However, I’m not at all exhausted with the hair topic yet.
I think we should keep talking about hair because our strands are bearers of shared cultural experiences. I don’t think the hair conversation is about vanity. I believe we are explicitly and/or implicitly also talking about culture and history when we talk of hair. You know, things like the ‘good hair’ phenomenon, western and non-western beauty ideals, career hairdos and more. I reckon that when those types of concerns are no longer part of our social fabric then the conversation will end.
I think one reason people would rather kill the conversation is because they think it’s shallow. And they are right to an extent; for example there’s an abundance of natural hair blogs that simply copy and paste information and pretend to be doing something avant-garde. Then there are those that provide inspirational resources like my new blog subscriptions; Natural Belle and urban bush babes. Love them!
There are 3 reasons why I stopped relaxing my hair:
1. It occurred to me that if I dislike the hair that grows out of my head naturally then there’s some part of my identity that I need to have a reassuring conversation with.
2. After having that conversation I admitted to myself that I wanted hair that had nothing to do with my heritage because I’m neither Indian nor in any way equine.
3. I wanted healthy hair.
So the transition to natural hair was for me a step towards accepting myself inside and out. And with every little curl that grew I felt a sense of healing, I felt like I owed my hair an apology for thinking that it was unattractive and unmanageable for too long.
As Lorette, a locktician and commenter on the post ‘A tribute to the black hair conversation’ said:
I find that sometimes women come to me with the physical manifestations (damaged hair) of spiritual damage due to the years of trying to live up to false representations of women of colour. When I “fix” a womans hair it is usualy one step on a journey of self discovery and growth and affects their whole personas and life out look and supports them on their road to achieve balance. I am blessed to be part of these womens evolutions.
Many women today are again abandoning relaxers and natural hair is moving into the mainstream. With that move natural hair becomes less of a political and more of a fashion statement, which in return means that natural hair becomes commodified for advertising. And I don’t see a problem with that, in the sense that it’s preferable to be bombarded with adveritsing for products that include scrumptious ingredients like coconut, shea and cocoa butter rather than no-lye, am I right? But I’m wondering, must it be either/or? In between the fashion and marketing frenzy of natural tresses, is there space to discuss this new found love for our ‘hairitage’? Where has it come from? Does it have to do with the spirit of the times; of the Afropolitan and other Africa-centric movements? & will the relaxer eventually become an embarrassing memory, like it has for men of African heritage or is it here to stay as a staple product in African heritage hair culture?
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Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.