By Amandla Karungi
Sometimes we can tell it’s over. Sometimes we can’t.
When it comes to natural hair, one YouTuber, Ijeoma Kola, who formerly went by the name Klassy Kinks posted a vlog where she said her natural hair journey was over. She was not cutting it all off or getting it ‘relaxed’. She would just be continuing her life with her hair as per normal.
We have reached the peak; of not just accepting our hair but celebrating it. We have learned new ways. We have unlearned old ones. Ijeoma said she no longer felt the need to post videos of twist outs and wash days and other such activities which had become a normal part of her routine. Her natural hair would just be hair from now on.
I came across the natural hair community like a group of hippies on a sunny day standing outside their caravan on a foreign land. I joined them and found solace in the eye opening truths they dispelled to me. And so, with baptised manes [yes, some people’s hair has a name] dosed in pre-poo, shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, cream, sealant oil and a gel for the edges, we set out to change the world. Not just for a style or a season but a life altering decision to embrace our identity.
My hair was one of those which spat out extra product. Anything after leave-in conditioner, lay awake on top of my strands like dandruff after I had spent hours doing all of the above treatments to make my hair look or act like the texture it wasn’t. It is true that badly combed, thin, burnt relaxed hair is still considered more professional than shrunken natural hair combed and left to its own devices.
But then I also realised that natural hair products are commercial products too, regardless of being created for African hair or being owned by people of African origin or descent [or so we are led to believe]. It is still a business [which is okay…we do heavily support the artificial hair business industry so we might as well support our own] and is highly susceptible to marketing gimmicks. Did we or do we need all these products? Are we or were we trying too hard, just like the relaxers before them, to “tame” our hair. I love versatility and it would be great to have my hair obey me for a change. But to have to use a whole bottle full of product for it to sleek down, or for my curls to look a little less 4C, was not only expensive, but also in many cases, a huge waste of time.
Another YouTuber who recently went natural, talked about an experience in a Jamaican salon where her friend, in response to question about whether her dreads would look like someone else’s was told that “Your hair will do”, what you hair will do.’ And that is what my hair has done all this time. Whatever it wants.
At four months pregnant, I somehow got a compulsive need to cut my hair short. And armed with a growing foetus and a fast changing life, I finally got the courage to do what I had attempted [and threatened] to do for about a year. I cut it several inches short. I felt liberated.
And then, it grew back. Luscious. Strong. Even when my scalp rejected faux hair and suffered with bad dandruff, the hair on top refused to break. In six months, it was back to the length it had been for the seven years I had kept it. And then, I gave birth.
I had read about postpartum hair loss, but because it did not happen immediately, I believed that it was one of those many pregnancy and post pregnancy hormone effects I would not have to deal with. Three months postpartum, the dreaded hair loss came by and plucked the edges and sides off my scalp until it was if i had a ‘french cut’.
The hair will do, what the hair will do. And now I know, that no amount of okra as hair gel, rice water as a rinse, Apple Cider Vinegar as a dandruff remedy, coconut oil or shea butter as a moisturiser can have more influence over what genetics, hormones and a good amount of water can do. I can now safely say, that my natural hair journey is over. The hair will still be natural. But the journey is over.