Thursday, 30 March 2017

Don’t Touch My Hair

After listening to Solange's new song Don't Touch my Hair, for the first time I did not give much thought to it until a few months ago where I carefully listened to the lyrics. After doing so it was almost like had an epiphany of something I should have been aware of for many years ago. Making me think that I have for so long tried to unconsciously 'suppress' my roots and cultural background by straightening rather than rocking my beautiful curly hair that I now much adore. But was that the truth?I personally don't believe that I was suppressing anything, but I was neither aware of why I did not appreciate my natural hair that was part of me. In my mind, I just liked the fact that I had the option of strengthening my hair which for me made life easier, and while giving this actions further thought, it made me worried more. Not because I think strengthening should equal the fact the one does not embrace their roots and culture, but because in my case, I never thought twice as to why it did so. What mind me even sadder was thinking about all the people that I know and met telling me how beautiful they thought I was when wearing my curly hair, something that never really got to me.

Looking at myself in the mirror after taking a shower I realized that it was all kinds of wrong not to embrace my hair. So instead of pulling out my GHD straightener, I wrapped my hair in a towel, dried it, moisturized it and let it be. My first thought was 'how amazing it was to not spend 30-40 minutes strengthening my hair' followed by my second thought that moved more than I thought it would, 'why the hell have I not seen how fabulous I look before now! I am legally blind or something?'. I actually loved it. I loved it because it was as if I had unlocked a part of me that I had not yet explored. It was a part of me that was to ensure and insecurity over what other people would say if I didn't leave up to their beauty standards. But not anymore.

For weeks I google and looked at youtube videos of how to maintain my curly hair healthy. As I realised that I knew nothing about how to style my hair properly and only had one product that wasn't even meant for afro hair. I actually felt a bit ashamed and sad of not knowing what to do, which led me to my next thought. Why do I feel it's a 'taboo' to embrace your natural hair, especially for women of colour? That is when it all made sense. Taking a closer look at the recent article where the model, dj, and TV presenter Lilah Parson pointed out that I can see how some women of colour find ways to fit it. In response to Leomie Anderson's article, Lilah revealed how the fashion industry didn't seem to embrace all different shapes, sizes and hair types. Showing to a few emails sent to her by several casting call agencies expressing that afro hair was a no go. Making me sit her with my mouth wide open and wondering what the future will look like when I have children of my own. Will they also be prone to this kind of discrimination? What will I say to my children when someone comments about their hair looking messy asking them to do something else with it? This is something I don't anyone to go through and therefore I appreciate and look up to people like Grace, Ginny and even little Farouk James, for letting their curls loose and embracing it. These are people that we should look up as they are the ones who are not afraid to be themselves and most important, encourage others to do the same in their own unique ways.

Does this mean I have completely stop strengthening my hair? No, as I personally love straightening my hair whenever I go out, have a party to go to, or before going travelling. But the point of all this was for me to identify the underlying 'issue' and be grateful for what I have and embrace it. For now more than ever have I enjoyed letting my curls loose, treat it and respect it as I should've done ages ago. 



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