“You can buy your hair if it won’t grow!”

20150316_084936Very early this year on January 9th I abruptly decided to cut my hair. I was sick and tired of the long silky luscious weaves I’d been wearing since high school. In all honesty I think I’m going through a ‘hair identity’ crisis which is what lead me to cut my hair out of frustration. Every time I’d look in the mirror I hated seeing a weave on my head, I’d ask myself ‘why on earth does my hair look like a white woman’s hair? Why am I trying so hard to imitate what can’t be mine? Why am I wearing this thing that looks like a hat on my head?’ It wasn’t hair anymore, it was a thing. I felt very uncomfortable and unnatural, this was not real. To some extent I also felt limited and trapped. I didn’t know what to do with my hair. All I knew was weaves and twist braids and that’s exactly what I stuck to with every trip to the salon. I really started to detest weaves, those fake plastic synthetic things.

After a great deal of introspection I realised that since I was a child my hair had ALWAYS been relaxed so I never embraced or knew how to maintain my hair in its natural form. When the slightest bit of growth formed it was immediately relaxed either at home or at the salon. I didn’t even give it a chance to shine, well not that it was entirely my choice, mom had a hand in it but she did what she knew. I was tuned to view it as a curse or a burden- this very short tough bushy hair that doesn’t grow. It was ugly. Just disguise it immediately. It took me years to grow my hair to the length it was before I cut it. I hardly  have any pictures of it! Just pictures of weaves, weaves and more fake hair! Like TLC sang ‘you can buy your hair if it won’t grow’ and boy was I buying it!  I also started questioning other things too that have become as normal as weaves, things like false eye lashes, the exaggerated eye brows, the skin deep contouring, waist trainers, but the super long artificial nails and skin bleaching. Everything is just so plastic. We look like Barbie dolls. Why are we so artificial? It’s one thing to enhance but it’s a whole other ball game when people go way over the top to the point where they’re unrecogniseable or they can’t be seen in public without their glam beat on. Where is all of this coming from and why? How are we so brain washed into hating ourselves? Why?  So I decided to take a step back from it all and start again while figuring out what I want and learning who I am in all of this.

img_20150808_130822After I cut my hair into a mowhawk I toned it down a little  with the make up too and took it easy on the hair. At first I was scared to rock not only short hair but an edgy mowhawk but I very quickly loved what I saw in the mirror and I started to feel more natural, comfortable and realistic looking. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I was very happy.

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The mowhawk was a breathe of fresh air though I didn’t like the heat styling, that was very damaging. But before I knew it my hair had started growing back and it grew into a cute little slick back cropped do. That was my favourite part of it all. It gave me character and was so easy to maintain, a little too easy at times.

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Then the wig life hit me. I love wigs! Nothing can beat the joy and relief of taking your wig off after a long day unlike a weave that’s pretty much stuck onto your scalp. I bought two short wigs that I thoroughly enjoyed wearing because I could put it on and take it off whenever I wanted without disturbing  my natural hair. I must say, wigs have evolved over the years, they used to be viewed as something only old people with no hair wore but now they come in any and every style, texture and colour! They last forever! There’s no need to worry about combing and detailed styling in the morning.

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Eventually as my hair grew and I got bored of the wigs I had to protect it from the icy cold winter weather and prevent it from breaking. I wanted a hairstyle that closely imitates my own natural texture in a realistic form. Initially I wanted to try faux locks but not a single stylist knows how to braid them in our small town Witbank (catch up people!) and I sure wasn’t going to make a one and a half hour trip to Joburg just for hair so I settled for kinky twist (also known as Marley twist. I’d imagine that is because they have the rough texture of dreadlocks). I used 3 bundles for 100 bucks each which was mighty pricey considering normal braids go for 15-20 bucks a pack but since the hair is re-useable it’s worth it and it’s super easy to remove. I think as black people we’re going to be going through a lot of identity crisis in many areas of our lives, I say this because some people asked me why I used kinky hair as opposed to the more acceptable silky straight fibre yet some people on the other hand absolutely loved it. To some extent I kinda felt like I was taking a stand, it definitely was different and stood out.

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The next hairstyle after that was a weave believe it or not! Well I chose it because I didn’t feel like spending hours in the salon and my very deep pockets were not on my side. Somehow this time around, after 8 months since the last weave I felt okay wearing one, it didn’t feel like I was wearing a hat on my head. I kept it short though because I am obsessed with short hair!

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And right now I have my hair braided in a super fly 90s medium bob. OMG! The memories this do brought back. I really like it and it makes me look younger.

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I am totally enjoying ‘experimenting’ with my hair now and trying different hairstyles. I’m starting to really appreciate the versatility of my hair instead of seeing it a s a burden. In the past I’d very strategically choose my styles and consider what people would think and the kind of impression it would make. I am no longer buying hair because it won’t grow but buying hair to not only protect my natural hair but to express myself, the same way I do with my clothes. The best part is no matter what you do with your hair it is never permanent. You can have it bone straight waist long today, brush cut short tomorrow, then ombre, then wavy, then faux locks, then purple, curly, … list is endless! It’s all pretty and it doesn’t define who you are. It is just hair and a form of self-expression. I’m actually thinking of cutting again because I don’t feel like I had enough time to really enjoy the short hair phase. That pixie cut was BOMB! Also I’m not so scared to go natural anymore, looks painful but my hair seems to be healthier and stronger in that form. We’ll see!

Wearing a weave doesn’t make you cleaner, smarter, urban, educated, modern, civilised, expensive, exposed or classier. It’s just hair and these stereotypes must fall.

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🔹 🔷 🔹

I am not my hair!

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