Hey there Fro-lievers, first of all I just made that up while typing. It makes the worlds sense, if you think about it, believers in the fro, and FroEver.
Shout out to those of you who come back to my blog regularly. I see you. I appreciate you.
And second of all today I was supposed to do a post about different ways to style a TWA, seeing as though I went through my second big chop not too long ago. But the way my life is set up, this did not happen. So it was truly a godsend when the beaut that is Tshidi Green mailed me her hair story.
Tshidi Green, Miss Mamoledi Sundowns Western Cape 2016, was kind enough to share her hair story with me and with you. Infact this is far more than a hair story. This is a story about resilience, incredible strength and vulnerability.
So I do hope you enjoy.
If I had to describe my hair journey over the last year I would have to go with a the words “Tranquil but highly confused”. An odd description, I must admit, but one which a very dear friend of mine used to describe my soul at some point in my life. I feel that it is only fitting to adapt this description of my state of being to the state of my hair as my hair, specifically over the last year, was a direct reflection of who I was, what I was going through and how I chose to cope with it during the various stages of the tremulous year we all refer to as 2016.
The story of the “Tranquil but Highly Confused” hair of Tshidi Green is therefore not a romanticised story of embracing the natural beauty of my hair but rather one of a confused little girl trying to find peace within herself by claiming autonomy over her hair. A story far more complex than this post will account for but one which I will gladly delve in to over a cup of coffee if asked kindly to do so (which I probably won’t finish because I actually don’t like coffee).
I, like many others, very quickly realised that despite all my introspection and self-love Youtube binges 2016 was just not going to be my year. My extremely impulsive decision to dread my hair came early in 2016 after being emotionally and mentally battered and bruised, after having my entire being put under question and crying myself to sleep almost every night for weeks on end. After all of this and experiencing the very situations that make being a woman so painful and hard to bear I turned to the outlet which seemed to be the least self-destructive at the time, my hair. I realised that I needed something that would give me some form of strength and at the time getting my dreads was exactly that.
I, without hesitation, agreed to have my friend dread my hair knowing full well that she has never touched a crocheting needle in her life and was working solely on the tutorials posted on our trustworthy source, Youtube. I remember sitting in her room staring at myself in the mirror and thinking to myself “Tshidi….Tshidi, Tshidi, Tshidi, what are you doing? this looks horrible! ” but feeling too proud and too determined to back out of my decision. I had committed to this and I was going to pull through and so I did.
I made my big reveal just over a month after getting the dreads and decided to add that extra pinch of salt by going completely blonde.
Naturally, the big transformation was not welcomed with open arms by most of my family, but with my new-found boost of self-confidence, self-assurance and strength I could not be bothered less. I was just doing me, for me and it really felt good!
Knowing that I might be questioned on cultural appropriation I tried to keep well informed about the origins of dreadlocks and the symbolism of it and one of the pieces which resonated with me went as follows:
“Dreadlocks are more than just a symbolic statement of disregard for physical appearance. [They] hold that bodily, mental and spiritual energies mainly exit the body through the top of the head and the hair. If the hair is knotted, they believe, the energy remains within the hair and the body, keeping a person stronger and healthier” -www.knottyboy.com
Looking back now, my short-lived dreadlocks did exactly that or rather gave me the metaphorical sense of strength which I needed to ensure my improved mental health. I remember having long conversations with my family about my decision, them trying to decipher why I would give up my “beautiful hair” and theorising that I was merely trying to win brownie points from my black friends not understanding the full extent of what I was going thru and what having those dreads meant to me. Something which till this day I don’t think they fully grasp.
And so, 2016 continued, and though I would love to say it took a turn for the better post my “new hair, new me” transformation, it did not. It actually went worse, not because of my dreads, definitely not but because 2016 just wouldn’t give me the pleasure of it hey. But, alas being the brave little independent woman that I am I soldiered on, flaunting my blonde locks one day at a time.
Months past and eventually I was faced with the reality that 2016 simply wasn’t my battle to win and that even the bravest of soldiers can’t always save themselves from the heaviness of the world. My locks, and all the faux strength which it represented became too much for me and I decided to let go of it all and choose vulnerability. I realised that I was no longer being strong for myself but for everyone else and in doing that I was crumbling and would continue to fall. I decided to choose myself. I decided that only I knew what my happiness would look like and that I needed to start chasing that. I decided that if I was ever going to be the best version of me I needed to break away from the very thing that was preventing me from being exactly, my degree. I decided to put my degree on hold without ever consulting my parents (they still don’t know..). I took the time to breathe again. A decision which I wholeheartedly belief saved my life.
Again, I found myself staring at the mirror, this time with a pair of scissors in my hand and dreads neatly piled up on the floor, thinking “wow, Tshidi, what am I going to do with you?” but feeling overjoyed as I basked in the glory of the weight that was lifted off my shoulders.
I think it is important to note that at no point throughout this entire process, even till this day as I write this post, did I actually love my hair itself or how I looked with it but I loved knowing that I was comfortable enough within myself and brave enough to take that step for myself. And despite how horrible I thought I looked and despite the many days I struggled to maintain my hair I was happy with my decision, a happiness that bubbled from within.
Seeing my hair come to life and learning to embrace and love everything which encompasses it is a constant reminder that amidst all the confusion I am completely at peace with who I am becoming.
I’d just like to thank Tshidi for being so kind as to share her story.
And I’d like to thank you for reading.
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Remember to love yourself, one strand at a time.