Monday, August 22, 2005

The Rantings of a Nappy-headed Chica

I want to make an additional post about hair. I don't know why Nigerian women almost never seem to wear their own hair. This is something that I've always observed, but of course I'm noticing it a lot more since I've been back. I've never particularly liked "having things" in my hair i.e. wearing extension braids or weaves. Even way back when before I left the country and before I went natural, I always thought that it was important to cultivate my own hair and learn to look after it and style it as best as I could. I taught myself to set my hair with rollers while still in England. It was too expensive for me to go up to London (about an hour-long train ride away) and then I saw my friend Tangela roll her own hair with excellent results. I knew then that I had be more self-reliant in taking care of my own hair. I became pretty good with that.

When I went natural, I had to start learning how to care for my hair all over again and I feel that I have reached a place where I really know my hair; and I feel that my hair is all the better for it.

Now my mother keeps looking at my hair and making comments about more conventional hairstyles. What does that mean, I wonder? Braids, weaves? I think those are good occasional style options, but not permanent style choices- for me.
I think the overall reaction to my twists has been positive. Of course, these are not reactions from my future employers or colleagues. That might be a totally different matter and might matter more. I personally don't see what my hair style choices have to do with the quality of my work. I've been girding myself for a situation where I will be asked to wear a more traditional style, but I'd like to think that my future employers would not be so narrow-minded as to make that request.

But, back to society in general- why is it so strange to want to wear your hair in its natural form? I've heard the whole "manageability" explanations, but I don't think it's just a case of natural hair being too difficult to comb and care for. I think it's a lot deeper than that. I think there's a thinking that natural hair is for kids. Grown women should have more sophisticated styles, and this is usually synonymous with straight, shiny hair. I have to admit though, as an ex-permie, that thinking of natural hair as a viable adult hair option requires a new way of thinking- one that doesn't associate elegance with straight hair. I had to go through that after my hair fell out and I was forced to go natural. I think seeing more and more people with natural hair helps to gradually regard natural hair as more normal. My brother says that more and more women are wearing their hair natural, though I am yet to see them. But, if this is true (and I hope it is), my afro won't receive so many stares as it does now.

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