Over the past few years, the natural hair movement has dominated quite a bit. I am here for it. As ever, my little country, Jamaica has been pushing boundaries on the international stage regarding what’s acceptable as beautiful hair. I am here for it!
A few shining examples are the recent Miss Jamaica Universe, Davina Bennett sporting her fro while snagging her place as 2nd, runner-up in the Miss Universe competition. A spot many people worldwide agree fell short as we feel she deserved the crown. But 3rd out of 92? We’ll take it. And we’ll keep coming too, so watch out world!
Other notable Jamaican queens pushing hair boundaries are Miss Jamaica World 2015, Dr. Sanetta Myrie, finishing as a top 10 contender on the world stage with her gorgeous locks.
Miss Jamaica Universe 2014, Kaci Fennel-Shirley rocked her short mane on the global stage too, ending in top 5 for the Miss Universe 2014 crown.
Even before then, there was Terri Karelle Griffiths (now Reid), Miss Jamaica World 2005 who rocked the fro and puff quite regally.
Despite this liberating shift for freedom and the appreciation for the beauty of hair in all its forms, some are, as ever fighting to turn this beautiful thing ugly. Scores of women (and possibly men) now feel entitled to spew all kinds of advice and commentary about hair, effectively attempting to ostracize black women who choose to get relaxers. It’s unfathomable that in 2017 we’ve seemed to abandon the concept of choice and preference. It seems it’s perfectly acceptable to have damaged un-cared for natural hair, as opposed to well maintained relaxed hair.
If I had a dime for every time some self-righteous woman thought it was a compliment to tell me how nice my hair would be if it was natural, I’d be rich. I am very appreciative of the natural hair movement as a black woman, and love that women are enjoying the freedom and beauty of their crowning glory. It’s our right to do so. Sometimes I think I want to go natural because it’s beautiful, but then when I think about it, I know I don’t really want to. It’s also my right to decide that it is not for me. My lifestyle, hair type and temperament do not support it, nevermind the actual transition. I know natural hair is versatile, I also know that if I were natural, I would spend so much time straightening my hair, there’s no doubt of severe heat damage, so what is the point? Simply, I’m not here for it. I am not interested.
I’m relaxed, I prize the ability to apply some moisture, take my hair down from a wrap and scrape my hair into a ponytail or bun and be out the door in 5 minutes. Anything lasting longer than that thoroughly annoys me. When I need a relaxer, roughly every 4 weeks, it takes longer to do my hair in a way that I deem presentable. Suddenly, a ponytail or a bun can take as much as 15-20 minutes to craft, following many a grunt and frustrated sighs on my part.
This has always been the case, but now that I’m a mother, it’s increased tenfold. The last thing I want to do is bother with spending 15 minutes combing through a tangled mess of 1/2 inch new growth. By the time I need to redo my hair in another ponytail, it will be tangled again and in need of a comb out. My scalp will start to become sore and tender. I don’t have whole days to dedicate to a washing regimen, or thousands to spend on an embarrassing collection of chemical-laced products we all like to think is ‘organic’. I would not be doing the transitioning thing either. After braiding for two or three months, I would hack it off. That’s just me.
I get a braid every few months, primarily because I don’t want to be bothered with hair at all for a few weeks. However, no matter the style, it won’t last more than 3-4 weeks.
Hair Type (4c), Tangle Prone, Fuzz Loving
Just this past summer, I pushed the limits (I know I really shouldn’t have, but I did) and kept my braids for 7 weeks. Yikes! My hair matted at the roots, as is its tendency. When my hair is braided though, it grows twice as much, sheds twice as much. So much so, it’s my go-to’ recovery/quarantine. If I’m experiencing breaking or excessive shedding, I get braids and the problem usually corrects itself.
The point though is that I choose to have relaxed hair. Every 4-5 weeks, I to choose to re-affirm and reinforce that decision. Please don’t tell me I’m trying to be white, or self hating, or ignorant, or any other half-assed attempt at reasoning to appear ‘deep’ when potholes on Jamaican roads are deeper than your level of cognitive thinking, or attempts to be so ‘woke’ that the lack of sleep is making you psychotic.
Stop. I know what chemicals are. I went to school too. I have Google, just like you. Natural hair is beautiful. Let us bask in the liberty and appreciation for hair of types. Let us unite to prevent someone being told afro is unprofessional, unkempt, ugly or distracting. And cease and desist from trying we all must be natural to appreciate our blackness.
I might go natural one day, but it ain’t today… or tomorrow… or even the day after that.