If you’re coloured girl with “not-so-nice” hair, you’ve been through the ringer whenever you’ve gone to a hairdresser.
I was 12 years old when it happened. I had decided that I wanted my hair done for my first Holy Communion.
They took one look at me and told me I needed a relaxer because my hair was “just a bit coarse, you know”.
Eventually I caved and wanting to fit in, I started going to the hairdresser up the road from my house regularly. It soon became clear from these visits that having straight hair was the standard beauty ideal, not my natural hair.
The pervasive idea that light eyes, light skin and straight hair = beautiful is steadfast in the coloured community.
We cling to Eurocentric ideals, making sure that mothers tell their precious lightskin sons not to bring home a girl who’s too dark. That it’s okay to date someone white but maybe not bring home someone black?
That boys (and girls) tear down your self esteem bit by bit because how dare you have kroes hair and be confident?
How dare you feel desirable when you’re dark-skinned? Beauty in the coloured community is steeped in anti-blackness and it’s time we acknowledge that.
This harmful narrative was enforced by my then friends, classmates and the boys I liked at the time.
I only went natural at around 21/22. After years and years of chemical and heat damage, I gave up and got tired. I started my natural journey after being inspired by the women I saw on campus (s/o to Danielle Bowler!).
I believe black and brown women should be able to do as they please with their hair, going natural was liberating for me.
But back to the hairdresser story. Once I went natural, my haircare process became very DIY. After years of really terrible experiences, including a chemical burn at the back of my scalp from a relaxer left on too long – I was done. But I am a lazy natural hair gal and eventually I needed to chop off the dry bits. So I asked around, got a stellar recommendation via Twitter and booked an appointment.
And when I got into the salon, it was the first time a stylist called my natural hair beautiful. I was so shooketh because I realised that it was the first time any hair stylist had called my hair something positive. It got called kroes, coarse, hard to manage and thick. Imagine that, waiting a solid 14 years before a hair professional validates your natural hair?
I needed a haircut to signify a new chapter of my life and for once I knew I was in the right hands.
My hair journey has come full circle. I look like I did when I was four years old. Even my mother pointed it out.
One day we’ll stop calling these “typical” coloured features, ugly. They’re beautiful. Just like my hair is.