Why is it so, so hard to get my hair cut? I wasn’t aware that most hairdressers can’t really cut naturally curly hair – one of the things I was never told about life in the UK! Ever since my move, as a curly head, I’ve struggled to get a decent haircut!
And another thing I wish someone had told me before I moved: somehow (some of) this side of the world still views straight hair as beautiful while anything else is not as beautiful!
📷 Wix Media
Coming from South Africa, a treasure trove of diversity and having always embraced the natural state of my hair, I was disheartened by the reaction and negative perceptions of many in London, home to one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world (fact!) and, particularly in the workplace.
“How did you get your hair to do that?" they'd ask.
Such comments were disheartening, to say the least. I spent many an early morning battling with my curls to achieve that ‘perfect smooth and polished’ look as my natural hair just felt out of place (even inappropriate) in some British office cultures.
I was told my curly hair added to my quirky personality and I would sometimes playfully apologise by making fun of my ‘crazy, wild, unruly’ hair comparing it to a ‘golliwog’ (gasp) featured in children’s author Enid Blyton’s Noddy stories – a comforting reminder of my childhood and at that time (and place) had no negative connotations (i.e. that I’m aware of).
Completely unbeknown to me over time, the word golliwog has increasingly been seen as racist and is associated with racial stereotyping?!
In the early years, I almost always wore my hair straight for a job interview after being advised I would probably stand a better chance of getting a job offer. Apparently – and might I add, to my utter surprise – there’s something about sleek, straightened hair that just looks amazing and would help you smash your job interview and land you your dream job every time!
It seems my curly hair is somehow tied to my performance. Curly equals wild and carefree which translates to ‘incapable’.
Over the years I have learned that most commentators operate out of ignorance, therefore I simply refuse to ‘adjust’ myself because others don't understand.
Down with the flat-iron which I gifted to my mum in SA - out of sight, out of mind - as I now fully embrace the attention my hair brings. These days it’s mostly in the flattering form of the Disney princesses Tiana & Moana seen through the eyes of my adorable little niece Arabella – refreshing and super-cute!
And the moral to this story is – sistas, rock your natural (straight, wavy, coily, curly, etc.) hair and own it proudly!¹
¹ Watch hair flick pick ‘Nappily Ever After’ on Netflix about a thirtysomething black woman’s journey toward embracing herself and her hair, forbidden by her mother at the age of 11, from getting into the water at a pool party lest her straightened hair reverts back to its natural curly state?!