India Arie said it best people; “I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectation, Noooo, I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within…” power to those words. Today, dear reader, Paragraphicly Correct is dedicated to you, you who feel depressed or oppressed by another’s opinion of your physical/outer being; those who have a problem with your hair, your skin, your clothes etc. This issue has always been exactly that, an issue where I’m from. It’s an issue I’ve been dealing with for many years, and I guess I’ll be sharing one of my ex-issues with you. I say ex-issue because I don’t really care about it anymore.
So my hair has always been an issue, living in the community I live in it (hair) has (and still is) always been part of the neighbourhood gossip, of course when there’s nothing better to talk about. The thing with my hair is that it never fitted within the “coloured” norm, or at least the coloured norm of where I’m from. So because I didn’t want to be given the funny face or sarcastic comments I did things to my hair that actually damaged it in the process, things like relaxers, hair-straightners, heat-appliances, basically things to give it that extra glossy shine. As soon as I saw that my hair was “going south” something had to be done about it immediately. Sometimes I could share a laugh about it, but when things got serious (seriously sad) it got serious. This has been an issue throughout my high-school life too, and you know high-school, everybody had an opinion about everything. So in order to keep my hair out of their mouths I made sure that I kept it in check. Whilst I was doing that I was losing the authenticity of my real hair.
My eyes actually opened once I started attending university, not that I’m saying varsity doesn’t have its own panel of “Miss SA” judges or “Fashion Police” critics, but it’s there that I actually found myself and saw that people’s opinions about how you look or what you wear does not matter at all. I too, decided to embrace the culture of not worrying about what he/she says. So back to how this fits in with my hair situation, I went to my Aunt Lee-Ann so she could braid my hair and she asked if she could cut my hair, because at the time it had been a while since I touched a Dark & Lovely box and my roots seemed extremely thick. I actually thought long and hard about what I should do, eventually I was like why not? After that I braided my hair though, after 2 months of wearing the braids I took them out, washed my hair and guess what? I was sporting a nice new mini-afro. Since then, I’ve been inlove with my beautiful, African, nappy hair.
Today my hair is my pride, deciding to go against the norm that day never felt so good. I wear my beautiful “puff” as my crown with no care in the world of those comments and those faces. Because, as I referred to India Arie at the beginning of this piece, my hair is not who I am, I am the soul that lives within. And I’ve decided to live in accordance with my late grandma’s ideology to not worry about what’s on my head but rather what’s underneath it.
I’m not saying I’m totally unself-conscious about myself yet, as hair was never the only thing that kept me awake at night. Let’s just say resolving all the other issues are a work in progress because these things take time. But you know what, eventually I’ll get over it, to an extent that walking around naked won’t even be a problem (jokes, jokes, jokes)… I’ll just slowly but surely make it my mission to not conform to anyone’s norms of what/how I should or should not look.
In my own words featuring a little piece by India Arie and my late grandma’s logic.