Even in my natural hair, I felt like a fraud at first. It took more than a big chop to really understand the freedom that it was to bring. By freedom I mean from all of life’s expectations, from a life long struggle with unattainable measures and definitions of beauty. Freedom to admire myself and not look over my shoulder for someone else that didn’t agree with my choice. Freedom to return natural and believe that I belong.
I chopped my hair because a friend did it. I loved her hair but mine would never be as densely populated on this head. Yet on most days it would be gloriously full of life! I chopped my hair because I thought I would look cute in a ‘fro. I chopped my hair because I wanted to follow in a series of changes in my life – one was being a mother. For some women, the cocktail of hormones that is called pregnancy brings a welcome renovation of hair follicles.
I chopped my hair because what was straight was lifeless and I wanted life! I chopped my hair because it fit into that new phase. I decided to return natural because I was starting to realise that being an African woman was exceptional in its own right. It would allow me to shake off and unlearn at lot of the invisible but taut boundaries drawn for me over the last 20-30+years. Boundaries that told me, I only had a few options in life. I chopped my hair because I took a leap of faith…. no guarantees, just love.
When I chopped it, I relaxed it ever so slightly – I was afraid of how stubborn it might be. With time, however, I chopped off even that symbol of hesitation and started to deal with the rebel 4C that is me. Some days, I hate it. Some days, I am in love. Some days I am adventurous. Some days, I sigh in front of the mirror in disappointment and defeat.
“You lied to me…! I am not free!”
I scream at the mini-market of hair products crowding my bathroom – from Shea Butter to garlic infused castor Oil.
Like any good relationship, my hair and I have been through some pretty rough patches. We have made it this far and I am no longer that obsessive, naive newlywed with unrealistic expectations. I am a semi-wise, unapologetic but secretly hoping you will pay me a compliment for this twist out/bantu-knot/up-do with many pins holding naughty coils at bay.
I am also wise in that I have the good sense to keep my hair away during the rainy seasons. Then there are also those weeks/months when I am just too lazy or I need a break. I dig all the crotchet styles, cornrows, braids, weaves and bad-ass wigs. They are BAE!
I think I am free now because hair is here today but could be gone tomorrow. I would be the only one here, still seeking freedom and shopping for wigs. I will be here still learning, still discovering and still loving.
Featured Image by William Stitt on Unsplash