Hair is a very important part of our lives. Some choose to get rid of it and others choose to grow it. Some of my good friends like to say that hair can take a girl from a 5 to 10 (not that I rate, rating women). But even in primary school I remember that the girls with the longest hair were considered the most attractive.
Beautiful hair is typically honey blonde, straight, long with some beach girls. You know that kind of Goldilocks look. You will often be left for ‘Becky with the good hair’ not always but sometimes, if you know you know. Obviously, my hair is neither blonde, long or wavy and so I never thought of my hair as beautiful.
Growing up, I would make a visit to the salon every two weeks in order to get my hair washed, blow-dryed and plaited ready for school. My go to hair style was ‘mlazo’ ,some ugly cornrows that had no design and emphasized the ‘kisogo’ back of your head. I loved it so much because it only take 15 mins to get them plaited, meaning my trips to the salon would be short. My sister and mum detested them with a passion and would complain every time I got them done.
On special occasions, I would spice things up and plait pussy cat, pineapple or half lines and half rastas. The best was during holidays when I got to wear Da brat with coloured rubber bands. Dont you just love the names of the hairstyles.
Trips to the salon were horrific because of the pain. Hairdressers were not educated on how to deal with natural hair , they never wet or detangled the hair, they just combed it. The pain was so bad that I would feel it in my feet. I would cry as the salonist barbecued my hair with that red blow dryer every salon had. Whenever I complained about the pain the hairdressers would say “Urembo ni Uchungu” translating to Pretty Hurts”. I often recieved a barber threat, if I did not stop crying, so eventually I learned to hold in the tears.
Black girls get their attitude from the pain they endure whilst getting their hair done as young girls.
On occasion, my aunty (mum’s younger sister) would plait our hair i.e. my cousins and I. We dreaded it so much that we would hide the combs just so that we did not have to endure her plaiting. My mum however always come to the rescue as she somehow always carried an extra comb in her handbag and so we’d end up enduring the torture.
I remember begging my mum to get a relaxer, the first time she tricked me. I went to the salon thinking I was getting a relaxer but turns out it was just a hair treatment. I remember going to school and bragging to other girls that I got a relaxer only for one girl to burst my bubble.
Fast forward to when I was much older I finally got a relaxer (chemical that straightens your hair) for easier maintenance and for a more ‘professional look’. I wore my hair relaxed up until December 2015. Over the winter break whilst back in Kenya I had my last relaxer. After I got it, I was filled with regret and made the decision to transition to natural hair.
Initially I intend to transition for two years before the big chopped but then handling the two textures became unbearable ( tbh the relaxed ends at the back of my head fell off) .
I made the decision to big chop on the 4th March 2017. A good friend on mine, who happens to also be natural chopped it off for me.
” A woman who cuts her hair is about to change the world”.
Chopping off my hair was liberating but so scary at the same time! I was scared that I would look like a young boy and so I wore hoops to look feminine.
I was afraid that the texture of my hair would not live up to society’s standards. I was scared that no one would want to hire me because of the way me hair looked. I was scared that people would look at me differently and treat me as exotic!
But thankfully, the number of black women that choose to wear their hair natural has massively increased making it more acceptable to wear hair out in an afro.
We do not go natural, we return to it. Natural is where it began.
Cutting my hair has been a political statement for me, I understand that my hair was created to grow upwards, it was not intended to be straight. So every day, I fall deeper in love with my coils and curls. It has also been an educational experience for me as I have learned the correct way to handle my hair through friends and naturalistas on YouTube. Two years ago I said i’d never go natural but see God! I know proudly wear out my 4C hair.
I’d challenge you all to think about why you wear your the way you did.
Till next time,