Embracing Your Natural Hair: Winning The Internal Battle

And so this morning my heart and mind are awake. I am wondering. Wandering. I am thinking back again to this piece that I wrote here, a celebration of sisterhood.

Oh but to be a young, black, curly-haired, full-lipped, wide-hipped, educated, woke, grounded woman is quite the journey. The gruesome, purifying, edifying internal battles we endure.

Am I beautiful enough?

How should I present myself to the world? Am I a tom-boy? Am I artsy-fartsy enough to pull off blue braids? Can I rock a waist-length weave? Should I leave the house au-naturale with no make-up? Am I more like so and so who loves to wear lots of accessories and dress to impress or is my style more simple and understated?

If I'm natural should I compensate for it by.. but wait.  Why do I feel the need to compensate? Why do I feel like my curls are not enough?

Should I just stop being "radical" and wear synthetic weaves for the rest of my life? But weaves make you look so clean, so sophisticated.  But why do I even think that? Do I hate myself? Is this self-hate? Do I love myself enough?

Do I manifest my full potential, which I know is inside me?

What am I so afraid of?

Do I have to be natural to prove I love myself? 

Who brought up this natural business in the first place? 

My curls just don't fall right. I hate my texture. It's too kinky. 

Arrgh! Maybe I should wear curly weaves. That's an in between right? 

No, but natural hair is a powerful statement of self love. 

But I'm not my hair anyways, so what gives. 

Hush. 

Hussshh. 

Breathe. 


And then in pure stillness I heard her respond in words bursting with pure rays of sunshine: 

"To the girls with hair like that of a wild forest, 

Your hair is as dark as the night

and as dry as the desert. 

For it has swallowed the sun.

It doesn't fall straight, 

nor does it comply with the laws of gravity, 

but instead it is a wild forest, 

Where the roots of its trees grow out of the soil that is your scalp,

and a wonder it is, 

why these trees persistently insist on reaching for the heavens?

To the girls with hair like that of a wild forest, 

'Why does it stay up?' they ask.

But these kinds of questions frustrate you, don't they?

Because they do not intend on celebrating its existence, 

But what they do is question it.

Because peculiar is what they think of it,

And for that reason it is rejected and shamed. 

for its supposed "ugliness" and "unusualness".

But don't fret, child.

Ugly is just another word used to describe 

the miscomprehension of beauty - not the absence of it, 

and unusual is a term used to forgive whatever is ordinary, boring

in hopes of shaming whatever dares to be different, unconventional, 

and your hair is exactly that. 

It is a wild, rebellious forest

that grows unapologetically, 

So you mustn't loathe 

Or fault it

for its refusal to fall, 

and submit to conformity. 

To the girls with hair like that of a wild forest, 

Do not DeForest your curls, kinks and coils, 

To comply with the Eurocentric idea of beauty, 

But instead love and conserve its unique magic.

Exhaust the soil that is your scalp

With moisturising, hydrating oil - not lyes. 

And if you must, 

Wear a crown of beautiful, blooming flowers

Because something as majestic as it is, 

deserves something lovely."

This piece here is an exploration in self-portraiture in partnership with Acquelline Wanjiru, a reader of this blog and a soulful poetess! She tagged me on one of her Instagram photos in which she mentioned a poem about coily hair. As soon as I'd read through her poem, I knew I had to feature her on the blog. Her piece was perfectly timed - I'd written the first part of this post a while back but didn't publish it because it just didn't feel "resolved". As soon as I read Wanjiru's poem I knew I'd found the other half of the post that I'd been looking for! 

Self-portraiture is quite literally a reflective process in which I examine what it truly means to be bodied as I am: African, woman and educated in a world that doesn't always embrace bodies like mine.

The joy of this journey has been in writing to you and hearing you out when you respond in your comments. I'm encouraged in knowing my experiences resonate with you, in knowing that some of my innermost internal battles are similar to your own. Just like the beck and call between Wanjiru and I, we've found comfort in the encouragement and affirmation that we share on this blog every day. 

The struggle, the ongoing, internal battle that is loving and embracing our kinky curls and sun-kissed skin.

But everyday we're still here, we win. 

Love & Sunshine

Tabitha.