RIDING THE WAVE
I can’t remember the exact moment when I chose to go natural.
There was no deciding moment, no epiphany. Just a growing realisation that I could not have it all. And by all, I mean length, thickness, straightness and health. As much as I had washed, conditioned and willed my hair to health, it invariably stayed the same.. The roots I regularly relaxed were proof of its growth and yet, thanks to chronic split ends, it just didn’t grow past shoulder length. So there I was, giving up on one of the only constants in my life for the past 15 years: my straight hair.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with my natural hair, though frankly I’m not quite sure what it even looks like anymore. What I do know is that, in my mind at least, I have straight hair. The same way Emma Watson was clearly meant to be and is a red head (thanks to a little bottled colour), I am, for all intents and purposes, a straight haired girl. My sense of self so defined, the shift is no easy feat.
Yet, when I dove head first into the water with not a care in the world, I couldn’t help but feel free and empowered by my decision. Free to do as I please, to present a different face to the world and to be more than just a head of hair.
Though the natural hair movement is often discussed in political terms, my endeavour is a furiously personal one. My awareness of black hair’s deeper ramifications only strenghthens my resolve. The fact that it is devisive even within the black community serves to show how much hair texture gets tied into deeper questions of social standing and acceptance.
When Beyonce called out "Becky with the good hair", there was never any doubt about what was meant. We live in a world where, when it comes to hair, good equals straight. Hard not to succumb to the prescribed perception of what common eurocentric culture deems "pretty". But beyond those societal norms, I’m in it to prove to myself that I can embrace curls as much as I have come to love straight hair, in a way that doesn’t limit me to either or.
Make no mistake, change is scary and I am preparing for a long road of trial and error towards acceptance. But if it means I get to swim in the rain and abhorre humidity a little less, than surely it is worth it - and I am worth it.