I took out my last weave yesterday and at the sight of my kinky, afro hair, I started to cry.
I started to cry because for the first time in my life, I saw the beauty in the thick and dark curls that rested on my head. Thick and dark curls that for a long time, I never considered beautiful.
Before I explain the importance and significance of this act, let me take you on the journey of my hair.
Being a black woman, my hair is naturally thick, dark and for a while never really grew longer than a bob. However, I never really thought anything of it as I was born in Africa. I was raised amongst other girls with similar hair types.
When I was 6 years old, my family moved to the UK, and it was only then that I started to notice how difficult my hair was. How “unattractive” it was compared to the long and straight hair of my friends. How its coarseness was not normal.
My mother tried to discourage such feelings and thoughts, but she didn’t understand. She never would. You see, my mother’s hair was not like mine. As coarse as her hair was, her hair was thin, long and straight. Her hair looked normal.
She wouldn’t understand the constant looks and uninvited touches. She would never understand the insults and laughter that I was used to.
After a while, I just hated my hair. Hair, which was utterly difficult, unmanageable and undesirable.
It didn’t help that I was surrounded by beauty standards that didn’t focus so much on the beauty of a natural black woman, but told me that as long as I was a black woman, I would never be desirable.
I had my first full head weave done and I saw the difference in my confidence. This was what I needed to be beautiful. Like my friends, I needed long and straight hair.
My first weave soon turned into my second then my third and fourth. My confidence came from the feeling of beauty that I got from having normal hair. It was a beauty that deep down I knew was artificial, but I still craved it.
I refused to deal with the deeper issues of insecurity that I had, not only towards my hair but my skin colour.
In 2017, I removed my weave and was surprised to find that my natural hair had grown longer. I would love to say that it was at this moment that I was satisfied. I would love to say I realised how beautiful my hair was. But unfortunately, I did not.
My hair—although long—was still thick, and for me that would never be good enough.
I didn’t want a weave at that time so I got the next best thing: Straighteners.
This was my thinking—as long as I had straight hair, I would be happy. I would be beautiful.
When 2018 came around, my hair—which started out long and thick—was completely destroyed. Although it was straight, there was so much breakage due to the constant heat of the straightener on hair that was not designed for it. It was one of the lowest points of my life. And of course, to remedy the situation, I went back to weaves.
In my journey to love my hair; to change my hair and try to make it perfect, I had ended up damaging it completely. And it was all people noticed. The only way to grow out my hair was to put it in a weave; which leads me up to the start of a new journey.
Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about loving yourself as you are. And before I teach it to others, I have to do it myself.
So I started to take out each and every track of hair—which is a painstaking process—but the end result was worth it. I stood up proud. And as I looked in the mirror at the mess of dark curls, I fell in love with the beauty that was my hair.
It’s been a long journey in loving my natural hair, but I guess that is what self-love is.
It’s all about the importance of the journey and the beauty of its destination. And my gosh, my destination has been beautiful.