Most African women or ladies have a similar hair story about how they went from being relaxed to natural, it’s struggles and the happy endings. My story actually isn’t any different and my decision to go natural came as a result of wanting to change something about the way i looked: my way of owning myself.
Hair has always been a part of my identity not because i physically and biologically possess hair, but because i have been surrounded with hair and everything related all my life. My identity for a moment was embedded in the profession of my mother. “The hairdresser’s daughter” is what i was known as but i guess every Ghanaian child has a similar kind of identity- we all get our identities and grow under the shadows of our parents and their professions.
My mother was not just any hairdresser and beautician, she was and still is an extraordinary one. I can say for a fact that most of the things i know now i learned from my mum. I remember spending more hours at my mum’s saloon than at home and dreading it at a certain point. It was my home. I would come back from school and change my clothes there, have lunch and dinner and do my homework and play there. i watched my mum win multiple awards for what she loved to do and i believe my excitement and curiousity for hair began to grow from the multiple hair shows and competitions i had the opportunity to attend.
I had my first relaxer at the age of about 2 years old. According to my mum, the daughter of a hairdresser should always have pretty and beautiful hair and indeed i had that. Keeping my hair tidy was not something i struggled with. It was not even a question. It was a must and a duty. I also enjoyed it for the comments people made about how privileged i was being a hairdressers daughter and what not. I enjoyed it so much that it became who i was. My plenty hair received lots of praise that when i was told i had to cut my hair at about age six to start my primary school education i changed schools. My next school allowed for we the girls to keep our hair however we wanted to keep it and i remember being one out of three girls in my class who had grown out their hair.
I Changed schools again in year 6 and when i got into Junior Secondary School there was no escaping the down cut. The day i chopped off my hair was one of the worst days of my life. I felt so terrible and ugly because my shield and my charm had been taking away from me and i earnestly anticipated end of term breaks just so i could do something to my hair to feel pretty again.
My going natural was not because i wanted to follow the trend. I was just tired. Tired of seeing my hair the same. It had been relaxed practically all my life and i wanted some change. I wanted to see what my real unaltered hair looked like. I was curios. One time, i decided to go natural and stopped relaxing my hair for almost a year. But i couldn’t overcome the pressures, i found myself relaxing my hair for the purpose of travel/work. I did not want to have a not so attractive hair whiles i was away in another country. I came back from my travel and said to myself “this time around nothing is going to stop me”. Despite the lack of support from my parents especially my dad who one day when i said i was going to cut my hair said “over my dead body”. I wondered why everyone tried talking me out of it and realised they were just being African and concerned about me cutting my “long hair” as they described it. I realised its a Ghanaian thing. We care so much about length and most times we are not change oriented.
I am currently a year and a month natural and i’m loving it. I am happy about my decision to go natural. Advice? If you are convinced you want it then go for it.