I am at peace with my hair. It took time and there are still moments when I keep asking myself why it doesn’t grow as fast as I would like it to, why it doesn’t do things I want it to do. But after two big chops in less than a year, the strong emotional connexion I had with my hair became more reasonable let’s say.
I am not a product-junkie anymore, I stopped looking for the product that would make my curls bounce perfectly, and I am also done with the extensive list of chemicals I used to put in my hair.
Even though all these phases are behind me now I understand how important they were as they helped me experiment and understand my natural hair: an important process that is often overlooked in a world where finding ways to have the loose curl pattern seems to be more important than having healthy coils.
Two things triggered the transitioning process: the most obvious would be the numerous hair tutorials I could find on Youtube. The second one is more personal I believe, as more linked to a change in my personality, to my own evolution.
As a former shy individual, being invisible was what I aspired to in my secondary school years. I would therefore dress in oversized black clothes, wouldn’t talk much, and would straighten and/or relax my hair to make sure that no one could notice these curly strands, and therefore notice me.
Being a mixed-race girl not ticking any of the good type of mixed-race stereotype boxes (think white passing/racially ambiguous, with long golden loose curls, light eyes, and a curvy figure) made it even more difficult for me to fit in.
Thankfully, things started to change when I entered in my twenties, a period when I became more vocal, opinionated, and less scared with the idea of being seen and noticed. I was becoming a strong woman and wanted people to see it!
My hair was a simple representation of this change: from relaxed curls to blow-dried hair – from blow-dried curls to wavy strands – from wavy strands to full natural at age 22.
Now about to turn 30 I had plenty of time to consider, research and read about the reasons that made us believe that our hair is a problem. And even though our curls and coils are more accepted in today’s society, I keep thinking that there is such a long way to go!
When was it again that a ban on afro hair was being implemented in a South African school? When was it that a French gossip magazine compared curly hair to armpit hair? When was the last time you wondered if a bun might be more appropriate than your afro to attend this job interview? When was the last time a colleague put a hand in your hair until he/she could reach your scalp to check if this glorious afro of yours was real?
So yes, things aren’t great but yet they are improving, mostly thanks to women like Jamelia Donaldson, founder of Treasure Tress, Lekia Lee, Founder of the Project Embrace, or even Grace Miranda Sutton, Creator of the Googgle event series Calling All Curls.
However, even with the positive representation that these ladies (among many others) are implementing and sharing with the world, many women and girls still struggle to embrace their natural hair. To you if you are reading, I simply encourage you to try and experiment.
It might take a long time, but trust me, the result will be so worth it!