It all started with a joke, about how scary my hair is when it is not tied into a bun or plaited. I smiled at my grandmother after she made that comment and reminded her, that was exactly how her hair was in the black and white photos of her that I have seen.
‘But not anymore as you can see’ she laughed exposing a bald patch in the middle of her head while tufts of hair surround it like an oasis in the desert. ‘Soda ruined my hair and my friend’s, your generation is lucky, at least the relaxers are not that harsh’ she added. My hair shrank back in disgust when it heard the word relaxer. Relaxer, that creamy attractive poison created to make the defiant kinky hair standing upright to surrender into straight mane falling down one’s neck.
Memories of relaxer seem distant but still close. I could still remember the chemical smell masked with different other smells as the plastic container housing the white poison is opened. Powder, vaseline or shea butter slathered on my scalp to prevent my scalp from ‘burning’ the pin like stings of the relaxer as it performs it ‘wonders’, the voice of the hairdresser as she encouraged me to sit a bit longer because my hair is too strong, the temporary relief that comes when water is eventually used to rinse it off, the itches in places my hairdresser’s hands wouldn’t reach and the ordeal of the hood dryer! The bitter happiness when my hair is beautifully styled into the house wife style or the flower girl style and the trauma of having wounds on my scalp from places that were not properly washed. I could go on and on.
It is appalling to see relaxing as something normal in our society while natural hair is looked upon with suspicion. Questions like ‘are you an SU? Did you just join the Niqabi sisters?’ assail you when people see your natural hair in all it glory. Some people dig their fingers into your coils and ask you why you have refused to perm your hair because it’d make it longer. What a misconception! This shows how uneducated most women are about their hair and it health, reasons why relaxers will continue to sell.
Someone once told me ‘you know this natural hair thing you are doing is like a trend sha?’ and I replied ‘no, I don’t think so and if it is, it is the coolest trend ever, you should join!’ she looked me over like the halo on my head was affecting my sense of reasoning and hissed. Well, I forgave her few months after when she called me for natural hair tips!
So what are we on about? Embracing the beauty we were born with. See dearest sisters, there is a reason why the African woman’s hair is kinky, coily, wooly. Haven’t you noticed how unique our hair is? All other hair types have something in common which is the propensity to be silky and fine looking but they can never ever ever be kinky or coily no matter what is added to it but with the afro, get some essential oils, a straightener and your hair is as good as a weave! After few weeks if you so wish, it goes back to it royal kinkiness!!!
Our hair is versatile, our hair is beautiful, our hair tells a story. Our hair represents the true African spirit of resilient. We should stop poisoning our hair with chemicals. Believe me, if my grandmother and her friend who lost their hair in the quest for beauty were made to see their hair as beautiful, they’d never go near a soda with a ninety-five inch pole! Relaxer is an unhelpful thing we feed our hair with, we have to go through the pains of touching up every 4-6 weeks otherwise our hair start breaking or go back to it kinky state. It becomes more or less an addiction for our hair, we keep going back to relaxer like drugs because our hair became dependant on it and like every other harmful drugs it wreck damage on our hair health – bad edges, shedding hair, burnt scalps, discolored hair – until we cut it off.
Let us join the natural hair movement if we haven’t and if we have, thumbs up sisters!!!
Do you also think the natural hair movement is a thing in vogue which would soon pass? What do you think about relaxing? What are your experiences? Please share.