For Coloured Girls Only? No, I think not . . .

 

Hair hair

I refused to get into the natural hair “debate” because, because, hmmm . . . , because, the fear of backlash for unnatural hair is the beginning of wisdom! Moreover, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, is still lying on my bookshelf unread. What can I add to the conversation biko?

My friend wears her hair natural. I wear weaves and extensions on top my relaxed bone-straight hair, but you figured that out already. When we meet,  she oohs over my hair-do and calls me, hot mama. I look at her kinky-do, and say, “You’re gonna kill someone today!” Then we share what we’re doing in our respective spheres to change the world, buying and selling in serious currency—ideas. We talk about the kids, our men, and all the things that went wrong in Grey’s Anatomy. In other words, we revel in our friendship.

I wish this were true with all my natural-hair friendships. With some of them, after “the sermon,” I want to say, “I am not less of an African woman for choosing Brazilian, Indian, Peruvian, or synthetic hair, and I have nothing to prove or disprove. Touch my hair and I’ll touch yours. Oya, let’s be friends who agree to disagree.” But I keep mum. If age has conferred any wisdom on me, it is this: choose your battles wisely; hair may fall or may grow, turn brown or turn grey, but relationships transcend it all.

Nkem Ivara captures some of my sentiments. I won’t reinvent the wheel, I will just hide behind her natural hair . . .

I read a post on one of the natural hair forums on Facebook yesterday. The lady posted some photos of her hair and claimed she had been natural for 36 months. Turns out she started transitioning in September 2012.

Now I realise Maths is not my strong suit but even I noticed the numbers didn’t add up. My first thought was to point out that she has actually been natural for just 24 not 36 months and I was going to say as much when I stopped myself. I stopped because I had visions of all the comments that would follow. Comments that would accuse of me of not being supportive of a fellow natural. Continue here . . .  

So, while I’m at it, I might as well share this: I am tired of this hair, hair, everywhere.

 

Take lemons, make life & jump for joy!

timi

 

 

 

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52 thoughts on “For Coloured Girls Only? No, I think not . . .

  1. Hair!!! Avocado this, potato that. Mint this, pomegranate that. Paste consistency, honey consistency. Co-wash days, seal in oils…hot oils…moisture soak…and the terminology goes on and on.

    My bathroom used to look like a lazy scientist’s laboratory. Then I found wigs and my life has been several shades of easy, lol!

    The oyinbos go “Oh I love your hair!” I flash a smile and thank them silently wishing for the wind to stop howling.

    As long as curious folks like me continue to give others keyword terms for the next concoction for mammy water hair, there will always be new groups and new releases.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m in stitches @ lazy scientist’s laboratory XD
      You can use hair pins to secure your wig and stop wishing!
      They say change is the only constant in life . . . we’ll see 🙂
      Thanks Maggielola for the laughs!

      Like

  2. I had natural hair until I decided to relax my hair in my third or fourth year at uni. I can’t even remember which it was cos it wasn’t much of a big deal. I couldn’t stay relaxed cos I realized my hair wasn’t as full as I thought it was and mostly cos I was too lazy to go to the salon to touch up and after a while I was back to being natural.

    Sometimes I chop it all off, fix weave braid, tie a scarf, straighten it. It’s all about what I want and I really do feel like that’s all that matters. I don’t get why people are so concerned with other people’s hair. It ain’t that serious.

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    1. “Sometimes I chop it all off, fix weave braid, tie a scarf, straighten it.” I love that we have options.

      You know how when you discover a new toy, you want to tell everyone how superior it is, and how they should buy your brand? You go on and on, until you tire everyone out? 😉 Well I guess it’s hair, there and everywhere!

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  3. I used to pay $300 a month to dye my naturally dark hair blonde. It was craziness as I couldnt afford it. I had my hair highlighted on a trip to London to blend in the greys. It was over $300! The last time I tried to lighten my hair it turned ginger. We women would rule the world if only we didnt spend so much time and money trying to master our hair.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “We women would rule the world if only we didnt spend so much time and money trying to master our hair.” 😀 😀 😀

      Lol, should we all just cut our hair then and get on with ruling the world? I admire your vulnerability, surely the candour of one who has made peace . . .

