This wouldn’t be an African girl’s blog if I didn’t talk about my hair at some point in time.
Like all little girls, I dreamed of having long dark flowing hair like Pocahontas’ as she serenades John Smith with Colours of the Wind; but although I dreamed of another life, I slowly learned to accept the burden that has been placed on me as a black female. From the time spent as a child, sitting on a stool, sniffing the hairdresser’s underwear to the hours spent with an aching bottom on a salon chair as three people try to tame my extra thick, full hair into braids, I had no choice but to shoulder my yoke.
I have returned to university, and for the first time ever, I am refusing to braid my hair. My black hair has always been a touchy topic for me when I’m abroad. I can deal with the curiosity on whether or not I braid my hair every morning or how I keep them clean over the months; but you see, the problem is I am sick of the questions that come in January, when after three to four months of carrying them around, I loosen the braids. I return to school after Christmas with chin-length bushy hair rather than the plaits that stretched halfway down my back.
Then people are like, “What happened to your hair? Oh! why did you cut your long beautiful hair?”. Or they say nothing and give me that weird awkward look, I know what they are thinking about but they are too British to mention it. Or worse still, they don’t recognise me. Three weeks later, I show up with plaits once again and someone asks how my hair managed to stretch and grow so long all of a sudden (true story). Then I have to give my how-my-braids-are-made-with-extensions speech. And I watch the confused faces contort.
This time around, I have chopped off my hair. I hesitated a little before taking my seat at the barber’s because I was worried about looking masculine. I am not a fashionable person and cutting my hair seemed like a final nail in the coffin of my femininity. But now I have decided that I really couldn’t care less.
So, I am rocking my low-cut all the way through the year (well, now it’s becoming more like a baby afro). I’m really loving letting the warm water kiss my scalp when I shower, and I can’t get over how light and free my head feels. I am in love with my hair. However, I must admit that sometimes I do stare at the mirror, trying to reconcile myself to my new look, wondering if I really do look like a guy who doesn’t know where the barber is.