So todays feature is once again someone very dear to my heart. She was one of my first hair crushes, my cousin Dominique. I am very grateful that she shared her story with me and is allowing me to share it with you too.
Like many other coloured girls, I grew up in a community where hair formed a great part of your identity. I too, spent lots of money on Ladine, Dark & Lovely and countless hours in hair salons. Many afternoons of my childhood were spent on bedroom floors bonding with combs, rollers and hair pins.
However, unlike many of my peers, my hair was not the be all and end all of my appearance. I was a swimmer for a large part of my childhood and into my teens, which made it difficult for me to consistently have my hair blow dried. I would often resort to my terrible wet look or corn rows. In my late teens, like many girls I became more conscious of my appearance and naturally wanted my hair to be “socially acceptable.” On multiple occasions, I attempted to grow my hair out and do the “big chop” but my conservative nature would not allow me to do so, I always felt the need to conform. This conformity would be carried with me throughout my first year in university, which did not work in my favour.
Admittedly, I have never been good with my hair; in fact I’ve always been lazy. This became frustrating for me when I started studying in the USA. I couldn’t afford a blow out at a salon because it was $40 a pop! Whenever, I tried ironing my hair, I would set off my room’s fire alarm and quite honestly I just did not have the time and patience to teach myself how to maintain my relaxed hair. During my second year of university, due to health reasons, I had to cut off a considerable amount of my hair, for the first time in a long time, I was not about to fit into the social hair norm.
I was nervous and anxious, as it was the shortest my hair had ever been and it had been cut into a style that I had never tried before. At first, 60% of was my natural hair and the other 40% relaxed. To ease myself into the transition, I kept my hair blown out for a period of time, but naturally I got impatient and went for the wet look. I had embarked on a mini adventure, trying out different products, fiddling with different amounts of moisture to see how it would look. You ladies know the drill!
For me, it was amazing to see the different reactions to my change, from my family, to my community in Swaziland and my friends in the States. I remember walking into my friend’s home, her sister giving me a look and saying: “What did you do to your hair!?” to my grandmother not being able to fathom why I would leave my hair “wild” to my American friends (both black and white) absolutely loving it.
It was a blessing having taken the plunge while in the USA. The access to products, although pricey was miles better than what we have at home. My friends were supportive and had a great amount of knowledge on how to maintain natural hair. For two years, I tried various products until I found the right one, I spent long nights with my friends trying home made remedies to being frustrated that my hair could never go into a ponytail. My routine changed dependent on the product I used. For the most part, my routine is a wash and go look, with a deep condition once a month and braiding in winter.
Thus far, it has been a great journey. My hair and I have an understanding, it knows when I’m lazy to give it TLC and I’ve learnt to accept that it has a personality of its own. I won’t lie to you and say I’ve mastered how to look after my hair. Honestly speaking, I will forever be lazy when it comes to my hair. Most importantly, it has been a liberating journey, being comfortable with my natural hair has unleashed another side to me that I never knew existed. I’ve gained so much self-confidence and in many ways have become more adventurous and have become so comfortable with being me.
To all my coloured girls that are battling with their hair journey, my advice to you is “be bold, be the best you.”
I really hope you guys enjoyed Dominiques hair story. I believe that all hair stories are important and inspirational. The amount of strength and determination it requires to rebel against societal norms and return to your natural state and stay there deserves applause.
So keep an eye out for next months first Friday of the month Froever Feature Friday, and until then love yourself.
One strand at a time.