Saturday, May 16, 2009

Identity based on hair?

I can count the number of times I have done "bob marley" or "braids" in my life. I am lucky, I have enough hair to work with and I think one should always try to work with what one has. So I try to take care of it and treat it right. I eat a lot of vitamins and food with that particular thought in my head, that I have to accept my hair as it is. Also, I am an extremely impatient person so just thinking about sitting for hours for anything puts me off. I am very impatient. I do not do weave ons either. The itching and the heat is totally crazy!

However, I know many women that use weave ons and wigs and for real, some of them really need it. I remember one of our neighbours, mama Frank, the day I saw her without her wig...I almost had a heart attack. She had a huge patch in the middle of her head. She was bald. If na me wey bald, I swear, nothing no go make me no wear wig... haba!

Then, there are those that might not need it but just think they look better in it. Nothing wrong with that either. I love long hair and I have always admired women with long hair. If I had very short hair and there was no hope of it growing longer, then I swear, nothing will stop me from wearing weave on or wig. Lai lai, una no go fit hold me.

Now, unto people wey dey use "natural" hair. I applaud every woman that takes the time and energy to continue working with their own hair, no matter how hard it is. This goes for both black and white women. Do you think anybody wakes up in the morning and their hair is naturally glowing and flowing? lai lai. No need to look far. Turn on your Tv, you will see them washing, blow drying, spraying etc. By the way,it is not only black women that have problems with hair. My friend Agi, if you see her curly hair wey dey break go bow.

Then there are others who do not wish to comb their hair anymore. It is also called "dread locks". Although, I just call it "people that do not want to comb their hair". I have been tempted many times to go this way because I really hate combing my hair. As a child, this task was left to my mum. I hated combing my hair. I still do. As an adult, I am always happy to visit my family because sooner or later, someone will not be able to stand the sight of my hair and offer to comb it out. I have a couple of friends who have gone this way, Andre from Ukraine, Vedrana from Croatia, Marcin from Poland and Chichi from Nigeria. I am always jealous when I see them because I know they don't have to ever think of combing their hair again. By the way, of these four people, only one of them is a rasta.

Now, so how do I look at this thing called hair? For me, hair is just part of your body, its just something that is there, like your fingers or bum, or nose. Some might not even say so. Some might say they are dead cells. You look after it because it is part of your body and it can be beautiful like all parts of your body. I particularly enjoy taking care of my hair because that's the part that is easiest to do. The rest parts need much more hard work. You have to work hard to have muscles here and there, lift weights, bend here , bend there. The face is much easier to work with it cos u don't need to do anything...u are pretty much stuck with what you have...

Now, to my point.

I have been following with amusement a particular argument that seems to be cropping up here and there on blogville. It is a strange one for me because my idea about identity is quite different from a lot of people. First of all, I do not base my identity on the normal race, nationality, religion, etc, the usual common factors. Over the course of my life, I have realized that being ME has more to do with my character and principles in life than being Nigerian or Christian or whatever. From a very early age, I already knew that that is what I want to be defined as. What I stand for in life, is who I am. That's it. Simple.

Of course, I understand people having national pride, or pride in their colour, etc. If that is something that defines them as human beings, then, enjoy.

Now, to the point.

How the hell does hair become your identity?

But lets say, being African is very important to you and you will like to make that statement loud and clear for all to know,

Is it your hair that defines your identity as an African woman?(you can replace "african" with black/black american/ afropolitan/whatever)

For me, it is very hard to understand because I do not see anybody's hair and think "oh, she is a proud African woman" or "that's not a proud African woman". I might admire your hair if I think it is nice, but I swear I won't get any further impression on who you are as a human being until I get to know what you stand for in life. That's where I'll know if you are truly a proud African woman or not. I won't make that assumption based on the fact that your hair is "natural'. Also, there are many afro carrying human beings who totally despise being African/black. They might just have an afro because its easier for them, or because they have no choice.

Hair is just fucking hair. It does not make you any better or worse than you already are. At least I do not judge anybody based on how they wish to carry the damn thing.

I can not understand how anybody can be making a statement with hair. It's just hair. When I talk to my friends, it is their character I see, not their fucking hair. You can be "morro morro" for all I care. E no concern me. You fit carry hair like mammy water all the way down ya back. E no concern me.

What I am concerned about is, Are you a good human being?


Funms-the rebirth said...

Well said!!!!!!! like India Arie sang...i am not my hair!!!!!!

theicequeen said...

lol i want to "like" this post so bad! Like on facebook...

it's just is not a politicala statement..and then people will be going all judgemental on you for it..why haven't they started harrasing people for not wearing ankara and kente all the time? wait..i think they's just today ( i almost typed "hair" for pun sake :P) anywho, here today, gone tomorrow, long today, short tomorrow..abi we no get choice and "freedom" again?

Tigeress said...

to we Africans it's just hair but it's really a big issue amount the black americans.

baraal said...

Waffarian, this gets a 10 from me because it captures my thoughts on the matter perfectly. I feel bad for those who have issues with their afro hair. That is mental bondage of a kind that even changing hairstyle will not help much but i really resent people that insist on projecting their issues onto everyone else. The same goes for those who think it is their place to define what is truly African or black.

I've found this particularly with North American black people, as if we are all supposed to view our hair as a problem or whatever. If you disagree, the response usually is something like: oh, you're oppressed, you just don't know it. Na by force? I like my hair as is, i like that it is versatile and can be made into any style that takes my fancy and i totally exercise the prerogative to wear it as i please. Whiteness/Africanness/The Man do not come into it at all.

juiceegal said...