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  4. The hair debate is tiring. I go natural (well, with relaxers anyway), use weaves and most often than not braids. I love braids, less morning hassle. But I don’t believe I’ll ever go afro. Americannah gave me a push to explore the kinks of the afro hair and o shrunk in terror. Who wants to go through all that routine everyday?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol@ “Who wants to go through all that routine everyday?!” You haven’t seen the ‘light’ 🙂
      You sound as if your style is working for you. I also don’t like hair hassle. A friend cut her hair really low, it’s very low maintenance, but it suits her. Dunno if I could.

      It’s normal to advocate ‘our way’, I suppose that’s why the debate continues, but it’s also good to know when and where to stop. Looking forward to reading Americanah. Thanks Uju.

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      1. I toyed with the idea of going low too, but I haven’t the heart to chop off my not-so-lovely brown tresses.
        About the afro, it really looks good on most people..so if I find a good hairdresser who’ll take my cash to make me look good, I just might try it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, thanks. If we try to argue, fight, respond to everything out there, we’ll grow weary! Someone said relationships are oxygen. I like to build bridges if I can rather than burn them. It sometimes means keeping quiet. What do you think?

      It’s a post about hair, but only on the surface . . . 😉

      Like

  5. I think sometimes conflict is a level of comfort for some people. I learned this, while working for the battered women’s shelter. There were lots of books on the subject, but one part that I read kept with me for quite awhile, something like this: “People who are in rocky relationships get used to them. They aren’t ‘happy’ nor content in a peaceful relationship, until they rock the boat and ruin things.” People never should dare to criticize each other, especially about things like hair, outward appearances… most of it is out of our control!

    If someone gently ‘nudges’ me to do ‘the right thing,’ well, sometimes I need that push!

    I had to remember this, like you mentioned, ‘Pick my battles.’ In my raising my children, I decided my parents allowed a democracy, most of the time, which is rare. We established some rules, we were ‘tougher’ in a lot of ways than our Mom and Dad.
    My hair is thin, my Mom’s been wearing hats for years, some are quite fancy. They cover her very thin hair, where areas of her scalp show through. I dye my hair, try to set it and make it look ‘thicker,’ while thinking, I won’t wear hats, I will buy a beautiful wig, “When I grow old…”
    Smiles!

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    1. Now you mention it, I make the connection between contentious people and living in Conflictville! Battles sap energy, I like to think it’s wise to know which to focus on, so we don’t get drained.

      Isn’t nice to have options for our hair- dyes, hats, and wigs? Whatever works and makes us feel good. I’ve always thought I’d cut my hair when I grow older. Maybe I’ll buy wigs instead 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The equivalent to this relaxed hair vs. au naturel hair styles…for Asians may be some people who dye/bleach their black hair to blonde.

    I see waaaaay too many Asian women my age, dyeing their hair reddish brown. Very few Asians look good in this shade.

    Personally I think a lot of the hair dyes over several decades, is not healthy for the person. The more drastic colour change, the harder it is on the texture of the hair.

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    1. Hi Jean, it’s fascinating for me to learn about the “hair debate” in other cultures and settings. Thanks for sharing.

      I guess it’s whatever works. But what of when it really isn’t working? Who’s going to say, “That hair colour doesn’t flatter you and is damaging your hair texture,” and risk a “mind your business!” reply? I would tell a friend who values my opinion. I would not tell other people; I would try to hold a neutral conversation with them without looking at their hair 😀
      And one day, I would write a story with an Asian character that had dyed her black hair blonde 😉

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  7. I am quite happy, Timi, that guys get to more or less ignore the hair business. I let mine grow until I can’t stand it and then have it cut short. It should go two months. 🙂 Peggy has naturally curly hair, but still it takes a lot of attention. –Curt

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    1. Haha. In Nigeria, there’s a saying: man no dey fine, na money e dey get! Roughly translated, it means that looks don’t make the man, money does. A woman is a work of art from her hair follicles to her toes. Peggy should pay her hair all the attention it deserves as she sees fit. Happy is the patient man! 🙂

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  8. Hey Timi. Hair is a huge subject for all women I think. I can’t stand my hair normal. I dye it because I think it’s mousey brown. It used to be quite blonde. Actually, it would even go white in the summer months. I guess you can say I’m naturally a very dirty blonde. My hair is my cross, so to speak. Apart from the color, I also don’t like the texture. It is very fine, like a baby. As soon as it gets to a certain length I want to cut it because it just hangs there and I look like I’m tired all the time. It has a mind of it’s own.
    I think that each woman should do what she thinks is best. We have just one tiny life. We might as well make the lemondade…
    Great post.
    🙂

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    1. Hi Staci, it’s nice to read a non-African perspective on hair, especially about struggles. As someone noted in one of the comments, it’s hair, there and everywhere! I’m all for putting our best foot forward whether it’s with make-up, hair, clothes, sensibly of course. Yes, let’s make lemonade to suit our taste! Thanks for sharing.

