Saturday, March 2, 2013

Afro-Kinky = Self Love ?--The Soul Sister's Agenda


From Facebook to Twitter, YouTube, through Google, many African women are increasingly embracing the idea to go natural; a development that has been hailed as a step in the right direction. I was in awe when I came across the "natural hair journey" of one of my childhood friends in the UK on Facebook.

Melanie went from stiff straight to full blown Afro kinky and she is still just as or even more beautiful. While growing up, two of us couldn't wait to relax our hair. I thought my natural texture was ugly so you can imagine how pretty I felt when my mum finally used the first tub of relaxer (and relieved that my hair would stop breaking combs). Unknowingly, I had brought in  the false belief that unless I had wavy or curly hair I couldn't be beautiful. When I moved to Nigeria as a teenager, it was the craze because if you didn't have relaxed hair you were seen as a religious extremist and if you didn't have a weave-on, it was perceived you were broke.


It makes one wonder about the power of perception. Black women who have finally become completely natural are suddenly overcome with feelings of liberation, enlightenment, wisdom. All of a sudden, they are more “black” and more “informed”, have more "soul" because they no longer put chemicals on their hair to alter their hair texture and are more “enlightened” than women who have relaxed hair. Right now, I am perfectly content in my decision to be relaxed and I am every bit a soul sista FYI.

Essentially, whether we choose to relax our daughters' hair or to encourage them to stay natural for as long as possible (like my mother did), what is important is that we emphasize what true beauty really is. The money, time and research we spend on hair products is amazing. However, what we should be encouraging in our girls is self esteem, self acceptance and self-love. Self love is not determined by how black you are or how kinky your hair is and certainly not spending hours staring into a reflective surface.

Let's promote true beauty. In the long run, it makes no difference if you look like "Miss World" on the outside, if you're really the wicked witch of the west, inside. Beauty is having a big enough heart to be generous. I’m not talking about money here. Have the heart to love unconditionally, to care for a stranger or many, and to share experiences when needed. Someone who takes into account others' feelings and puts themselves in their shoes, is truly liberated and wise. Being careful about how your words might make someone else feel. Whether it’s something simple like opening the door for the next person behind you or a strong charismatic glow, inner beauty takes many forms (just like an Afro).

A woman isn't only beautiful because of how she looks, she’s beautiful because she has a good head on her shoulders. Intelligence, brains and wit add substance to her beauty. Being well-cultured, knowledgeable about the world around her. This isn't about getting Einstein’s IQ, it’s about being curious about the world and seeking knowledge to know more about your surroundings. Knowledge makes a powerful, engaging and interesting woman a cultured conversationalist. You don’t want to talk to a woman who stares blankly at you dumbly no matter how silky or kinky her hair is.

Let's tell our daughters that instead of seeking a new hairstyle maybe what they really need to seek are enriching and valuable experiences.


"Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?...
  Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? ...
  Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity?...
   ...If I wanna shave it close
  Or if I wanna rock locks
  That don't take a bit away
  From the soul that I got"
- India Airie (I Am Not My Hair)


Ijeoma Olujekun

1 comment:

  1. It's funny that you felt even more pressure to process your hair when you were in a country that was and is full of people who are born with natural curls. It says a lot about how people are taught to perceive themselves.

    Hair is beautiful. If someone has bone straight hair, they can make it look just as good as someone who has hair that can't be held to any style on a rebellious day. We all need to appreciate what we have and take better care of our hair.

    ReplyDelete

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