You know that feeling you get when you're about to do something drastic? Like walk out of your job, or break up with an eight year relationship? Well for me, it was ditching my hair extensions and chopping off my hair last year that fell into that same category.
To outsiders, I was twinning with Lupita Nyong'o.
To others in my Nigerian community, I was a mutant foreigner that no longer fit the standard beauty mold. I was different, which left me feeling like a reject.
Since it was uncommon to find well-to-do women in Nigeria flaunting short, unprocessed kinky hair, my short afro was called unkempt, “village-like,” and boyish.
Close relatives even deemed my hair as an accessory that would send my future husband running for the hills at first glance.
My new hairstyle completely defied the European standard my culture had become so accustomed to; leaving me feeling different and rejected.
Turning away from the Instagram universe—for my own sanity-- I began measuring my beauty against my own scale, and not society’s verdict.
Quickly, a tug-of-war arose as I tried to discern which side was lying and which one was telling the truth. Me or Them.
Isolation mode. I muted everyone out and had a real honest talk with myself.
I thought about all the harsh things said about my hair. Then I thought about the only solution that could appease my critics-- change it. And I laughed.
My African community was so distraught about the sheer sight of my “untamed” natural afro.
Not realizing that my “problem” was their reality: we all came from a lineage of kinky curly hair.
My hair wasn’t the issue.
It was the hand of society’s standards that still had a grip on my Nigerian community. That was the issue.
And to be honest, the only way my community was going to win this war against society, was by siding with the winning team: our hair.
Cut it. Iron it. Braid it. Perm it. Tornado. Hurricane. Cyclone. It will always grow back the same—indestructibly persistent.
Mother Nature couldn’t even convince our kinky, curly texture to change, so why did we think we could?
This newfound revelation gave me an answer for my harshest critics when asked about my hair:
“I’m an African woman who just so happens to have traditionally African hair. Coincidence? I think not.”
Their shocked faces only reinforced the conclusion I had formed when I first sat down in the barber chair--
Tough times never last, but tough people do.
And so will you, whether it’s a hair crisis or simply just life.
Does this story sound like a page right out of your diary?
If so, comment below.
Missed out on Part I? Read it here: Why You Can Live in a Democracy and Not be Free: My Hair Story