Growth: 6 months’ worth
I have folders on my computer with photos of my hair month by month. The folder for month 3 doesn’t exist. Even just finding the one photo I’m including in this post was quite a mission. This, by far was the worst month in my hair story.
By the end of July 2011, I was so excited because I was going home to Tanzania (which we lovingly refer to as TZ) and meet my new niece. I hadn’t been home in more than six months and many people back home didn’t know I’d gone natural. It wasn’t something I felt the need to announce. I’d had the short fro for just over 2 months and was feeling confident, different and new. I was buzzing with excitement but little did I know that when I checked in at the airport that I was also leaving behind my confidence.
I’d gained a few kilos while I was here and some people weren’t shy to point that out. And coupled with my new hair do, my new ‘look’ wasn’t met by many positive reactions. I wasn’t there for more than a few days before I started feeling ugly, overweight and very insecure. People knew me as a relaxed or weaved girl, but there I was with a freshly chopped afro and a curvier body. I hadn’t minded it at all while I was in Jozi, but it seemed to be the thing others really focused on and pointed out. I was at a family gathering halfway into my trip and besides my weight gain, there was nothing I was spoken to about. I kept trying to remember why I went natural and that I’m still at the beginning of my journey and once it grows out I’ll look prettier. Before I left Joburg, I’d planned to get a weave or braids while in TZ as a protective style since it was winter here. But by the second week, that idea was out of the window. I went and got a weave to feel exactly how I ended up feeling afterwards: pretty, attractive and girly again. I instantly noticed the difference in people’s reactions and for that little while, I was relieved and felt confident again.
I hardly wrote on my blog, partially because I was trying to enjoy being home, but mostly because I didn’t really have much to say. I didn’t like my hair. And by then it was clear that my hair’s curls weren’t soft and bouncy like I’d seen in some YouTube videos. It was dense and very tightly coiled and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it anymore. So unlike the previous months, the 27th of August (3 month anniversary) almost went by me and I wrote this heartfelt review.
” ‘What did you do to your hair now? I preferred it much more when it was
short’…ummm…make up your mind! No, let me make up my mind…I
really want and need to get to a place where I know that no matter how I
wear my hair, I’m me. Hair or no hair, natural or not, I’m me and the
people in my life should love me regardless. And I should feel pretty
This is one of the only photos I have of myself in month 3, and it was with the weave. Although the weave was put on out of sadness and insecurity, it did help me get through the next few weeks since I wasn’t ready to face my little fro again. I have nothing against weaves, I think they’re a great protective style and way to give yourself and your hair a break. If taken care of properly, a weave can do wonders for your hair and you’ll notice the growth even more once you take it out. I was just sad when I came back to Jozi and realised I’d let other people’s opinions affect me and my confidence so much. It also opened my eyes to people’s obsession with hair and how it can define how attractive people think you are.
There are always going to be people who don’t like the way I dress, talk, behave or look. Even when I was relaxed and rocked weaves, I still had nay-sayers but I kept moving. So the way they react to me now I have an afro shouldn’t matter as much, as long as I’m okay with it. It was a lesson learned. A hard one but I know now.
Next timeline post: Being Natural – 4 Months In
Hi Aisha, I think I'm about this stage also. I've spend most of my life with short hair, but I'm now growing it. It has reached a stage where I feel it's time to plait in a protective style, most stylists say they can hold it properly. I can't keep going to work in the save afro combed hair.
I did the BC about three months ago and funnily enough it was well recieved by most people until now. We r having our yearly family reunion here in Nigeria and my older sisters keep talking about how ugly I look . One particularly keeps insisting that beautiful weave-ons are my identity, what im known for and not the mess ( her words) on my head. She says I look old which im certain I dont. Hoeever two days ago she bought me a lovely weave-on and now I am tempted to fix it just so that everyone will accept me. I used to be regarded as really pretty before and now it hurts that just bcos I went natural, im like the beautiful swan turned to an ugly duckling. *sigh*
You've really inspired me, and I only just found your blog in March. I was struggling with the same exact thing except I let mine really manifest and the last 2 years were spent in braids constantly. I got tired and decided not to throw the hate at my own hair, I've now been taking care of it and pampering, 2 months later and its fluffy and sprouting like grass. I think the hardest thing for me was not being able to find people with my same hair texture 4b/4c or expecting to have those loose curls and constantly being told you're hair is to hard, that's not a neat look…I even had an ex tell me he hated short hair on women (that may have been the last straw) and got asked once if I was now going to come out as lesbian. I'm from Kenya by the way, living in London and would also go back and forth. Anyway I let it really get to me, for too long. So thanks for being such an inspiration for me to wear my hair out. I even started a blog to document my own growth and freedom. I haven't posted much as it's exam time but do check me out if you can. (asiliasali.blogspot.com)
Aww, thanks for your comment. It can get really difficult and it's not easy to find many 4C naturals online either sometimes so I'm glad you've found inspiration in my blog 🙂
Very touching! This is very similar to a blog I have been wanting to write for ages. You would think African appreciate the natural look more but no! You have to be 50+ for them to accept it but even then, they don't consider it pretty. We're too too brainwashed! Eeish!
And I think many people outside of Africa think we African naturals have it easy but it's still an issue for us. It's really sad that being natural is considered 'out of the norm' or 'rebellious'. Very, very sad 🙁
found you via kurly kichana..love your fro and the color too, youre making me miss my hair.been going through all the post n i like how style, creatively.
Aww, thank you 🙂
I totally get the irritation and insecurity that comes with family constantly commenting (negatively for that matter) on your hair. I have exactly the same issues when I go back to Kenya to the point that I almost automatically say, "Yes, I haven't combed my hair. Yes, I did that on purpose. And yes, I like my hair as it is" to anyone who even so much as glances at my 'fro.
I've been natural most of my life, but used to straighten my hair beyond recognition and only really started looking after it in the last 2yrs or so. I had an aunt who once commented on the fact that I was straightening my hair everyday and how bad that was. Funny thing is, when I 1st started rocking my fro, she was all like "So, why have you not done anything to your hair? You mean you haven't combed it?" (with a very disapproving tone in her voice) To this day I wish I had turned around and told her – but you were the one who told me that I shouldn't straighten my hair all the time – no straightening, means my hair's in an afro?!. But I didn't and it's probably for the better.
Anyway, it's not easy and may never get easier. But like you said, it's all about accepting ourselves for who we are and knowing that we are not defined by what's going on on our head!
Love your blog!
Hey Cheryl.I'm a natural living in Tanzania and i have also been in your situation. I don't understand why i can't wear my hair out uncombed even if it looks beautiful. It annoys me how society can't accept the way i wish to rock MY hair simply because they believe that hair should be worn a certain way. I can't count the number of times i have been called 'dreaddy' even though my pompadour was clearly sticking out of my woven hat. How did people get to judging and hating our natural texture when not-so-long ago every1 in Africa had natural hair?