She was 12 when she first genuinely felt pretty. It was right after she had her unruly hair straightened for the first time. See, being a young girl with afro-like locks and dark complexion is a nightmare if you’re living in a country obsessed with silky straight long hair and perfectly white skin. It is quite understandable therefore that she felt like she had been freed from the curse of ugliness when the hideous curls disappeared — for along with it the mocking and teasing of people, kids and boys also vanished; And getting her first suitor (whom she really liked too) during that time just didn’t help as it only reaffirmed her twisted notion of beauty.
She maintained her straight hair for a very long time, until she was 24 in fact. Her confidence was at the highest every four months when it’s time to get that Hair-Rebond and she panics every last half thereof because by then her roots have already grown out long enough and her natural curls are starting to bust her.
I do believe that this woman is smart but her smartness made her see at a very young age that she was not conventionally beautiful in the standards of her society and she was not the type that would fool herself just to feel better momentarily. What can I say, wisdom is blinding sometimes.
I’m just thankful that this woman turns out to be a little bonkers. For if it were not for her craziness, she wouldn’t have tried to shave her head.
She was in law school when she decided to go bald. Malcolm Hall was too stressful she needed to do something crazy in order to preserve her sanity. She enjoyed being bald. It was a very liberating experience, she figured. But most importantly, Going bald was what paved the way for her to come to terms with the hair she tried to conceal and repress for more than a decade.
She was 24, and she saw her hair grow an inch longer by the month and thought it was looking really awkward. At the back of her head, she was preparing herself to be at her ugliest until her hair grows long enough again to be straightened out. She also conditioned herself to not fancy any guy during that year to avoid a sure disappointment. The 12 year old girl reminded this woman of all the negative feelings they’ve both associated with being naturally kinky. She knew it was gonna be the worst year (or two) of her life.
But, as cliche as it sounds, it’s true that things are never as bad as we imagine it to be. As it turns out, life with an awkward short kinky hair wasn’t as difficult as she believed it was gonna be. What’s even funnier is that she actually dated some people then who didn’t give a damn about the length or texture of her hair.
“OK, that wasn’t so awful” she told herself, “and people (read: men) aren’t all that shallow.” This supposedly smart woman belatedly realized that it was only herself, and nobody else, that was making her life feel too miserable.
She was 25 when she came clean and admitted that she didn’t love herself enough. And despite her stupidities, I think it was smart of her to know that she needs to be brave and face her fears one by one.
Almost a year later, I found myself sporting a full afro and was surprisingly enjoying it. For the first time in my life, I felt genuine and beautiful. Indeed, my natural hair made me different. But it didn’t make me ugly as I feared. If anything it made me found my element. Countless compliments outweighed the occasional teasing of some strangers. And people won’t stop telling me how much they loved the one thing I had hated the most.
It’s funny how I let my power become my weakness. All my life i’ve believed that exposing the real, natural me is suicide when it is actually what’s gonna make me shine. It turns out my Afro hair suits me well after all. I’d even dare say it’s the best hairstyle i’ve had so far.
I consider my afro hair as a personal achievement. Learning to love it means I am a step closer to FULLY loving myself. I won’t pretend by saying that I am now a hundred percent comfortable with the way I look sans all the make up and nice clothes. Sometimes, random insults still get the best of me, but I’m slowly getting to where i wanna be in the end. One thing is for sure though, I am not rebonding my hair ever again. 😉
I am 26 in four months. And as i grow older, life just keeps getting better for me. I know that it is just a matter of time until I become fully accepting of everything about myself – good and bad, and with all my imperfections (especially when it comes to physical appearance). My goal is to learn to fall in love with myself COMPLETELY and UNCONDITIONALLY — in its raw and naked form. even during the worst of days. in whatever state i find it in.
I AM PRETTY. It’s not an easy work absorbing and embracing it religiously especially when the younger version of me has lived believing otherwise but I guess that’s what my afro hair is here for now – to remind me that mine is a different kind of beauty. And life is not at all bad as i sometimes imagine it to be. 🙂
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