I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within. 

First off,that is obviously not an original title. That is taken from the famous India Arie song,but it is just so fitting that I couldn’t help but use it to describe this post.

While I was sleeping a natural hair movement started taking root in South Africa and though I caught on very late I did participate albeit only for six weeks.

So just in case you didnt know,the South African apartheid regime initiated this horrible thing called the pencil test by which people of colour were divided by the sleekness or lack thereof of their hair. This was but one of the apartheid practices that sadly still divide our country and our people. People with ‘kroes’ hair are looked down upon and subsequently they spend hours straightening their locks.

While I understand that this must’ve been intense for the people in the apartheid era I dont exactly connect the dots in the year 2017. I was never subjected to a pencil test. But funny enough,the first people that made me conscious of my hair were my own parents. I wasn’t allowed to go out with ‘that bush’. My mother would bitch and moan every weekend while doing my hair,as if it were a battle to be won. When I started doing my own hair I was ill equipped,I wasn’t taught how and I didn’t have the right tools or products. When I was 19 I chemically straightened my hair for the first time. I thought it would wash out…it did not. I was mortified. Instead of curls I ended up with waves.

Then I moved out of my parents house and I was free. I was free to do what I wanted,with my clothes and my hair. And I chose to keep it straight most of the time. I then went on to marry a white man. The first person I dated ‘outside of my race’. And he wasn’t even really phased about this hair story. I sat every weekend with my rollers (hair curlers) as usual and when I went to bed I used either a scarf or a swirlkous. My husband is now familiar with the `limitations` my hair has and during winter he often makes jokes as he is running to the car screaming MY HAIR IS GOING TO MINCE,but its not meant in a derogatory way. He has dated white women with sleek straight hair and now he is married to me with not such straight hair and there are no issues. Every couple of weeks when I do wear my hair curly…and I complain about it..he always says he likes my hair curly,as if to say I don’t have to straighten it for him. But I don’t. I prefer my hair straight.

Curly hair vs straight hair

The ‘problem’ I have with the natural hair movement is that now I am a target. I’m seen as a conformer. But as a person who does not feel pressured by society to have straight hair,why does using my flat iron make me a ‘slave to society’ when it is my personal preference?

The other ‘problem’ I have is the grading system. Unbeknownst to me,they have names for the type of curls you have. And I fear that there are women aspiring to have curls that their heads will never grow no matter how much they twist and coil it,regardless of how long ago they threw their relaxers and flat irons away.

We all experience life on our own level of understanding. I have had so much shit happen to me that I honestly cannot sweat the small stuff. And in my opinion hair makes it on to the short stuff list. You do what makes you happy. There are so many women wearing make up,glueing false nails on their fingers,dyeing their hair,tinting their eyebrows and altering their appearances in some way or another.Some are doing it because of pressure and others do it because this is their preference.

I followed (at least attempted to) the natural hair movement for about 6weeks. And I stopped because I was tired. And broke. It actually costs a lot more to be natural. I bought flexi rods and new products. And then I had to find time to use all these new things. No more wake up and go,I had to actually spend time in the bathroom fluffing my bush just the way it wanted. My hair was weighed down and my ends were suffering. The naturals might argue that I needed to experiment with different products etc but honestly,I have had this hair for 31 years,I know what it wants. And it did not enjoy being constantly washed and fed products and being combed. I have now gone back to my usual ritual,which consists of a once a week wash and deep condition followed by an old school roller set and then a flat iron.

I am not completely anal about my hair. I wash and go when I don’t have time but I prefer having my hair straight because its low maintenance and effective. I don’t have to change my hair to suit anyone so I wear it in a style that suits me and only me.

So I admire the curly bushes on facebook,and I support the movement but I am not a follower. I only hope that this will continue to be a positive uprising. I sincerely hope that this isn’t yet another way to divide us. Respect someone else’s choice as they do yours above all.

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