Relaxed about my Afro
If I am so relaxed about my afro, then why is everyone else around me not so relaxed about theirs? I have an afro which I was brave enough to begin growing in 2010. All these years I have been using hair straighteners (crème relaxers); essentially I started using them when I began my high school years. Why I started? Not sure exactly, it might have been peer pressure. During my entire primary school years I kept my crowning-glory chemical free, through and through.
Personally I have nothing against the process of hair straightening (though it can burn like hell); neither do I have a quarrel with any other kind of hairdo that one chooses to apply. For some bizarre reason though, it seems like how I choose to wear my hair as a woman of colour is always under scrutiny. This fine-looking hair of mine is continuously put under a microscope and taken to some obscure lab to be “studied”, I can’t help but ask the question though, what’s with the fascination?
No matter what preference of hairstyle one might be in the mood for, (Natural/Afro, Straightened, Plaited, Braided or Weaved). Our hair always raises questions and suspicions to some; and here I was thinking my hair was my own business. It is alarming how fascinated a lot of people are with our hair, and some even wanting to dictate what we should do with it and what we should not.
I was shocked when Debra Patta’s current affairs television programme 3rd Degree, dedicated its resources and precious time to “investigating” black women’s hairstyles (weaves in particular).
Weren’t there any burning or hair raising issues, which Debra and her team could have picked to investigate? Well I guess not, since they opted to do their “investigative journalism” on my hair.
As a proud bearer of an Afro, a while back I decided to do something different with my hair, so I went and got myself a 100% human hair weave. I was really puzzled about the kinds of compliments and or comments I persistently got from different people. My then boss’s PA said and I quote: “Hair like that suits you, you look professional that Afro was “too funky” for the workplace”. My jaws literally dropped; the nerve of this woman I thought to myself. I think she could tell I was flabbergasted by her statement. She quickly tried to salvage the situation and said: “I don’t mean it in a bad way”. I wonder in what way she would propose to have meant it then?
I remember another time also, when I had one of those long weaves and my boss renamed me to Ranishia Moodley (I’m Refilwe Mtombeni, mind you), when I used to relax my hair I was called the “girl with fried hair”. Currently I have my Afro, people raise their fists and remark “African woman” when they see me. When is this going to end?
Can’t I as a woman of colour enjoy my freedom of expression and choice, to do whatever different hairstyle I may feel suit? Personally, I don’t need media or anyone to dictate to me how I should or should not look, I know I’ll be speaking for a lot of women out there.
- 1) having a weave does not mean, I’m trying to be white.
- 2) Having dreadlocks does not mean I smoke weed.
- 3) Plaiting my hair doesn’t mean I’m from the rural areas.
- 4) Having an Afro doesn’t mean I am an activist for black consciousness.
Just like I like to experiment with different fashion trends, I also like to experiment with different hairdos from time to time. I just wish I could be left alone whilst doing so – you know, given a little breathing space!!
Now let’s hear from you, what’s your take on hair regarding your particular race?