My decision to go natural was heavily influenced by the famous Coco Chanel quote, “A woman who cut her hair is about to change her life”. If I had known the truth about the ugly side of the natural hair journey, I probably wouldn’t have gone through with it at all.
The battle with my hair began promptly after my big chop. My hair stopped growing completely! I was stuck on the ugly stage of natural hair, a stage that sadly, no one tells you what to do with it once you’re in it. As an African girl, whether I want to agree or not, hair is a big deal. Short African hair is even a bigger deal.
Slowly, regret crept in and I sat at the corner of my bed asking myself what change I was really seeking. I must have asked Google ‘ways to style short 4c hair’ on a daily basis. Only to experience gloom and disappointment as all the channels showed girls with longer natural hair than what I had.
Critics of short natural hair have been placed on this earth in abundance; and anyone who is at the beginning their natural hair journey can actively testify. I once overheard, in the halls of school, someone whisper, “Joan looks like a boy with her short hair. She should apply some make-up to look more feminine.” My insecurities became magnified in my mind; and in a way I can see how my love for turbans began. Due to that comment, my hair remained hidden for roughly 3 months.
I will not lie I want long natural hair. I know I am not the only one sitting at home lusting over Sheila Ndinda’s creative styling, Michelle Ntalami’s confidence and Tabitha Tongoi’s (Craving Yellow’s) hair length. Long nights have been spent in awe of their hair and in wonder why my hair won’t conform and just grow! Also why won’t society accept that all hair is beautiful whether it’s short, long, kinky, curly or smooth? We have all fallen victim of society’s conditioning that long hair = good hair.
So what is supposed to happen when you have short hair? Does it automatically come across as ugly because it’s short, boyish and sometimes doesn’t want to behave? Is femininity still determined by the media standards of beauty – tall, almond eyed, narrow nosed, slender with long back length hair? What about those who don’t fall in that category? Should they stop feeling beautiful because their bodies have refused to conform to societal norms?
Over the years, my hair has grown in earnest! However, I have come to love my hair regardless of its length. The craze of length chasing is now less important because at the end of the day healthy hair has become my priority. I am slowly learning to dance through the ugly and to smile through the journey.
We should all be more honest about the struggles we face in the ugly stage of natural hair. Any advice would come in handy and it would help the short but depressing stages of ‘short hair sadness’ become manageable. If we must talk of anything, let’s speak about the art of embracing the individuality and uniqueness of our hair; rather than encouraging the active chase of long natural hair.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE UGLY STAGE OF NATURAL HAIR? DO YOU HAVE TIPS AND TRICKS TO SHARE ON HOW ONE CAN SURVIVE IT? LET US KNOW BY SHARING IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW:
Image photography by Neema Toya
Joan is an Electronic media and Public relations student who is a natural hair enthusiast. She loves to share her life experiences through written word.