And the lessons I am learning through it…
Every black woman who is at the age to articulate her feelings has a story about her hair. Some love and celebrate theirs while others hate it. Many hide it, while others fearlessly flaut theirs and others prefer no hair at all. Sometimes it boils down to choice and other times it’s not so simple.
However, as I grow I am learning to appreciate that our hair is glorious, in all it’s textures, shades, lengths and styles. I never always felt this way about my hair, as the maintenance of it didn’t always feel pleasant. If it wasn’t my mother squeezing my 5 year old self between her legs to start my weekly protective do for school, it was the relaxer that was always very unkind to my scalp, or worse still, the heaviness of my head after a 6 hour stretch of braiding at the salon or even a burnt ear or two from the hot comb. Seriously, the list of injuries and horror stories is too long to recount.
As a result, at age 19, I decided that the work required to grow my hair and keep it looking decent was far too much for me and so I decided to chop it and keep it at a length which only required washing once a week, moisturizing every other day and painful but regular combing.
After 5 years, I decided to give the hair growth journey another go and here I am today, with a healthy little afro which would never have made it without the dedicated hands of my mother, barber and stylists.
Anyone who’s on this journey or has taken on the challenge of maintaining natural (chemically untreated hair) has a few lessons they can share about their hair, for now though, here are four lessons that have stood out to me on this year long journey.
1. Effort and work will always be a requirement
There’s absolutely no escaping this one because even if it looks and feels simpler, some form of work and effort is always required to make a hairstyle/ look work. Although there were less steps required in this part of the process, they were there and needed to be honoured. This initial chop, after many years also gave me the courage to start a fresh, much like how Coco Chanel once said, ‘a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life’
2. You’re always allowed to explore other options
These have come in the form of wigs and head wraps over the years.
3. Most times you get out what you put in
The process of growing my hair back has taught me the art of working with my hair and not against it, loving it even when I’m feeling as if it’s not co-operating with me. From watching the journey’s of others I have seen that often times your hair much like everything in life will usually reflect the love, kindness and patience you put into it.
I am still on the journey and still committed to loving this process.