Good evening beautiful people of the world!
I was originally going to be writing a post about my hair and history of African hair. But my hair journey through life is a very sensitive and personal subject to talk about. I wanted to keep both subjects separate as the history of African hair is very rich and powerful and has so many eye opening facts that many of us are unaware of. I want to emphasise what I write in this post is super, super personal and I want to keep my blog a positive and respectful place to share.
I have only began to truly embrace my natural hair and love it within the eight years of my life. I used to wear clip in extensions, straighten my hair using chemically products like relaxer and handheld straighteners. I remember people telling me my natural hair was beautiful and why do you straighten it. It all goes back to when I was younger as I was brought up in a predominately white community. I was very fortunate to go to a private school, however it also came at a different cost. At my school I was one of maybe four(which also included my sister) of African descent girls in my entire school which ages ranged from four to eighteen. As there were not many girls who looked like me it was hard to truly connect and feel like you fit in.
I am going to share some very personal experiences I went through which have affected me.
This is my earliest memory of my hair being significantly different to others. I got box braids for the first time and I loved them so much as my sister and I rarely got our hair professionally done. I was in year one of school which is the age of between five to six years old. I went to go to the toilets and when I arrived a group of girls from my class were already there, they said that my hair looked like a mop whilst laughing at me. They tried to push my head down the toilet which they successfully achieved whilst running away laughing back to the classroom. I dried my hair as well as my tears under the hand dryer. This moment in my life truly scarred me.
Throughout my school years I would get comments like your hair looks like my pubic hair, people trying to touch my hair (I will get in to that another time, trust me!) and this kind of behaviour was and never will be acceptable!
At eight years old we visited my dad in Chicago and he took me to a hair salon where I got my hair steam pressed for the first time. My dad never forgets the smile on my face as I felt beautiful, probably because my hair looked more European. After that experience at thirteen years old my sister and I would straighten our hair with the cheapest and crap straighteners ever. I remember religiously straightening the same part of hair to make sure it was completely dead straight as I was getting ready for school. By the time I arrived to the gates of the school it was slowly beginning to frizz up and it was terrible! I was self conscious all day that I would become a laughing target for people saying spiteful comments about my hair. Later on I began to chemically straighten my hair with relaxer and oh my the smell is so strong! But it was the only way for me not to worry about the frizz problem occurring after straightening my hair. The damage the relaxer did to my hair was terrible, even now the back of my hair is more straight than the rest of the hair on my head. I wanted to experience long hair so I bought clip in extensions which I would personally sew. This added so much stress to my scalp and hair which resulted in my hair thinning creating bald spots in the areas where the clips were constantly clipped in to, I kept on wearing them as I felt ashamed of my natural hair.
Once my mum asked me to go the the closest corner shop to buy milk and on the way there were a group of ‘lads’ that touched my hair saying I looked like Amy Winehouse and laughing at me. I came home feeling deflated as even with European textured hair I am still not accepted by society! At the age of eighteen I transitioned to accept my curly natural hair. I loved waking up and not dedicating so much time on my hair and even styling it.
I embraced my hair but I was not fully educated on knowing how to care for my natural hair. I bleached my hair as I wanted blonde curly hair which ruined my curl pattern as it was half curly and half straight( seriously not a great look). I visited Vegas to see my dad, and his friends girlfriend embraced her beautiful hair and spoke about her hair journey. She looked amazing and I was ashamed of my hair which inspired me to go for the big chop. When I returned to London I chopped off all the dead blonde bits from my hair, but as it grew i finally chopped all the blonde out of my hair.
Since embracing my Afro textured hair random strangers think it is okay to come up to you and touch my hair without consent. When I walk down the street, dancing in a nightclub, taking the train and so on. Personally I am fed up that people think they have the right to touch my hair and when you reply with NO, they want to give you and exchange for it such as “you can touch my hair” or excuses like “I have never touched black textured hair before”. Yeah so what! Human zoos were banned in 1958, I am not a pet!
I am learning to love my hair whilst educating myself on how to properly look after it as well as the history of African hair. I wanted to write this post for a while now, but to be honest I was embarrassed by the events that have happened to me as I thought I would come across weak. But for a second, I thought NO! It isn’t solely about you, it is also about those younger girls and future generations to come who might experience similar moments like I did growing up. I feel the more we talk about this brings awareness which in time are small steps to a solution. There needs to be change as it is frustrating that still to this day children of African descent are unable to wear there hair naturally. Some children who wore there hair naturally in locs and cornrows were suspended, because it didn’t keep with the regulations of the school which is straight up discrimination! Once I did cornrows for my younger brothers and the school said it was unacceptable hair and if they were not taken out they would be suspended! Hair does not stop you from your school studies. Period!
I am happy to share my hair experience as I feel it is important to not pretend that these issues do occur as well as affect people mentally. Hopefully this will spread more awareness of what people of African decent experience with there hair on a daily basis, as so many of us go through the same issues.