I am my hair

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Besides the fact that Unilever, Tresemme and Clicks messed up with a racist campaign…second to skin colour, they chose the worst physical attribution of racial identity to mess up with. Hair!

As another means of implementing segregation, the white apartheid government used the pencil test to separate White people, from Black and Coloured people, by the texture of their hair. This was mostly done on people who did not fit neatly into one or the other category.

Off the back of this loaded past came the overly emphasised importance of the texture of your hair and the tone of your skin in relation to beauty in Black & Coloured communities.

Our Coloured and Black women have been made to believe that if our hair is not as straight as relaxer and a GHD could make it, it was unattractive. The intercultural pressures of ‘kroes en gladde hare’, dark skin and light skin, created physical hierarchies even within Black and Coloured communities. People are perceived as better looking than others mainly based on the above attributes.

Unfortunately, our philosophies of beauty are deep-rooted in what the white regime imprinted in the minds of our mothers and grandmothers.

In recent years though, women have come out boldly to smash the constraints of an inherited ideology about beauty. More and more women have embarked on a personal journey back to their natural hair, reversing years of relaxed and heat damaged hair. For many, this process of “going natural” is deeper than just hair; it is often one of self-discovery, reflection, unlearning and self-acceptance. It is difficult going against the societal grain of what has always been accepted as appealing.


Why I am offended by the advertisement!

I come from a colourful multiracial family. On any given day you will find the kroesest of hair to the straightest you could imagine as a Coloured girl. You’ll find faces made up of beautiful shades of brown varying from dark to very light. I can’t imagine explaining the obvious differences in appearances among our extended family to my daughter, nieces and nephews using the words ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’.

We live in a world where we are finally confident and adamant to teach our girls that their value does not lie in what others think of them or the way they look. That the colour of their skin, the texture of their hair and their gender does not make them inferior to anyone.

I’m offended that in addition to all that, I need to teach my daughter that she decides what her normal is. That it is not the preconceived notion of what those who know nothing about her think it is.

I’m offended because they decided that my natural crown can only be described as frizzy, dull, dry and damaged when they obviously, know nothing about it.

I’m offended because embracing my natural hair came with indescribable freedom. A silent but oh so loud protest against every single thing that aims to put a barrier around me.

On 4 April 2019 I posted an image on Instagram with this caption:

“I want to write a song called – I AM my hair. Wearing my natural hair has brought me so much freedom, so much courage to fully express what I feel in my skin. To wear what I want. Even if I previously thought “that probably won’t suit me.” Now I’m like, “I’ll wear it anyway and make it suit me.” I find there’s a peace that comes with not having to stay out of the rain and not going to the gym the day I had my hair ‘blow-dried’, not worrying about how hot it is ‘cause my hare gan huis toe gan’ of ‘mince’ – the heat of a Brazilian, the importance of a “swirl kous” JOR! Klom goete. I have embraced my crown (insert queen emoji)! Queening my way.”

I choose to say ‘I Am my hair’ because I decide what goes and what doesn’t. I decide how to wear it, for how long and why, all the while, owing nobody an explanation.

It is not about the porosity of the strand; it is about the power in deciding how I choose to manipulate the strand.

*These are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Vannie Kaap News.



17 COMMENTS

  1. Go girl and walk tall do not regret for being an African born natural who cares no one must tell you crab about your hair. The good part of it u not restricted to one hairstyle you can manipulate it as you ease. It’s not a mistake to be African.

  2. I love this! We need to remember that we don’t go natural, we return, natural is where we all started.

  3. Natural is what makez you, you…choose your Natural & be HaPpY in your own skin

  4. I am proud to be in your circle and have you in mine. Well said, well written. Well done hun.

  5. I am so against plastic hair. For what do you want that! In my gr7 class it took me 4 months to get the girls to get rid of their braids and be proud of their natural hair! Short, long or popcorns! If it’s long enough try some dreads.

  6. Profound my sister, going back to our roots, this is so powerful and should cultivate posture of self worth and identification.

  7. Well written Aiths, brings back childhood memories. Our hair was never gladde hare, but always beautiful and admired by many.
    Aren’t people being too sensitive and PC? I mean, aren’t we teaching our children the right critical skills to make their own decisions? Do we give media so much power to teach our children for us? Maybe, just maybe, the point is in us? As an africanist, I think certain values start in the home.

    • @Gloria unfortunately we live in a media dominated society. The media, especially social media influences so so many. Yes we should be responsible to teach our kids but we know they grow up in a world where we can’t protect them from everything. So if we can control the narrative of some of those outside influences. We should. We can’t have the media and marketers sending the wrong message while we try teach our kids the right message.

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