"My understanding of my hair has changed a lot since I was younger, but I think one thing still remains true: my hair means a lot to me. I wish that I could fully embody India Arie’s song “I am not my hair”, but I’m not quite at that stage yet.
My childhood and adulthood have been marked by frequent visits to the Beauty Supply Store, hours detangling and washing my hair and then hours sitting in a chair to get my hair re-done. When I was a kid, I resented the hours and days spent on my hair. More than anything, I wanted bone straight, long hair that required little maintenance. I envied my friends who were able to run, play and swim without fear of their silk presses “frizzing” up before it needed to. I feared the hot comb burning my ears and dreaded sitting in a chair in someone’s basement for hours on end while they struggled to part and braid my hair. Once you hear that your hair is “difficult” or “nappy”, it’s hard to feel like it - and then by extension- you, are beautiful.
Once I transitioned into my mid teens I started watching natural haired youtubers talk about their hair journey and I felt a lot less alone. By my late teens and then 20s, I started finding people who knew more about Black Hair (shout out to @curlsforcrowns in the GTA and jennifer naturals in London Ontario and @braidsbyjoybrampton). They educated me, empowered me and helped me reconnect with my beautiful hair.
My beautiful hair.
Slowly but surely I started to see my thick, curly, Nigerian hair as worthy. Although I rarely wear my hair completely natural (I’m not quite at that stage, but I want to be), I have found power in choice. The wonderful thing about my hair/Black hair is that the styles are limitless. I can rock anything I want: a silk press, knotless/box braids (my go to style), natural curls, crochet braids, wigs/weaves, twist outs, bantu knots, etc. I look beautiful all ways!
My hair is part of my body and has strong ties to my Black culture, but it doesn’t have to be all that I am. I’m slowly starting to realize this and I am feeling empowered with my agency to choose how I want to present myself on any given day.