Where should I start!? I guess I should start with the positives, cos that is just my style.
Firstly, I’m gonna say that I love my afro hair. I haven’t always. Trust me, many tears have been shed over the years. (Mostly when my Mum would try to detangle it) Like most young girls with afro hair, I used to wish that my hair was straight, the majority of my friends at school had straight hair and I thought it would be so much easier to brush and to style. At that time I had no idea about ‘beauty standards’ or ‘media influence’ and Instagram did not exist. I got used to people saying that my hair was ‘massive’ or ‘bushy’ or asking me if they could touch my hair. I was never offended, but I did feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Let’s be honest, when you’re fourteen years old, the last thing that you want, is to stand out.
Fast forward sixteen years and I now have the confidence to fully embrace my afro hair. It’s a huge part of my identity and I have no desire to change it. Of course sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have braids or to shave my head. I’ll probably never do either of those things, but hey it’s fun to day dream about it.
Since discovering the online natural hair movement, I’ve realised that this conversation is a real one and a very important one. I guess if I’m completely honest, initially I didn’t feel like I could get involved in this conversation because I am mixed race. That might sound strange but let me explain. I didn’t feel like I could speak on behalf of ‘black women’ because I’m not black. I was raised by a white mother and I didn’t have any black female role models in my life to teach me about twists, head scarfs or relaxer. I didn’t know about any of that stuff until I left home and met a black girl at college. Thank you Anneka for introducing me to texturiser!
My point is that hair is more than just hair. It’s a part of your identity. I can join in with the conversation of natural hair because my perspective is just as valid as anyone else’s.
Many beauty and hair brands are now attempting to showcase a more diverse line up of models and ambassadors in their campaigns. Although there is still along way to go, the landscape is beginning to gradually change. Beauty standards is a whole different conversation but one thing that still needs to change, is the narrative surrounding afro hair. Here are some words that people frequently use to describe my hair… wild, crazy, funky, frizzy, non of these words have positive connotations. I’ve also been asked if my hair is real or if my hair is a wig. That is just rude! I laugh it off but to be honest, I’d rather you just shut up talking about my hair. It’s afro hair, so what!?
I often get questions like ‘Why don’t you ever straighten it?’ Maybe because, I like it the way it is and I don’t feel the need to change myself. More importantly, maybe I actually don’t want to stand here and listen to your opinion of me and my appearance. Don’t even get me started on how many times a stranger has actually touched Jude’s hair whilst he’s been sitting next to me on the tube. Please don’t ruffle my childs hair. He is not a dog and you are a complete stranger!
Okay, this post is not an angry rant, let’s take it back a bit. I know that often people think that they are complimenting you but essentially, my hair doesn’t need to be a constant point of discussion.
It’s incredible that thanks to the internet, mostly Instagram, we have a platform to share, learn and connect. We can create our own media and seek out our personal role models, style icons and see ALL types of beauty. I love the way my hair looks and that is the important part of the message. Equally, if I did want to braid my hair or dye it, or shave it all off, that is my choice too. I do not need your opinion or approval. Until then… this is my hair, it’s afro, so what!?