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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hair Deeds

This was a draft in my vault that I decided to finally post after reading the responses from a recent post on BGLH. I originally wrote this post in May 2012.


It's taking A LOT for me to write this.... Long post for those who care!

I have been natural for approximately 6 years. As a child and eventually an adolescent, I always had problems with my hair and used braids as a coverup for something I didn't know how to handle. The summer before college, I decided to give up the perm and keep my hair braided which became my unknown transition to becoming natural. That didn't solve my hair issues, not that I expected it to. I just didn't want to deal with it. Once my perm grew out and I amassed a head full of kinky coils, I started to look into how to maintain natural hair. And since I love to research anyway, I gained a lot of knowledge. As a result, I spent countless dollars on hair products and had more errors than trials but I've stuck it out. I'm still natural, but after all this time... I've got little to show for it.

My hair is fine, wispy, and very fragile and needs much tender care to see results. However, my hair is still unique and lovely to me. I love it because I have it. After all the trauma I've put it through, it's still there! Funny thing is, I'm the natural hair queen! I have converted many a friend to the natural side. I have aided in the upkeep and advice of natural hair to many people. I know EVERYTHING to know about natural hair and I promote it on the regular.

Upon coming to Ghana, I had a plan. I thought it was really great because I had 10 months to really promote a change. I had an abundance of time and the warm weather was supposed to be conducive to the health of my hair. But yeah, I never kept up with my planned regimen of deep conditioner treatments and moisturizing. I protected my hair under my usual braids  because it's hard to resist the cheap hair braiding here:) The first day I met my principal, I wore my hair in it's natural form. It was in a cute puff and I liked it! But he kept staring at it as if it were to be a problem. You know that look, the "what are you going to do with it?" look.Then when I went to visit family in Kumasi, they kept saying that an araba like me should keep my hair neat as I am a foreigner and I should look like one. Let's not forget my mom calling me from the States from time to time to ask me, "have you done your hair? Please don't embarass me ooo... You know Kumasifuo..."  I think it puzzles people that a "fine girl" like me wants to wear my hair "like that". "You have money, don't you?" (these are true comments!). When I was leaving Nigeria, during my departure process the customs officer looked over my passport then looked at me and asked, "What were you doing in Nigeria?" I answered that I there to visit my boyfriend and family. He then glanced at my (bit old but still!) kinky twists and asked, "So your boyfriend couldn't pay for you to do your hair?"

The thing is that, adult women with natural hair is very common here, especially in Accra (where things are more modern anyway). I see young women in my age group proudly wearing their natural hair at whatever length and style. I see adult women with their hair in natural twists all the time. Granted, most of these adult women are market sellers; I only note women my age with natural to be from the local university. I assume many people here consider natural hair to be for those who cannot afford to do their hair or just want to be "rasta". It's usually school girls that are subjected to wear their hair short and unpermed. You can tell who is about to finish high school because their natural hair is a little fuller, as if getting ready to be permed or braided upon graduating. I've chatted with so many young girls who are itching to grow their hair out, perm it, weave, braid it, what have you.

I just hope I can get to the point where I can let go of my dependency on braids and really learn how to treat my natural curls. I just feel that being an American and having natural hair makes me stand out all the more. I don't know how I feel about the attention. And I am afraid that I am more concerned of what they think as beautiful and therefore, I'm giving in to their standards by covering up what I think I am supposed to be proud of. My hair.

Shit just got real.

I never finished the post but I guess to summarize and to interject my perspective about it all, now that I am back in the States and was recently reminded of these events through Chizzy's post. Frankly, as Ghanaians, we have a long way to go when it comes to acceptance. I have a long way to go as well. We have a long way to go when it comes to self-acceptance, awareness, and overall, education. I do hope that Africans in the Diaspora will work to demystify the myth that beauty resides in long flowing Brazilians, oversized shoppers, and long, painted talons--- especially when they visit home. A lot of this miseducation comes from the mainstream beauty and possibly, colonial influence. So natural Ghana girls, when you're going home, be prepared for the backlash, whether aggressive or private concern. But if you're going to rock the fro, rock it proudly, boldly, and with confidence. Their concern is probably marvel at your audacity to truly being yourself.


Amma Mama said...

The hair struggle is indeed real. I used to hide my hair all the time, especially after my BC. At first, I wore my TWA with confidence but then I hid it because I was ashamed of my texture {sad but true}. And also because I let all the negative comments get to me. After my hair passed the TWA stage, I decided to wear it out again. But I still felt very self- conscious and insecure. I thought my hair would be better if I had a softer texture and looser curl pattern. I felt my hair was too kinky and coily for me to be natural. Even three years in the game, I still desired a relaxer at times. I expressed these feelings to my friends and they were shocked because I converted them and others. I liked everyone else's natural hair but not my own. However, I now realize that a relaxer is just not an option or a solution for me. Even though my hair is kinky and I sometimes don't like dealing with it,it is the crown God has blessed me with. He doesn’t make any mistakes and I always remind myself of this.

On another note, that guy in the airport was very bold and rude. What did you say when he asked you that?
And big lol at “painted talons”, hilarious!

Ama Kyei said...

lol, Amma, when I think about I can only laugh in shock but at that moment, I was too hot to give him the time of day. I gave him my best "stare of death".

The struggle is real... it's real. I can't even explain because all our stories are similar. Yeah, there a host of girls who went natural and owned it from the jump but I know there is an equal amount of women who are still trying to figure their hair out and it's exhilarating when it's right, frustrating when it's wrong. We have to keep pushing on, but really it's just hair.

GhanaianVeganist said...

I was just telling Clarissa I was not going to change my hair style to impress folks when I go to Ghana next month. All too often I've watched some of my family members prepare for their trip back home getting the best weave and American clothes to show the folks back home they've done well in America....well I've done well in America but I am going back with my nappy headed self.

Great posts!!! Wear your hair's you.

Ama Kyei said...

I cannot IMAGINE you with a weave or even braids. Your short do is your signature and it will captivate and puzzle Ghanaians back home but who cares!!?? I know you don't! It's so true about folk getting their best hair done before they head home; it's almost comical to see how they prepare for the reactions and admiration. The fact that you have done well in America WITH a nappy head speaks volumes.

I'll get out my self-placed trapped of braids, one of these days:)

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