The frustrations of natural afro-textured hair are something you don’t often hear about. It is made out to be this wonderful experience. But few mention the hardships that come with maintenance, the expensive products, that akward in between stage from teeny weeny afro to medium/long, and how to style it.
But it can be wonderful, and beautiful, and versatile, much like any other fragile thing of beauty.
When I big chopped for the fiftyhundreth time in February 2016, a lot of my friends and co-workers looked at me like I was crazy. And I had to remind them that me cutting all of my hair off was nothing new. The only difference was this time, I had cut it low enough that I could not install braids to hide my short hair. I wanted to experience being able to literally wake up and go. No ponytails, braiding or picking out my fro. No curling irons and styling mouse with my relaxed hair. Just simple and efficient.
And I won’t lie, I loved it. However, I did not anticipate how uncomfortable it would make those around me and how much value others put into having “long hair” and femininity. The men in my life were like, “it’s cute, but grow it back out and don’t ever cut it again” or “women should have long hair”. The women were like, “now you really do look butch” or “if you’re gonna wear it this low, you’ll need to dress more like a lady to balance it out”. But the one that hurt the most, was my aunt. While she has always wished I would be more feminine, she hated how much it made me look like my grandmother who had recently passed away and she wanted me to grow it back because it made her miss her mother even more.
Now don’t get me wrong I love my aunt, and I wasn’t the closest to my grandmother, but I just wished she would embrace my sense of individuality more. Yes, I am still very much a tomboy with my fashion choices. But I honestly would rather be comfortable than try to pretend I am something or someone else.
It took some time, but I continued to push through. I learned all over again how to take care of my kinky coils. And I am still learning. I enjoy playing with my hair. I won’t strive for my bra strap length of my youth, but will stick to chin length. Until the cutting bug visits again, that is.
I will continue to play with styles, braids and my favourite, hair colouring.
Now many naturalistas will argue that colouring your hair is bad or no longer makes you natural, but as I have always said, this is my hair and I have to live with it, not you. Hair can be coloured and healthy. And that is all I want. Does it get expensive sometimes? Yes. Can it be time consuming? Yes. But for me, in a world and a life that at times can feel so out of control, being able to mold and “control” my hair, gives a small but much needed dose of stability.