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      1. I know that African woman have quite the deal going on with hair, but you girls also have such great styles and ways to style it. In Brazil there are a lot of African roots and ‘African’ Brazilians. The cosmetic shops have tons of hair products for ‘crespo’ hair. Now I need a good hairdresser here that knows how to deal with my hair, as I’m the odd one.
        That’s hilarious, “It’s hair, there and everywhere.”
        As for putting our best foot forward, I agree with you 100%.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. i have recently switched to natural hair after about 12-13yrs in a happy and committed relationship with dark and lovely relaxers. the change was because i cannot simply ignore the chemicals in the product and the effects they are having on my liver-kidneys-not to mention my scalp. but thankfully, i learnt to do my own hair a long time ago-never go to hair salons ever, so all the styling, steaming and braiding skills i learnt along the way are so useful now with my short springy afro, i can braid my hair and leave it for 3mnths without worrying about split ends and receding hairline.your hair really has nothing to do with being truly ‘African’,although it does define your identity-i agree it is an expression of your self

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    1. Hi Juliesokol, thanks for sharing your hair journey. I like how you phrase it in terms of a relationship. You seem to have come to a place of acceptance and contentment, which makes you sound very confident in your choice. I usually have to be on the go from the crack of dawn and like hair that doesn’t demand too much from me. I enjoy going to the salon, perhaps because I go infrequently. I’ve been with my hairdresser a long time. She cracks me up and thinks I’m boring with my predictable style choices.

      I guess like everything else about us, hair sends a message . . .

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Lol! So, the other day my Indian friend cut her long, lustrous, black hair. We (African girls), looked at her and asked, “Where is it- the part that you cut off?”
          She replied non-nonchalantly, “In the dustbin.”
          We ‘lectured’ her. She now knows not to throw away ‘precious’ commodity 😉
          I suspect that some of us were tempted to visit her dustbin!

          It’s hair, there and everywhere! But as I mentioned in my reply to Diahann’s comment below, “Hair economics is real though; whether natural or unnatural; whether shea butter or relaxer, someone is smiling all the way to the bank.” 😉

          Like

  10. It is interesting that hair, like other parts of the female body can be a source of conflict and divisiveness. I wonder if this is something that women set upon each other when it comes to hair or again a byproduct of the wider society? I think your hair looks beautiful.

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    1. You know, until the “Natural Hair Renaissance” among women of African descent, I had not noticed the conflict, not really. I have not given it much thought, so I can’t say whether it’s something that women set upon each other when it comes to hair or a byproduct of the wider society. In some quarters the advocacy goes beyond the health benefits and spills into race politics. Hair economics is real though; whether natural or unnatural; whether shea butter or relaxer, someone is smiling all the way to the bank 😉

      Like anything that’s trending, it’s very in your face. I take exception to ‘militant conversion methods’ As the post in the blog link says, live and let live.

      Thank you Diahann for your interest. I wrote another post about hair dynamics between races. In response to one of the comments, I wrote, “I have grown to love the versatility of my hair, its strength, resilience, mirroring something of me. Mostly, I am at peace with my hair and different things about life. This makes me more tolerant . . .” https://livelytwist.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/i-am-africa-and-no-you-cannot-touch-my-hair/

      Whatever I’m advocating for, I hope I can somehow connect bridges instead of burning them.

      Like

  11. Free choice for sure, that is what we struggled for 50s-70s. It was a proud day when many of us loved being ourselves, natural as possible in many unnatural life experiences. We accepted being as black is, same as being as white as white is. Most of all, I did appreciate when men stopped putting lye to their hair– sorry Al Sharpton your hair is a flashback to days of struggle loving our natural gifts.

