It’s been a minute since I wrote up anything new or was even in the mood to blog. I often get really tired of content (reading/writing or conceptualizing digital content can be a drag – especially when it’s your day job too).
But I had a moment this weekend, last night actually, thinking about my hair.
In my community and beyond – it was drilled into me, from around age twelve, that straight hair was the norm. I, however, had something very far from that.
Luckily, my mom had bountiful curls and tried to maintain my natural hair for as long as possible. I had an afro, cornrows, twists and plaits as my mother got more and more creative with her hands. She poured coconut oil and other hair treatments while doing my hair and we bonded whenever she sat down to plait. It was a pretty rad experience.
I felt beautiful as one could at ten but that all changed when I moved back to PE. I was at a smaller school and my hometown didn’t take kindly to change (or difference) at the time. I constantly heard that I had “lots of hair” or that I had “difficult” hair to style. Hairdressers wanted to tame these poor follicles and often didn’t succeed.
Speaking from a place of experience, the coloured community has serious colourism and pigmentocracy issues. The whole lighter you look, the more exotic your features are trope was something that was reinforced by elders and peers alike. That in itself is another story, that can’t be unpacked in one singular blogpost, shem.
The beauty ideal focused on having Eurocentric features, so you know lighter skin tones, long straight hair and ”exotic” eyes meant you were automatically prettier. After all, you didn’t look like everyone else – you were special, a genetic anomaly. Something to be idolized.
I spent time and time again hoping my brown eyes would maybe change to be a shade lighter or my hair wouldn’t be as frizzy. How damaging, right?
I often would look at my hair and cry. I wanted nothing more to look like I was somewhat attractive according to some convoluted standard. Hours and hours spent at salons, under hairdryers and in chairs simply instilled the notion that you “had to suffer for beauty”
I only started embracing my natural hair at 21. You read correctly, 21 years old. Not even fresh in varsity but almost as I was about to graduate. That’s just close to a decade of feeling hideous bc my follicles didn’t resemble what I saw in a Cosmo.
I started wearing my hair naturally and the compliments poured in. I looked a whole lot better (and felt more confident) with a big ol’ ‘fro. Natural hair doesn’t make me better than anyone else, but it’s better for me.
I also had to realise that women (and mainly women of colour) can style their hair any which gotdamn way they want. Accepting your beauty in a world where you aren’t recognized often enough is an act of self love.
So whether you have a weave,dreads, a huge afro, a slick fade, twists or invest in the state of the art GHD – you’re allowed to express yourself as you please. Me finally being able to wear my hair however I want is an act of self love. I am a walking, talking, breathing radical act of acceptance, man.
My hair journey came full circle. And I won’t let anyone make me feel like shit for it again.