Alright, let’s talk about hair! Don’t worry, I am not going to go all Chimamanda on you, even though to a large extent, I agree with her perspective (Chimamanda Adichie, since her last novel, Americanah, has been very vocal on her stand; saying that hair is political and how black women chose to wear their hair is very important). As much as I agree with her, I cannot exert my stand because even though I think natural is commendable, I also believe that for some of us (especially women), our natural forms just isn’t sufficient. In our natural forms, we are conscious of all our physical flaws; our eyebrows and eyelashes just aren’t full enough, so we add eyeliners and mascara or even artificial eyelashes. Our face lacks colour, so we add a little lipstick, lip liner, eye shadow or blush. Our hair not full or long enough, so we add extensions. Modern medicine has even provided more options on enhancing and changing our physical features on a more permanent scale with nose jobs, breast and butt implants, just to mention a few. I am a girl who understands her physical flaws, hence, loves her makeup, so I haven’t earned the right to say I am an all-round pro-natural (Even though I wish I were and respect those who are comfortable with themselves enough to be all natural; no enhancement or filters). Nevertheless, I do agree that hair is a different issue, i.e, from Chimamanda’s racial-political perspective where a black woman could describe herself in her natural kinky hair as having a ‘bad hair day’. I am inclined to agree that such view is controlled by an underlining thought that says natural kinky hair isn’t beautiful.
Over the years, since I grew up and began to exercise my own rights on how I choose to wear my hair (that is my way of saying, since I rescued my hair from my mother *haha*), I have exploited a lot of options. I have gone long, short and medium length. I have also coloured my hair, red, brown, wine-red etc. I didn’t have enough patience for my hair; hence, it was more of a burden than anything else and I was constantly trying different styles/colours to make me appreciate it better. I have always believed that a woman’s hair is a very important aspect of herself , after all, the bible does say, it is a woman’s glory. If you really want to think about it, reflect on a woman getting dressed up. She has her hair all covered in a towel or a hair cover of some sort, she’s done with the facial makeup but still feels odd. Once her hair is all made up, viola! The difference is clear; her facial look comes out better. Simple English, your hair can make or break your appearance.
About two years ago, I decided to try something different with my hair; I decided to go on dreadlocks. So I cut my hair and turned it into dreads. It was a rigorous, relatively expensive process, but I am happy to say that my hair has grown into full-blown dreads and is still growing. Even happier to declare, I love my hair!!!!!!! I now have a shameless love affair with my hair and I am loving every minute of it. My hair has stopped being a burden and is now my glory!!! Yes I said it.
So am at the petrol station the other day, an attendant asks me, ‘is that all your hair?’ and I say yes. He goes ‘It’s lovely’. I know how to take a compliment plus I get that a lot from dread lovers *winks*, so I say ‘thank you’. However, I sense this is more of an opening than a compliment and being my natural curious self I ask, ‘but?’ and he says ‘but it (dreads) doesn’t make you look responsible’ (For some reason he thinks that by declaring this profound thought, he has just imparted a great wisdom). I take no offense because I also get this stereotypical view a lot. Not really in the mood nor having the time for a debate, I just laugh and say ‘ummm’
This is where the controversy lies; some people (am refraining from saying most Nigerians) have an opinion on how I carry my hair i.e dreadlocks. Most of these opinions are drawn from the stereotypical view of watching too many reggae musicians, hence they believe that dread is an irresponsible hairstyle (another way of saying, it says, you are high on something). Some other people just assume that to dread your hair, you have to an extrovert, a bold and adventurous person. All these assumptions from just a hairstyle; impressive! *haha*. I have had someone (She knows herself) actually tell me that I would have to do away with my dreads if I want a job in the corporate world in Nigeria *ridiculous*!
Okay, let’s analyse this for a minute; with dreads, my hair is all my hair; no extensions, nothing artificial, no weaves. It is sectioned into strands just like braids and has the look of braids, only difference is that, it is in its authentic kinky form. So question: if my hair is natural; in its true kinky form and it can be packed altogether for a professional setup or styled professionally, why then is it not suitable for the corporate world? Oh! And this same view isn’t expressed for those who have artificial dreads fixed on their hair!!! Am I then to assume that wearing artificial hair is more recommendable? Again, ridiculous! Need I emphasize, that I have nothing against weaves and extensions; I just don’t get the logic that would recommend weaves, permed hair (chemically induced hair) against dreads and natural African hair, in its true form. With this view sub-consciously ruling this sort of opinion, its no wonder that Chimamanda’s view on hair has pointed out its political implications; where weaves and straight hair are the accepted definition of beauty (Consciously or subconsciously). Oh well, I promised not to go all Chimamanda on you.
Bottom line, I love my hair with its locks and in its natural kinky form (and no, I am not an artist of any sort). Saying I can’t wear my hair like this in a professional setup, or even worse, tagging my hair as inappropriate or irresponsible, is not only hilarious but critically baseless. Like I said, natural is commendable and kinky is full, rich, African and most certainly, beautiful…
- Book Review : Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (doindubai.com)
- Americanah (ayibumakolo.com)
- Kinky Coily Love Natural Hair Spotlight- Ro’shunda (Creator of ‘Natural Hair Bride’) (kinkycoilylove.wordpress.com)
- The Natural Hair movement (claraislike.wordpress.com)