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“I am not my hair,” is something I constantly tell myself, because my hair is my insecurity. Growing up as a young girl, my hair never concerned me, I did know that my hair was not “normal,” that is, it was not similar to every other little girl. I knew this because my mom told me I did not have a lot of hair, especially in-front, from my hairline. She didn’t say this in any insulting way or anything like that, everyone in my family joked to some extent about it, but it was normal and all love. My mom did so many things to help my hair grow better, sometimes my hair showed better growth, other times it was just bad.
I never really noticed this as I was growing up, I just recall this from pictures, my mom got all the hair products, natural and man-made she could find for my hair, she made sure that whoever was braiding my hair was really skilled. She took good care of my hair, and I love her for that, because that meant I did not have to worry about my hair on my own. Part of the reason why my hair doesn’t grow well is genetics, my dad’s mom, my beautiful grandmother has a really scanty hair, I got it from her, so it wasn’t caused by braiding too tight, or using unhealthy hair products and chemicals on my hair. I was just born with not-so-great hair. The other reason I think, is just care, my hair is fragile and thin so it doesn’t take much for me to lose a few strands, I would have to really take care of my hair and use some silk caps and pillow cases and what not to make sure I'm keeping the little hair I have on my head 😊.
When I got into high school, that’s when I started being a bit more conscious about my hair. I went to boarding school, so my mum was not really there to take care of my hair, and we didn’t have skilled professional hairstylists to braid my hair, I had to depend on my fellow classmates. I did have some hair products my mom would get me that I would use in school, but that was about it. My classmates were accepting of my funny looking hair, one of my classmates said she actually liked it, that it was unique, I love her for that. I had this female teacher who teased me about my hair almost every time she saw me, I was mad at it at first but I got used to it, it's not like I could do much about it. We had berets though, so I wore mine all the time, and I actually liked the way it looked on me, some of my classmates hated wearing theirs. But being in an all-girls school really helped me with my hair situation. No one really talked about it, I believe most of my classmates just thought it was caused by too much braiding and if I used this or that it would grow right back. Except, it wasn’t like that, I may have to live with it forever.
As I grew older, it became more and more of an insecurity, I started to realize that, there were a lot of hairstyles I would love to do, that I couldn’t do because of my hair. To make you understand this more, I love having extensions, the way extensions were put on, was, your natural hair would be braided into cornrows, then the extensions through the wefts would be sewed onto those cornrows, into whichever form you liked. So, you could have side partings, center partings or bangs (fringes), and voila! You had long flowy hair, because naturally as a Nigerian, my hair is woolly and spongy. The way my hair was made it had to do some of these hairstyles. I couldn’t really do box braids, I could but it wouldn’t look good, I would always wear a head band to cover the front, and I didn’t like the look of it. Whenever I had weaves on, I would try to have a hairstyle that covered the front of my hair, such as bangs, and this limited my hairstyle choices. As time went on, I continually hid my natural hair, I was envious of every other black girl in my university that could do all these amazing hairstyles both with braids and weaves, I stuck mainly to weaves because braids didn’t give me much of an option to cover the front of my hair. And wigs as well, they are great. Part of the reason why I was even more insecure was because of what I saw around me and on social media, yes, some women are still out here with weaves on, but when people had their natural hair out, it looked amazing.
But I began to realize that my hair was not my only insecurity once upon a time, I was insecure about my skin, my burns, but I got passed it, so why couldn’t I do the same for my hair. And that’s when I started thinking of cutting my whole hair off, I entertained the thought for a few years but I finally did it at the end of 2018. I wanted to have a skin cut, like bald, but when I got to the salon, I chickened out 😀 and had it cut low enough that there were still stubbles, I believe it was a number one for the clipper settings, I am still new to cutting my hair again, I used to in junior high school. I did not carry my hair out like that just yet, I still had my wigs to turn to, but I still wanted to be all of myself, if that makes sense. There is nothing wrong with wigs, weaves and the likes, but to me they were all cover-ups, I have always been the type that likes to leave their natural hair out once in a while, I just didn’t do it as often as I would like because of the way my hair was, and still is. I would have scarfs or hair bands on, to make it look more pleasing, and frankly I didn’t want to have to use it. It may just be all in my head and nobody gives a rat’s face about how my hair looks, but I was terrified of showing it. It was only the people that were dear to me that knew how it looked, and whoever was making my hair. I became tired, like really tired of feeling like I had to hide my hair, I just wanted to be me, I realized I didn’t have two lives, I didn’t want to waste the one I had, not living authentically with all that I was given. Social media helped in a way as well, because I started to see that there are quite a few women with my kind of hair out there making it work somehow (a lot of coins are involved). So, currently I'm rocking a low cut outside my house, without a wig, I'm still self-conscious about it but it takes time, right?