Dupe Oyebolu
by on August 8, 2016
Part of doing something that is not exactly popular in the larger culture that one is surrounded by is that chips might grow on your shoulder. My first chip was planted a few days after I cut my hair. I went to a barber to clean up the cut, and the barber cut it much lower than I expected. I was initially uncomfortable with it so when I went to work the next day, I felt a tad insecure. And then my trusty co-worker was like, “ahn ahn! Every time your hair is just shorter and shorter! And it looks like it was a carpenter that cut this one sef!” Ah, it burnt me mehn, I can’t lie. But I just formed strong face and was like, “is it your business??? Is it your head??” It didn’t matter what I said though, the seed of that chip had taken root, and it was watered and watered every time someone said, “but why did you cut your hair???” or “you with all this your wahala sef” when I explained my reasons, or “you will soon get tired.” Eventually, the chip grew out of the soil and made its home, big and kakaraka on my shoulder. Maybe you also have chips that have formed because your shoulder because someone was like, “why won’t you do your hair?” when you combed out your Teeny Weeny Afro. Or maybe someone else said “Auntie, this your hair is rough o”, after you spent hours twisting and untwisting it for your first twist-out. Or maybe they laughed at you when you went to work with weaving or didi, and said, “see how you look like a small girl.” I don’t know how the presence of this chip manifests in your life, but in mine, it is very much a source grief and angst about the naturalness of my hair. I unconsciously leave my house every day with a kind of fighting attitude. Sometimes, the attitude is even conscious sef: as I am overloading my hair with the latest cheap leave-in conditioner that I’ve found, and trying (and failing miserably) to carefully run my comb through it with minimum breakage, I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, imagine what other people might see when they see me— an earth mother, a furiously African woman, a hippy— and I feel this vague tinge of frustration that quickly turns into anger. Sometimes I will actually say out loud, as I am combing my hair, BY MYSELF in my room, “well that’s their problem! I refuse to bend myself because people are too lazy to see me clearly!!!!” (Yes, I am a little strange). Needless to say, if somebody actually makes a passing comment about the naturalness of my hair during the day, I am always ready to throw a verbal punch. The whole thing is a mess. I think that it’s the presence of this chip, and the itinerant fighting behavior that it sometimes creates that makes people start to say things like, “oh all these women with natural hair, their own is too much.” Like, I get what they see, because me sef I see it in myself. To be honest, I don’t know whether these chips are justified or not. But I don’t think this matters. The fact is, that there are real reasons in the world that they have taken root. In general these reasons are comments that are carelessly thrown about by the people we love or by the strangers that we could love if they would just stop throwing about careless comments about our natural hair. Lol. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if somebody (and that somebody could be you yourself) tells you that you seem to have a chip on your shoulder over this natural hair matter, or if they say “abeg your own is too much,” when you discuss the politics of natural hair, tell them that you know. And actually, the fact that your own is too much, that you have to be fighting, and getting into debates about your hair, that people must comment on it constantly, that you cannot just be with it the way that women who wear their hair differently can be with theirs is only proof that there is something wrong with the way that we relate with natural hair. It is not you that has the problem, it is all of us together.
Onyinye Olufunmi Nwangwu
Sometimes it gets me downright angry and then depressed but I try hard to push out negativity from my life. People most times see only the bad. You just have to choose to see the good in your self.
Kume Ozoro
Onyinye Olufunmi Nwangwu I love the way you put it. Your words themselves inspire self love :revolving_hearts:
Fatou Bom Bittaye
This is wot i was just talking about. People try to frustrate you as if they're the only one doing the right thing, not knowing that , being natural means accepting one's reality and "self love" (like rightly said by Kume) not to succumb to wot others want you to them be.
Dupe Oyebolu
Right, right, right. I couldn't agree more. I do try to remember that these people who gently jab us because of our hair, are often not acting in malice. Like, I think they are just doing this incredibly human thing of pushing for conformity that happens because we have to live together. It doesn't ...View More