Braids…Second time around

So I did my braids again. Unfortunately, they only lasted two weeks the last time because I have terrible flakes! This time around, I went to my Senegalese friend’s hairdresser who charged me nearly forty percent less than I did last time (paid $3 compared with the $5 before). She does it out of her home which takes out the rental premium that those who do it at the salon charge. There wasn’t much difference from what the previous girl did, except that this new lady did it smaller and tighter (couldn’t lay my head down the first night). It was also less convenient as I had to walk there, but it was less than a ten-minute walk which is nothing. I just need to advise her next time to do it a bit bigger (makes it easier to take out) and looser (so I can sleep at night)! Here are a couple of pics. I really can’t tell the difference :(.

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Your hair…it’s, it’s…

Natural! This entry’s title was the reaction to my hair when I went to braid it at the salon beneath my apartment. This was after the lady had quickly blow-eyed it and actually begun to braid it. In fact, she had already done two braids when she stopped and furrowed her brows in confusion and said the above. She then followed with, “It’s not pretty! Look…it won’t be pretty! You have to…” At this point, one of the other girls (there were three of them altogether) ran and brought out a box of “Dark & Lovely” to show me.

It was then my turn to furrow my brows – in annoyance! I shook my head and told her to continue, and that I thought the hair looked fine. She had deemed my hair problematic because it was not straight enough and its texture would not match that of the ‘attachment’ I was adding – I had also asked them to braid it normally and not too thinly and this was sure to make even more visible the texture differences. Anyway, I certainly was not about to perm my hair then – if and when I choose to do it, it will be on my own terms.

At this point, I want to take a moment to congratulate ‘white’ people for making every other ‘race’ hate itself so intensely! For someone to look at their natural self and deem it ugly just because it doesn’t LOOK like a magazine cover! And black women are the worst off because of the whole hair thing.

One of the reasons I was so excited to come to Africa was the thought of the sheer possibilities of what I could do with my natural hair, and economically so. And then I arrive and it seems that these women have completely forgotten what their own real hair looks like. They certainly do a lot of braiding (single or plaited) but they usually perm the hair beforehand and it seems the ‘higher’ in class one goes, the more ubiquitous the weave. To be honest, I get tempted to want to perm my hair periodically purely because I am running out of ideas of what to do with my natural hair but meeting people like these women makes me shelve that thought completely. And this whole “your natural hair is ugly” affirmation, by even our own mothers, sisters, cousins and etc is further aided by some of our brothers’ preferences for mixed women and White, Latina or Asian women with lighter skin and straighter hair.  But let me not even go in that direction.

On a more positive, a former classmate, a Ghanian (who never had an issue braiding my natural hair) told me “natural hair” was presently “trending” in Ghana and salons are seizing the opportunity to get creative and offer natural hair enthusiasts diverse ways of styling their hair. But then again, the Ghanaians tend to be a bit more advanced in all things hair.

To boot, my hair was not braided particularly well, and they charged me double what they should have! A friend told me afterwards the 4000 CFA I paid was usually for when they want the plaits to be so tiny, that they’re almost indistinguishable as plaits. I also thought she did it way too quickly for the very next day, the ends were loosening and I had to redo them myself. Needless to say, that was the first and last time they saw my natural head.

The braids.

Actually, my point with this article was not to persuade in any direction. Permed, natural, weave, to each her own. But it was to stress that our people ought to do a better job accepting ourselves, especially in our natural states, natural hair, browner skins. The argument, “I don’t look nice with natural hair” is a bogus one, especially when most black women who make that assertion have ALWAYS had permed hair (i.e. since they were children) and do not really know what they look like with natural hair. Some like it, some don’t (and revert to permed hair) but ALL come away with a greater understanding of the issues and complexities surrounding our hair. In short, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! But remain respectful of those who are courageous enough to do so.