As a 13 year old child living in Nairobi Kenya, my hair was natural.
It was long and thick a-down to bra strap length.
As I look back now it grew because I washed it every other week and blowdried and put it in what naturalistas now call protective style.
As teenage angst crept in, I went in search for identity, acceptance and a connection. Music videos of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Aaliyah and 80’s Hollywood movies told me for me to be considered acceptable I must be thin and have straight hair.
So I begged and begged my mother to relax my hair.
In the beginning, it was awesome, my hair was thick, long, straight, with body however little did I know how much work was required to take care of such hair. Using all the wrong products, products meant for Caucasian straight hair did not help either. So by the time I was in my late twenties, due to neglect and over processing, my hair stopped growing and the ends started breaking off.
I tried everything that I thought was ‘right’ to reverse the damage-weaving, trimming, relaxing my hair only after 3 months. Some damage was prevented but nothing made my hair grow. It was still tired, dull and lifeless. Six months later, after doing alot of research on natural hair I decided to transition to natural hair, and after another six months I cut off my permed ends and went natural. I have never looked back. My hair has repaired itself and is growing.
While I have no problems or issues with relaxed hair. It just didn’t work for me. And based on the number of women with receding hairlines, I’ve seen walking the Nairobi streets I dont think it works for alot of other Kenyan women. Not everyone has the genes to withstand the chemical process of straightening Afro hair.
However because of little or no education on how to manage Afro hair, Kenyan women are using poor quality hair products that are considered ‘affordable’. We tolerate cash-minded hair stylists that are looking for quick fixes.
And due “societies’ pressures” we continue to straighten our hair.
Last month, I saw a woman with a bald spot on the crown on her head. She had a curly kit. I mean its 2015 who still wears a curly kit? My heart broke. Who lied to her that she should continue putting such harsh chemicals that are doing more damage then making it soft and manageable?Did she know she was balding on the top of her head?Was she that reluctant to change her hair regime?
insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Continuing to process over-processed hair and expect it to grow, be healthy won’t work. Wearing weaves constantly and not expecting it not to break won’t work. Conforming yourself to unrealistic westernized standards of what beautiful hair won’t work either.
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Natural all the way.Good stuff Rahab