Disclaimer: This post is based on my own experiences only. It is in no way meant to discourage or break down the views or perspectives of anyone else. It is my personal experience and opinion being conveyed here. It is also not meant to force anyone into thinking they have to take on this journey too. We are each on our own hair journey, natural or not, and today I share mine with you.
“Jou hare lyk bietjie kroes hier voor. Wanneer Sheen jy dit?” (Your hair looks coarse, when are you going to Sheen it?)
“Wanneer doen jy jou hare?” (When are you doing your hair?)
“Ooohh ek sien jy het jou hare gedoen. Lyk weer glad vandag!” (This cannot be said in English).
“Jy het ‘n pittekop”. (And neither can this).
“Gaan jy só uit?” (Are you going out like THAT?)
“Kyk hoe duk is jou hare. Wanneer relax jy dit?” (Look how thick your hair is. When are you going to relax it?)
And my favourite:
“SUFFER FOR BEAUTY”. Words that I have truly come to loathe.
This list can go on and on and on. Most women of colour (if not all of us) have been subjected to these kind of comments. We have been called a “kroeskop”, and who wants to be called a kroeskop? I mean how rude! I remember saying on many occasions already, “ek het nogal nie kroes hare nie”. People who know me, know that I do not have a lack of confidence. And ever since I got out of my fantablikkie and realized that I have been living a lie and I should just embrace my roots, all of a sudden I became even more confident and could tell myself like Lady Gaga does: “I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way”.
We grew up in a society where, I suppose, it was believed the straighter your hair, the more beautiful you are. I have heard of men who will never go for a girl just because her hair is not blow dried and flat ironed (brother, if you are one of them, can I just say, you are missing out!). But no judgement here, we all have our preferences and everyone’s taste is different. Nonetheless, we grew up in this society indoctrinated by a certain belief of what “good hair” is. If you hair isn’t straight, or glad, its kroes. That’s it. If you have some nice curls that would be okay but best believe that hair better not be curly for too long. And so you have to Sheen, Mediscalp, relax, spend hours on end blow drying and flat ironing and pray to the hair gods that your hair comes out straight. And then 2 weeks later, your African roots start to show. God forbid anyone sees this, because then your friends will know you do not have naturally straight hair and you subject yourself to mockery and abuse. We all remember what high school was like, don’t we?
All my life I hated doing hair. My mother and all my aunts can attest to this, I have NEVER liked it. They had to literally pull me by my hair on wash day for rollers and blow drying and Sheening and relaxing that today I still have an inherent hatred towards doing hair. With tears streaming down my face I would have to sit through what I thought was torture, so much so, that today, I am a mid-twenty-year-old and I still hate a damn roller and hair dryer.
I was one of those people who were dead-set against natural hair. I am not afraid or ashamed to admit that today. “Hoekom moet ek met ‘n kroeskop loop as daar produkte op die mark is wat my kan laat reg lyk?” I am literally laughing at myself now. Let’s blame it on the brainwash. We were all forced to believe that our natural beauty is not good enough, that society will not accept us and boys won’t like us with our kroes hair. But again, if you prefer the chemical way, I have no issues with that. I did it for years until one day I just decided to stop.
Then one day I asked myself: “What is this ‘reg lyk’”? I started to ask my friends about natural hair and I started really educating myself about what natural hair is, where it comes from and if I decide to do it, how do I do it. I can tell you today, this journey my friends, although it may seem just a physical one, I can assure you, it is not. It is a mental and I think most of all, an emotional one too. It is about truly accepting yourself and realizing, you, woman, you really are perfect the way you were born. It is about being true to who you are. It is about going against what society believes is “right” and deciding for yourself today, that you will no longer be held down by those chains. Where being called a “kroeskop” or “bossiekop” are words you become proud to be called instead of thinking they are insults or derogatory. It is in that moment where you set yourself free from all shackles that others have tried to tie you down with because you are not what society believes is beautiful.
I started following the Cape Town Naturally Support Group on Facebook. This group is my lifeline. It makes me feel so good about myself to see thousands (and growing by the day) of women so proud of who they are, where they come from, and who they are on their way to becoming. That is what the natural hair journey is about. It is about so much more than just your physical appearance. We are not being “lazy” – ek gaan jou stamp. My curl friends will understand why I get angry if people refer to us as lazy. Rocking natural hair is fun but it is also hard work. I mean, I am brand new at this and I am already seeing how much work goes into it! Imagine what the ladies with their big bush of curls and fro’s have to go through!
Without realizing it, 3 months had passed since I last put any chemicals on my hair. I was about to move to South Korea, so I wanted to “look good”. And as I was packing, I looked at the Sheen standing there and thought to myself, I am going to leave you just here, and I am going to Korea with my duk hare. And I did. Five months in I decided enough is enough, and I went scissor crazy and chopped of all my old, chemically treated and heat damaged hair. What a liberating feeling this was! This was the best decision I ever made for me, and for my hair. My hair is growing faster than ever, and most of all, it is HEALTHY.
I am a lucky girl. Korea has no shortage of natural shops and pretty hair accessories. I am a big, big fan of anything Argan oil, and it also works really well with my hair, and here I can literally find it in any natural shop I walk into. So every time I go out to the city I am always coming out of a natural shop with a bunch of hair products! My good friend is also sending me some Curl Chemistry, so I am very excited about my year here.
The day I decided to no longer conform to what others believe is beautiful, to embrace my natural beauty for what it is and cut off (no pun intended) any and all forms of negativity in my life and about my hair, that was the day that I became a happier, freer person. And as I am on this journey I am knowingly and unknowingly inspiring other women to do the same, as my curl sisters before me have done for me!
I wanna be a bossiekop. I can’t wait to rock my big bush of curls and I will do it as confidently has I do everything else in my life. Because me and my curls, we’re good friends."Me and my curls – we're good friends",