It was a Saturday morning…
When I texted my mom putting my foot down telling her I’m going to cut my relaxed hair. She had been stalling me for years but now I was in matric, the matric dance was long over, I had not relaxed the hair for about 7 months and I wanted to cut more than anything else. She once again stated her case and convinced me to cut only when I get home.
See, she had grown attached to it all my life cause she nurtured it personally for years. Whilst letting go of the hair meant freedom for me, it remained a great loss to her for a short while.
The first few days with my short hair felt great, I felt free and cool (with all that exposure to the wind). I had no idea what to do with the hair I either combed it or left it looking like an orchestrated mess. I got a lot of flack from a lot of people cause “why did you cut your hair, it was so long?” “You looked better with the relaxed hair” but that really didn’t get to me, I had wanted my natural hair for so long that no naysayers could make me feel otherwise about it.
I’ve always maintained that everything and anything is political; religion, sports, food, culture, norms, style and of course hair is no exception. My hair is political. My hair speaks to resistance, speaks to history, speaks to beauty and identity hence my love for it. My former high school didn’t allow people to wear their natural hair, you either had to braid the hair, plait it or relax it. That’s partly where the politics and resisrance come in. I’ve always been very deliberate about my blackness – my hair is an extention of that.
Maintenance! Wow! I’m the worst at maintaining my hair. I put my hair through the most because I am inherently lazy😕
I’ve learned that a lot of hairdressers don’t have the know how when it comes to natural hair so I do my own hair at home. The hair is very thick, however not really long cause it’s taking its sweet time growing. Therefore I end up using a lot of shampoo and conditioner, I detangle the hair while it’s still shampood to prevent it from hurting and then I rinse and towel dry. No hairdryers. No heat. No comb. I don’t even own a comb for that matter. I then use coconut oil and sometimes a hairfood with jojoba and olive oil, it works better than the coconut oil. Surprisingly, my hair doesn’t take coconut oil very well, it dries out very quickly then I have to put more oil and that means my bedding and gran’s couches are always dripping with coconut oil. I’m still searching for the perfect hairfood, might even mix it myself. Bantu knots and twists are supposed to be my daily bread but because my hair us so thick, they take forever hence I only do them once a week. I also avoid braiding my hair because it’s painful, I only started plaiting regularly when I found my darling hairdresser whom I believe has fairy hands. There’s no pain at all when she plaits me so I’m including plaiting as part of my hair routine even though I only stay a week with the style.
Regardless of whether it’s a bad hair day or not, I have a special relationship with headwraps. Whether it’s a seshweshwe material or wax african print, or Swati khanga, I’ll always find a way to wrap it around my head. I looked into the history of headwraps and found that they too were a form of resistance. Black women were forced to cover their heads cause white women felt their elaborate hairstyles attracted their husbands to the black people so in resistance the mbokodos covered their hair but made elaborate styles and used bright colours and patterns which made them even more attractive. Not that they really wanted to get that kind of attention from white men, it was a movement to ensure white people don’t dictate to them in all aspects, somewhere somehow they had to stand up for themselves, of which they did. For me, the natural hair and headwraps go together. 😊
The 2 years journey with my hair has been a roller coaster ride but I keep falling in love with it and I’m looking forward to doing locks in a few months.