Exactly tigeress is right its the black americans that take issues like this to far as i'm concerned its just hair and i basically go with the flow,the argument about using hair to make a statement that a certain somebody put up a post about is serious bullshit.........Hair whether natural or artificial does not define me and people should get over this issue and tackle the more serious issues in life.This post is seriously needed.

Sting said...

Thank u very much for this post!

wordmerchant said...

girl you won't belive how people argue over baffles me

I don't perm my hair because i choose not to..not for vigilantiness but chei!! i cannot rest for love nor money. When ever i "carry" my hair for lack of better words i get questions like am i trying to prove a point? when am i perming my hair, the list is endless

To each to their own.I just want to scream its just freaking hair!!!!!!!!!!

*sign..these people will not give me hypertention

Doja 2.0 said...

I understand what you mean about hair being just hair and should not really be used to define someone, on the other hand when i see some weaves they just make me irritated, and i think well if God wanted us to have hair that long or that colour surely he would have given it to us at birth!

Ms. Catwalq said...

I remember once some guy said to me "No offense, but I cannot stand women who wear weaves. I think all women should wear their natural hair. Cos a weave is an attempt to be white"
I flicked my freshly sewn in, indo-china hair and said "is that so?" and moved on to something else.

Hair is hair is hair. It is for you to play with, destroy and manage. If you don't see anything odd about black skin and blonde hair, then neither do I.
People who think that natural hair is the sign of "strong black sistah" are just projecting their feelings if listlessness. They need to have an image because they don't know that they already have, my hair is permed and has been braided, woven, matted, threaded and has had other people's hair glued in and sewn in.
And I look FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OPTIMISTIC_alyzzz said...

YES I AM !!!!
i cant even believe i am saying this hair!!!!!

excuse me but WTF does hair have to do with who i am. u go girl!!!

Sandrine said...

Hi Waffy,

The hair issue starts really early.I have two daughters.One has her father's hair (has more kinks and is more brittle),one has my hair (more wavy and longer).I can't tell you how many times the one who has her father's hair has asked me why she doesn't have my hair.I had to buy a book "I love my hair" and repeat to her everyday that her hair was beautiful and that she should like it the way it is.There is a lot of pressure here (Miami) on black/mixed women, even at school with girls about looks and hair in particular. My oldest is now almost 8 and thankfully she finally accepts her hair the way it is but it has been a struggle. I believe in order for any woman not to have issues with their hair, it needs to start with her parents or family members.We need to give our daughters a strong sense of self. And I do agree with you that hair is only hair and that the most important is to be a good human being.
Take care.


Secret Diary said...

I do not discriminate whether a woman wears synthetic hair extensions, dead person's hair or born free gorilla hair on their head. Who am I to judge? I'm human, too; full of sins, imperfections, bad habits, etc. I judge people by their actions, what comes out of their mouth and their intentions. The finest looking man can turn out to be a 100% asshole. The most beautiful model woman that walks like a peacock could turn out to be the worst monster that the Almighty God ever created. I know what I'm talking about. "God, why, why, why...?" ...So, ladies, keep wearing those "human" {dead people's?} hair. I would never join the bandwagon of calling for women to carry “Disclaimer Card” of “No human / gorilla / dead person was harmed in the making of my hair / wig.” I don't and won't judge anyone. Love God. Have a pure heart. Don’t be a whinging moaner Lisa unnecessarily. Don’t give your man unnecessary grief. Make lots of money. Live your best life. Wear your jumbo size theatrical halloween afro wig with black pride. That’s all that matters.

Nice Anon said...

I like this post a lot. you have raised a lot of valid points because i believe people who focus so much on hair are those that haven't got anything better to do. Realistically when it comes to human identity then the "hair" isn't even considered at all.

Anonymous said...

Spot on my dear!
There is a lot of witch hunting with hair in the black community in the west. The conspiracy theories and issues too much, although if you trace the history of slavery you can understand the angst.
What I do not understand is Nigerian women who moan about the lack of support for natural hair, wetin? My mama still plaits her hair with thread occassionally, but with trends, there are less people who can still do it well(just look for a deeper life or Apostolic faith sister, they will set you straight)
I am black, i am proud, i have natural hair,(but you stil change your hair color, put rollers in it,and some press it straight occasionally). In North America, anytime i see a loc wearing sista i always look at them with "corner eye" because over 50% i have come across are dating or married to "others" so, maybe some of them them get issues, and some like sheep just follow without knowing the other person's issues behind their decision to go natural.

p.s. I just did the big chop!!!


mizchif said...

My sentiments exactly.... IT IS JUST HAIR!!!!

And if even if i pay for it, it automatically becomes MY hair.
Tenk you very mush!

Adaeze said...

great post. Hair is so overrated. Character is underrated. It needs to change.

LusciousRon said...

Funms is right. Its just hair why define a person by some strands of straw?

Sugabelly said...

For the record I never said that your hair is your identity, but people have to realise that if you are a Black person, OTHERS will ALWAYS judge you TO A CERTAIN DEGREE based on your hair. And this is what I take issue with. People of other races NEVER have to worry that other people might find their natural hair offensive, but Black people do.

I believe that ALL people have the right to wear their natural hair WHEREVER and WHENEVER they please. If people of other races are allowed to then why are we the ONLY race that is not allowed to do so?

miss b said...

HAIR MATTERS OH! Let us not lie to ourselves, it is a big issue for all women especially black women. Why is it that we statistically spend more money on our hair than any other race? We have been subconciously brought up to associate long natural hair with beauty through repetitive re-eonforcement from child-hood, look at cinderella and jasmine, do they have afro hair?
I grew up in Kaduna, surrounded by hausa girls with long beautiful hair and they see it as thier crowning glory, and we believed that using extensions is sad/ugly!
As i have grown up, I know it has nothing to do with people's personalities but we cannot say it doesnt matter especially for young children!