changing my hairstyle every four weeks. Like every African woman I know, I was invested in weaves and braids and no one ever saw my real hair. I developed a pattern that had me removing my weave at the salon and getting a new one straight away.
Some African women are ashamed of their hair like they are of their skin tone.
On the other hand, there is a growing movement of women sick and tired of relaxing or straightening their hair. These women have embraced their natural hair and they are blogging or vlogging about it.
There was nothing wrong with my hair, I just was not used to using my own hair. Everyday. I guess you could say, I couldn’t stand looking at my own face with my natural hair. Unlike Sanaa Lathan who played Violet Jones in Netflix’s Nappily Ever After, my mum had four girls and she found it stressful running us to different salons as children so the barber came home to cut our hair. Things changed in Grade 7 when the school I attended insisted our hair had to be in cornrows, we could not braid. Hating the permanent low cut, the corn rows offered a relief, but after five years I hated cornrows. I have not had my hair in cornrows since then.
For most women, our self-esteem is tied to our hair. But it is.
In a way, mine was. Since I have embraced my own hair, I have felt a certain unhinged freedom to be me. Little things make a huge difference. I even dyed my hair red as a point. I actually love my hair and how I look if I am being honest. It is a journey. It was scary at first. Could I get a job with a low cut? Would employers take me seriously? Would I feel colder in the winter with little or no hair? So many questions.
When our hair looks nice, we feel good about ourselves. Going natural for me has been a journey. It has been a journey of self-acceptance and being at peace with the me I see in the mirror. I have never wanted to be anybody else and I have never believed the braids and the weave made me finer. My problem was always what to do with my hair?
The way out was to cut my very low not like Lupita’s, but low enough so it is easy to comb every morning. There are many blogs and vlogs dedicated to keeping and maintaining kinky hair. The problem is if you have little children, you really don’t have the time to nurse and grow your hair. You really want to be able to get around quickly without stress.
I never had the time. I embraced a low cut. I wish I could write that I have been on this journey longer than June 2018, but I haven’t. I do remember times in my life when I cut my hair low but as soon as it grows, I would get back into my weave. I am thinking this low cut is here to stay. But, this is easy for me. Others spend time making natural products to heal and repair their hair. If that’s you, good for you. Keep going.
The media and Hollywood sell us beauty as white, long straight hair and blue eyes. Beauty is in the eyes of its beholder. I am a black woman. I am beautiful. Just the way I am.
Lupita Nyong’o has said publicly that ‘natural, African, kinky hair – is often painted as uncivilised or wild’. We know that there is nothing wild about kinky hair. Kinky hair is actually sexy. If. you. think. about. it. We should walk in our truth, whatever that is.
Thankfully, in the city of Edmonton help is at hand for ideas and inspiration along your journey. The Edmonton Natural Hair Show (ENHS) inspires people of all ages to embrace their natural hair as part of what makes them uniquely beautiful. They support and strengthen the natural hair community in Edmonton through events and activities by collaborating with local businesses and individuals in the industry such as natural hair specialists, hair stylists and natural hair bloggers. They had their event in April but their Facebook page has a lot of tips and insights on how to grow and maintain kinky hair. Check them out. Also, try Youtube. There are literally thousands of natural hair vlogs to stimulate your creativity.
I am at a place of complete peace within myself with my hair. It may have to do with my age. It may have to do with my deepening understanding of my roots, it does not matter. My kinky is here to stay.
What do you love about your hair?