A friend recently asked me about my increasingly evident embrace of my natural hair and why I think that’s happened now in uni, rather than say, back in sixth form. My response to her was a mixture of things, which I thought I’d share with you. I figured that firstly, being in an environment at a young age that begs conformity of dress and normalcy of behaviour (not that being ‘normal’ was ever a word used to describe me – as my friends will probably emphatically testify to), it’s easy to not know how to express yourself, or even what ‘yourself’ is.
My hair has undergone braids, weaves, twists and all the funky variations in-between but when it came to leaving out my natural hair that was another story. Although I’d never relaxed my hair, I’d always blow-dried it until it was as straight as can be. I’d always had this sense of dis-ease seeing pics of black girls with a natural halo crowning their heads *cough cough #BlackPanthers*. If that was the symbol of #BlackPride, I guess it made me feel that even being black I wasn’t ‘black’ enough.
It was just before coming back to my second term at uni that I decided to just leave my hair out (more out of a lack of choice than anything). Whilst at uni, there was a specific day I’d just finished putting coconut oil in my hair. The sun was out and for a couple of moments I just stared at my hair glistening in the mirror…I smiled…for the first time I had this surge of love for my own hair. It was then that I was quickly taken aback with shock; why was this the first time I’d felt like this? Surely this should be normal? The status quo? To love what naturally grows out from one’s head?
I find that although it can be easy to read about #SelfLove, it’s another thing to actually experience it, to be just another step closer to that slow but revolutionary process that is you. Please watch India Irie’s ‘I am not my hair’. Loving yourself isn’t a case of only loving a distinct feature of yourself such as your eyes, your legs, your lips, your hips. It’s looking intensely into the mirror – before quickly ignoring it and closing your eyes in order to embrace the complex and loving way in which you have been created…that is all.
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