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    1. From your comment, it sounds as though it was a special time indeed. Joy fills our hearts when what we struggle for is realized.

      Is it perhaps possible that wanting to look a certain way, in this case, wanting your hair a certain way, has more to do with personal preference and less to do with self-acceptance? That my desire for long wavy hair, for example, may be because I admire the bounce I see in another’s hair and want that for myself?

      Earlier in the comments, someone mentioned “switching lanes.” I like that my hair is versatile and I have several options.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s hair, there and everywhere! I’ve learnt to style mine in a variety of ways & I generally love each way. I have sworn off relaxers (hate the chemical burns) it’s nothing to do with being black or not white – I just like the fact that I don’t actually need them to style my hair.
    There are mornings (armed with Shea butter & an Afro pick) when I look in the mirror & say ‘Hair I go’ (pardon the pun!) determined to give it a whirl or a twist as the case may be and then think to myself – this is so not working!
    Other times, however, it just works.
    It’s hair, it’s there, it’s everywhere!

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    1. Lol@ “Hair I go” 😀

      I guess it’s whatever works. I cut my hair once and went natural before the “Natural Hair Renaissance”. I’d just had a baby, the nearest salon was far away, etc, etc, and I didn’t need the stress of trying to figure how to fix my hair. Whatever works, it’s hair, it’s there, it’s everywhere! Thanks for being here! I like shea butter in my bath and body products.

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  13. Thanks for that mega-link. The piece was hilarious.

    When it comes to personal choices about hairstyle, fashion, hobbies, whatever, I use these words (out of context) from the immortal Madonna: “Come on baby, express yourself.”

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    1. You’re welcome. She gave me the “courage” to take a poke at the hair debate 😉

      “Come on baby, express yourself,” and I like to think, within limits . . . ha, ha, now you know I can be a party pooper 🙂

      Like

        1. Eric!!!! I’m laughing because of the image your words evoke 😀 Little children giggling and pointing. Reminds me of the story by Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Excerpt:

          “But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

          “Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

          “But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

          The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

          Talk about express yourself! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  14. These posts and the comments they generated were very interesting indeed. I think peer pressure is worse now, thanks to social media. There is this strong pressure to align compulsorily with one side of a divide: Atheism vs Religion, Literary Fiction vs Genre Fiction … natural hair vs extensions?

    Choice. Key word. Variety is still the spice of life. Last time I checked, freedom of expression is still a jealously guarded inalienable right of humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, advocacy. We are all guilty of advocating the things we love or believe in. Nothing wrong with that, until you enter my space and suffocate me with it 🙂

      I read a post about truth the other day, and I left this comment:
      “If we did not try to club each other to death with our version of the truth, perhaps we would have fewer problems? But in a society with different ‘truths’ the race for supremacy can be deadly!”

      Beyond hair, (because Samuel, you make me broaden the conversation every time), how do I use my freedom of expression without being obnoxious? Even if I believe my way is the only way, not everyone agrees, and that’s okay . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What can I say when this is womanly affair. I know a lady who never used attachments or weegs on her hair till date and I equally have a sister who can not do without those two….not even for a naming ceremony. This does not make the former more afrocentric or africanna than the later neither has it earn her the award of PBA(patriotic black African)……….just thinking aloud….peace

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Been a short hair girl for a while now. Keeping it natural all the way. I took this route around that time last year when I was reinventing myself.

    Before that I was a die hard long hair lady, straightened and everything. And boy, did I look good? Maybe one day I will go back to it but right now am sticking with the refreshing feel of water hitting my scalp every evening. Something I couldn’t indulge in when I had breakage issues to worry about.

    Extensions though, are not my thing. Overall, whether you keep it natural or not, it’s just hair. And a little lane switching never hurt anyone.

    To be honest, I didn’t know hair could be a volatile issue. At least, it isn’t here in Uganda.

    “I am not less of an African woman for choosing Brazilian, Indian, Peruvian, or synthetic hair, and I have nothing to prove or disprove….” Thank you Timi. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Overall, whether you keep it natural or not, it’s just hair. And a little lane switching never hurt anyone.”

      Live and let live 🙂 I might switch lanes too, who knows?
      Chimamanda says black hair is political. What! You don’t like “hair politics” in Uganda? 😀

      Like

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