She was born with puffy, thick, curly beautiful hair which was healthy and long when it was unadulterated. Unfortunately her hair’s unique form and texture was short-lived, thanks to society’s Eurocentric appreciation of beauty.
She was told to cover up her ‘shame’ before she would be seen as beautiful, be employed or married. Your hair is just too kinky, her loving but sadly confused mother would say and on a bad day she would add ‘you are too dark skinned my angel, life would be too difficult for you’.
‘Mama can be crazy sometimes’ she would say, but when she turns on the television and picks the magazine. Oops! Could mama be right?
Then daddy comes home with a doll for her and says, ‘this is a beautiful doll for you, my dear!’ to her utter dismay, the doll looks just like the women in the magazines. Ouch! Confusion sets in.
The straw that finally broke the camel’s back was when the pretty girls at school would not play with her and nickname her, ‘kpenkpeshi’ (coarse hair).
She believed her natural hair was spongy and ugly. Beauty was white, with long, silky, straight hair like that of the he-goat’s beard. Not inferior, less attractive kinky, puffy hair like hers.
‘Mama, please put relaxer in my hair! And do whatever in order to have it silky, straight and shiny’ she asked her mother.
Little did she know that the hair relaxer would completely utter the chemical makeup of her hair which is likely to cause scalp irritation, hair damage, hair loss and chemical burn.
She applied the relaxer to her hair for years but the length remained the same. ‘Don’t worry’ said her hair stylist, ‘African women do not have good, long hair anyways, you can always put on Peruvian or Brazilian weaves ’.
The day of redemption was when 13 years old Zulaikha Patel and her fellow schoolmates from South Africa protested over racist hair policies at their school.
Indeed, Zulaikha Patel and her fellow schoolmates knew better.
Why has the African woman been made to assume her natural hair is not beautiful, presentable and acceptable causing her to destroy her hair using all forms of weaves and relaxers that are detrimental to her health?
Why should others’ standards of beauty be used as the yardstick in measuring the African woman’s beauty?
Perhaps the African man who is blind to the African woman’s natural beauty should also be blamed. Her confidence and beauty would abound, knowing her African man sees her and loves her for who she is.
Her hair is now weak and thin.
With scissors she cuts off her damaged hair and grows her beautiful natural curly, kinky African hair. Her name is daughter, sister, niece, cousin, auntie, grandmother and mother of Africa.
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