It seems like just yesterday I forced myself to stop hiding behind the various head gears that seem to be sold on every street corner - weaves, wigs, extensions and of course, my beloved turban. These were just a few of the things I used to stop myself from having to deal with my own afro and also prevented me from having to face what I believed would be negativity on a daily basis.
Now, don’t get me wrong guys, I LOVE my extensions. They take a few days to put in (depending on the size) but when they’re in... The numb bum is so worth it! And my turban. Let’s just say, if I start talking about her, I won’t stop. But really, why do we decide to cover up what all other ethnicities flaunt so proudly? It’s just hair, right? WRONG. It’s so much more than that! It’s an expression of our personalities and a shining beacon to everybody we come in contact with, conveying the fact that we take care of ourselves, that our appearance is important and that we’re individual and unique in our own right.
But let’s face it. Maz and I aren’t here to lie to you guys. It feels ten times easier when you can just stick your braids in a bun and bounce at a moments notice! You don’t have to think about sealing the ends with Shea Butter. You don’t have to think about how much growth you’ve had. You don’t even have to bother doing the whole wash routine which normally, you’d be planning days ahead! Time is saved and now, your fingers won’t cramp up at the thought of detangling your afro. A job made slightly more difficult due to shrinkage (grrr).
But one day, after taking out my braids, I suddenly thought to myself, “What would happen if I was to go out like this? No braids, weaves or anything?” I had to stare for a long time and imagine the faces of people when they saw me approach. In my head they all seemed to laugh and point at me! (The serious kind of laugh too… Tears coming outta their eyes and everything.) After staring for what seemed like an eternity, it seemed worth it to just give it a try. What harm could it do? If it all went down the toilet and I couldn’t face it, Mariama would be there to re-introduce me to my braids and life would be “normal” again.
So there I was. For the first time since my last relaxer, I faced my hair in its new state. I was still ready to chicken out and call in sick for work the next day until I realised I had no choice but to go in. A simple roll, tuck and pin was all I could do in the short time I had designated to my hair that morning, (it would take longer than I had planned) but after a second stare (you can tell I enjoy looking at myself in the mirror lol) I actually didn’t look all that bad! I made it a point to watch the faces of everyone that I came in contact with that morning and honestly, nobody really cared! I had to wonder why I thought they would. Because it was such a big deal to me, I assumed it would mean the same to everyone else. It sounds stupid, I know, but these were the thoughts racing through my head.
A month later and I do get the odd questions from colleagues but I’m so comfortable in myself that it doesn’t bother me. “Why is your hair not done?!” Erm… This is my hairstyle guys! “Aren’t you going to relax it? *GASP* Why not?!!” Of course, people will never understand what they aren’t a part of but that’s a whole ‘nother story and it’s a long’un!
It’s so easy to be brought down by the negative comments you get from people. It’s actually worse when people don’t realise that what they say can be seen as hurtful but in some ways, it helps me to realise that this natural hair journey is truly a JOURNEY. I’ve learnt so much about myself that I never realised existed or mattered. Now it’s just about sitting back and awaiting results. Well, not so much sitting back. Mostly moisturising and detangling but you get my drift. Stay empowered by what you have guys. It’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth it.
Oh BTW, I just realised how melodramatic this may sound to the readers that have had their hair out all their lives, haha. This is just my story and I thought it could help those of you in the same situation. It’s really not as easy as it seems!