This is long overdue but I’m gonna address something that I get asked about all the time.
“Is that your real hair?”
This is a question that floats through the everyday conversation of my life. Every time I post a new picture, every time I go to the beauty supply store for some products – heck, it even haunts me in my dreams.
Well, is it?
Nope. It is not. So, I started my natural hair journey back in February 2017 (the day before valentine’s day I think), which means I have been a naturalista for about 3 years and 2 months. I had longer hair at the back section of my head because the curl pattern was looser so I started wearing natural hair extensions that matched the curl pattern near my parting, so that it would all be one uniformed length. But after that experience, my ends were clinging on for dear life.
I’ve found that everything in society said that my hair was cool, different, cute, unique etc. But I didn’t believe that anyone really meant it. Black women have struggled so much in the workplace, at school and in social spaces for having “unprofessional”, “distracting” and “unkempt” hair. And growing up in a house where the moment a curl grew it would be relaxed flat wasn’t great for my confidence either. I wasn’t looking to be cool, different, unique, etc. I was looking to be someone’s cup of tea, to be normal, and to be the standard of beauty. When I became a Christian, I think knowing what I wanted and having the forces of nature stopping me from achieving that caused me to build up a lot of frustration towards myself and towards God.
“Why did You make me like this?” I kept asking. I was angry and insecure and egoistic at the same time if that’s even possible.
I think a big part of my frustration was bent on the fact that 4c hair wasn’t seen as attractive in the circles I had grown up in. I didn’t see many people who looked like me growing up, and the folks who did all had relaxed hair because it was “easier to manage.” I think the easier-to-manage attitude followed me into my natural hair journey, leading me to wear wigs and braids and weaves to “protect my hair”. But I got lazy and neglected my hair big time because I thought that as long as it was covered up it was fine. Let me just tell you that when I took my faux locs out recently, the ends were not it. I also was holding onto the long hair in the back and it was just not cute.
So I did a layered chop during quarantine and started coming clean to people about my hair extensions. I mean with most people, I neither confirmed nor denied that I was wearing extensions. But there were others that I wanted to impress so bad that I just panicked and lied. I owed some people apologies and I needed a clear conscience before people and before God. I did hesitate to write this blog post and apologise to people because I saw something that opened my eyes to the harsh reality of my hair – I watched a video of a woman finally showing her husband her real hair (the video is down below), and let’s just say his reaction was anything but wholesome. It made me panic. What had I done? I mean I’d cut my hair already, there was no turning back, but I wanted to. Surely not everyone thought that way, right?
I felt so uncomfortable with not having hair that fell around my face or that was impressive that I forgot to have an impressive personality. I wanted to be loved and envied at the same time to make up for all the times I loved and envied everybody else. It was consuming me. But I realised that my ambitions were all wrong. Why should I desire to be a point of envy? Like why should someone hurt inside wanting what I have, when I know how much it hurts inside to want what other people have? And if I have to change my hair to be loved, do they love me or the hair?
Okay, you had your third epiphany this week. But how are you gonna push against the tides of Eurocentric standards of beauty?
To answer the question mostly bluntly, I’m simply just gonna show my real hair. I actually read this passage in the bible:
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.” (1 Peter 3:3-5) After reading this I thought “yeah I could still wear my extensions, look good and everything, but I shouldn’t try to find my beauty in that. I should find my beauty in being who God would like me to be.” The extensions were a way I found beauty but if I’m looking for it within, they serve no purpose anymore.
(Side Note: If you go and read the whole passage, for context it’s referring to submitting yourselves to your husbands, not in the way we understand submission but in God’s way, where submission is reciprocal and the husband must be willing to die for their wives and love them like they love themselves.)
And I’m gonna keep my natural hair out all-year round. Yes, that means saying goodbye to the extensions, but for all the naturals who are cringing at the thought of me keeping my hair out during winter don’t worry, I’ve got some headscarves arriving in the post soon;) But yeah, I’m in a process of becoming. I’m becoming exactly who God wants me to be and I won’t let a small insecurity like my hair stop me.