“Hi,” she said, and before I had time to reply she had already dug into my neatly pinned up hair.
“WOW! How come it’s soft? What do you put in it?” she looked at me expectantly, like she had just come across a hair Shaman.
I smiled politely and said, “It takes a lot of patience but I will probably come to your church and teach the ladies all about taking care of their natural hair.” And with that she was appeased.
I get a lot of compliments about my natural hair and people often ask me if they can touch it. Having natural hair has been a real boost for my confidence; it makes me feel like I am really being me. It’s authentic, full, and it’s the hair God has blessed me with. Going natural has allowed me to be in total control of what I want my hair to look like and when my hair looks good, I feel great!
After 24 years of life I can safely say I am genuinely happy with my hair. And it really helps that my boyfriend loves it too…to the extent of helping me do it. When I was a child, all mum had to do was switch on the blow dryer and my tears would begin to flow. It was a funeral for as long as she fought to get my hair straight. Of course, when she was done, I would run around flicking my hair and feeling like a black Barbie.
Starting school was the worst: my school only allowed us to have our natural hair. Mum’s solution? She would relax my hair during the school holidays (because relaxer was the in thing back then) and cut it again before school started. To cut a long story short (excuse the pun), I never had long hair and I would stare longingly at my friends’ neatly combed out non-kinky afros. I was often teased about how dark (being called black sunshine–because Kasuba means sunshine–or charcoal) I am and how kinky and ugly my hair is–I ended up believing it.
It wasn’t until two and a half years ago that I decided to embrace my natural tresses. I shaved my head completely in a sort of mini rebellion against the “oppressive” relaxers and weaves that never made me feel quite as hot as they promised I would. Like the time I had been growing my natural hair for six months and then decided to relax it; I ended up having to cut my hair a few days later because it broke, BADLY. I wore my bald head proudly for a year before I discovered that it was possible for me to grow my natural hair naturally and without the hassle of blow dryers (can I get an AMEN?).
Length was never my main aim, but in May I became more and more curious about what length I had achieved in the past one and a half years. So I threw (sort of) my “blower-phobia” out the window and recruited a friend of mine in my pursuit of a length check. She brought along her trusty blow dryer (cringe) and her flat iron.
|Love this pic so much!! – Mandy|
Now, anyone who follows a natural hair regimen will know that heat is not recommended and should be administered as infrequently as possible. Using this reasoning (I’m trying to sound sciency now to feel better), I figured since I hadn’t used heat for over two years, surely I qualify now. I took out the good ol’ coconut oil and applied what I felt was a good enough amount to protect my hair from the heat.
On went the blow dryer and my muscles tensed at the memory of mum combing through my elastic band—because when she stretched it, it went right back—hair. Three hours, very little pain, and very little (noticeable) hair loss later, I had a head of shiny (probably all the coconut oil), flowing, neck length hair.
I hated it.
My hair lacked personality. It was boring. It didn’t do its own thing like my afro does when I let it loose. It just kind of “lay” there being limp. The hair compliments doubled and I was told I should wear my hair straight all the time (what on earth do I look like every other time?!). As bad as this all made me feel, it also made me realise just how little people know about healthy hair and how distorted the image of “good” hair is.
I have fallen in love with my shrunken, kinky, and coily locks and I feel my best when my hair looks that way. As soon as I felt I had gotten my three hours’ worth of heat (two days), I washed the straightness out of my hair like it was some kind of pre-industrial revolution contagion.
How can my hair, as it grows out of my head be called bad? How can anyone call someone else’s hair bad? I now firmly believe that we women should embrace our natural hair as it grows out of our heads: there is no such thing as bad hair and everybody’s hair is different (as it should be).