Written by Diane Tuffuoh
Image by kathleen_hair
If our curls, coils and textured hair could speak, they would have so many wonderful, insightful stories to share. Stories like, how our African ancestors identified each other’s tribes by their hair styles or how our enslaved ancestors intelligently used braids and cornrows as maps for direction to freedom.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane for ourselves. Do you remember your earliest memory of your hair experience? What did it look or feel like? Where were you? Who was doing your hair? What environment were you in? And most importantly, how did you feel?
Fast forward to today. In comparison, what does your hair experience look and feel like now? Does your past hair experiences impact how you treat your curls and coils today? Or would you say you’re mostly influenced by things like your friends, family or social media? Every curly head of hair has a story to tell. I’ll share mine with you.
My earliest experience of doing my hair is sitting between my mum’s knees, on our old fashion print carpet, in our living room whilst playing with my doll’s straight, golden synthetic hair. My mum was always so creative with how she styled my hair. Sections of twists, braids, cornrows embellished with bobbles and beads were some of her go to styles. When I was around 10, my mum relaxed my hair mainly for manageability as I became more independent in styling my own hair. I kept it up as I got older. I must admit, at the time nothing felt better than my hair being freshly relaxed. It was so easy to manipulate, from bone straight hair flowing down my back, to a slick pony. I even remember the days it was fashionable to gel down your hair to your face. How I loved those styles! I went through a stage of braiding my curls too. Then, as I got older, I started wearing weaves with a relaxed leave out, and later progressed to wigs before cutting my hair all off and starting again. Looking back, both my decisions and my mum’s about my hair were influenced by society, whereby fitting into western beauty standards was the norm. From conversations, books, films and articles I’ve engaged with, my lived experience isn’t far off from my fellow curly sisters’ hair stories.
Afro and curly hair comes with such rich culture and a conversation attached. We have seen so much movement over the years from people embracing their natural hair, to amazing incentives like World Afro day. Changes are also being made to accept curly and textured hair in schools, the corporate work place and the fashion industry. To contribute to this, I want to share with you a note not just to my curls, but to our future curls. Here it goes.
To our future curls,
Thank you for cultivating who I am even when I haven’t always known it. I appreciate every curly, swirly strand that creates my full crown.
Whatever style I decide to embrace, I will do so with pride. When you’re not doing exactly what I want you to do, I’ll have patience.
I will keep up a good and healthy hair regime, with products that love and nurture you. Hair wash routines will be as long or as short as it needs to be and treated as a self-care moment.
I will put you in protective styles when you need a break and leave you to do your thing when you’ve had your rest.
Finally, I promise to stand tall and proud with my curls in whatever environment I’m in. I will always appreciate each curly and coily pattern you make, forever and always.
Tell us what your note would be over on @ItsALifestyleHun