Natural Hair

My Big Chop | Beyond the Hair

The Natural Hair Movement has been around for a few years now, and in this year in particular, the movement seems to have taken new heights. I watched from the sidelines as African American women praised their hair and fought to remove the idea that “good hair” is hair that resembles Caucasian and Asian hair.  In all honesty, I was in denial about it all, not fully understanding what the “hype was about”; but with time I started to understand why the movement was more than just a trend.

One random March afternoon, as ate my lunch at work, it hit me: why was it so important for me to keep processing my hair and wearing extensions that resembled White and Indian hair? In the same way that I was sick of colourism, the utterly disgusting form of social discrimination which I opening criticized, why was my mind hellbent on believing that my afro-textured  4C hair was ugly, unprofessional and untidy? What would I teach my future children and how would I possibly be able to instill in them self-love while constantly trying to alter my hair in order to fit into society’s euroentric standards of beauty? So before I knew it, just ten minutes into my lunch, my mind was made. I was going to get rid of the chemicallyprocessed hair and embrace the kinky, curly, beautiful hair that yearned to grow out of my scalp without being viciously destroyed…

After the decision was made, I struggled quite a bit. I refused to cut my process hair off and I opted for a slow transition. I tried to stick with protective hairstyles which I deemed were “true to my African identity”, but more than often I reverted back to long, silky, straight Asian extensions. Seeing my own hair made me cry and often made me second-guess my decision.

In August, when the young girls at Pretoria High School forGirls in South Afria protested for the right to wear their natural hair in afros and other African hairstyles, I felt like a wimp. Girls as young as 13 years old were ready to sacrifice their education at the prestigious private school in order to be “allowed to embrace their African identity and ethnic hair” whilst I moaned about how ugly my hair made me look, brainwashed by the evils of white supremacy and a eurocentric society.

Last Thursday night, I smiled as I saw a photograph on Facebook of two black toddlers playing in the mud in rural Kenya. I smiled because their innocence and beauty made me feel warm, but I almost cried as I realized how mentally enslaved I was and how my people are still enslaved too. The following morning, I took a pair of scissors and began to cut my processed hair off after only six months of transitioning…

My big chop goes beyond my hair. My big chop is a symbol of liberation and freedom. Letting go of my processed hair marks an important step in my life – a step towards being free of the scars that white supremacy, colourism, colonialism and slavery had forced upon my people and upon me!



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