So guys, this post is abit different but it is an experience that I want to share with you. You probably know by now that I am a hypocrite! I love my daughter’s natural hair, I tell her that her afro is beautiful (because it is!) but I wear straight wigs, curly wigs, side part leave out weaves, braids, twists, anything but leave my natural hair out. It is that bad that I have never gone to work with my natural hair. Ever. The thing is, I always knew I was being slightly hypocritical but to be quite honest, I didn’t care. It was my issue that I never addressed or confronted. It wasn’t until my daughter pointed to a white barbie doll and said she wants straight hair like the dolls. Oh that shocked me to the core! I thought buying black dolls with afro hair was enough, but it wasn’t. Wow, I did not expect it at all. When she was 2 she loved her afro hair and just two years later, she wanted straight hair. It reminded me of how much I disliked my ‘tough african hair’ as I was growing up, to the point where I relaxed it and my hair broke badly! I really didn’t want to pass on my issues with my hair
What am I going to do about this? I told Stephanie that no her hair is beautiful the way it is. And how much I love her hair. I knew that response was not enough though. I decided that I am going to have my hair out for a week (yeah! I know that isn’t long enough, but baby steps guys!) I added a afro ponytail to give me volume (I need volume mate! Or else I will look like Gollum in Lord of the Rings with 4 strands on my head! My hair is that thin!)
It’s weird because I was nervous the night before I wore it. I know, I know, it is just hair but it is just one of my unresolved issues. I knew I could overcome it though. Same way I overcame my insecurity with my full lips and now wear lipstick (hence the name of this blog). I couldn’t do that before.
THE DAY CAME….
I had washed and dried my hair the night before. I added my eco styling gel and put on a scarf overnight so that I have my hair in a sleek ponytail. Oh I loved this gel. It was so easy to apply and it didn’t flake. It held my tough nigerian hair into place for the whole day. My hair texture is 4C, really tight curls. Pepper grains are an everyday occurrence for me!
On the day, I took off my scarf and added my ponytail, using only the clips with the ponytail (don’t do this ladies! The ponytail almost fell off when I was running for the train so add extra clips for security!) My husband loved the look, but to be honest, I just brushed it off, like what else cal he say without dying?!!! If he tried to say your hair is horrible, then I won’t be responsible for my actions!!!
Stephanie lovvveeeedddd it! which gave me an extra confidence boost. She wanted her hair like mine which was a massive ‘mission accomplished’ stamp for me.
Honestly I forgot about my hair being out while I was going to work, well apart from my ponytail blowing off in the wind! When I got to work the comments started flooding in. ‘Wow Temi, you look lovely, you look younger, you look fresher’. ‘Temi, you are always changing your hair, I barely recognise you half of the time’. ‘Oh I see you are rocking the Serena Williams look today’. Now the last comment annoyed me, because I was thinking, well what look is that? My natural hair is not a look homie! But I can’t really blame them because they honestly didn’t understand that my hair was not naturally straight and they have never seen my natural texture. Oh I am the only black girl in my team, so I figured that this will happen.
We had several discussions about the actual texture of my hair, how long is it etc. Yeah, my hair was the topic of discussion for the day! Gosh! At first I was happy to answer the numerous questions, you know I am educating people, then I started to think wow! These people, white people might I add, had rarely seen black hair in its natural form. One of my colleagues said I should have left it out in an Afro. Towards the end of the week, I couldn’t be bothered to slick down my edges, I just brushed them, so my edges were fluffy.
Surprisingly the response was alot more positive than I thought it would be. Fine, I had one or two questionable comments, but overall people loved it. Now, I wasn’t doing it for people’s validation….ok ok I’m lying, it was a nagging thought at the back of my mind. I always thought people will see natural hair as ‘unprofessional’ and ‘untidy’ which isn’t the best in a professional environment.
(here’s a quick selfie at the train station. Excuse the blurriness!)
Wearing my natural hair to work showed my that I need to take charge of my insecurities. Now I am not saying that because I had a positive experience, everyone else with. Racism still exists. We all know that. But who the hell cares! I let other people’s prejudices affected my perception of something I was born with. Someone’s negative perception of me should not force me to act how they want. It’s the same with the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype. You start unconsciously conform to these stereotypes. So in conclusion, this empowered me in a way that I thought it wouldn’t. Even though I have my wig on now. I will comfortable rocking my natural hair to work without a shadow of a doubt. And the key driver for all of this, is that my daughter can see that natural hair is something to be proud of.