Relaxed about my Afro


Miss Ref all chilled with her cool afro

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.

Lady with dreadlocks

All Natural dreadlock chick

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).

Lady with weave

Lady with a weave for hairdo

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?

Sexy Hairdo

Colored woman hot hairdo

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?

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