Dupe Oyebolu
by on October 18, 2016
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" Length is not the ultimate goal of going natural, it's a healthy hair. When you run so quickly to get a long hair, you miss out on all the fun of being the proud owner of a teeny weeny afro (TWA)." — Ama Sabeng Poku
Image: Frolicious.de
The other day, I was randomly scrolling through the timeline here on myAfroHub, when I ran into Ama Sabeng Poku’s post. They are very simple words— “length is not the ultimate goal”—but in my mind they caused this quietly revolutionary shift. Because, even though I am a forever “love your hair the way it is” champion, somewhere in the depths of my being I hold this belief that if my hair does not grow long, then I haven’t quite done this natural hair thing right.
In September of 2015, I was about 3 years and 3 months into being natural, and I was tired. It’s interesting though, because I had come a long way from my early days of being natural and treating my hair unkindly. Don’t get me wrong o, I still wasn’t great at caring for my hair, but I had worked out a convenient system of having it permanently tucked away in braids. When it was not in braids, I had something of a system of keeping it moisturized with the cheapest leave-in that I could find, for a long time it was Cantu. But, most days, I used too much and ended up going about the world with clumps of white product for half the day.
So like, yeah, my moisturizing system wasn’t perfect, but it was a system. Same with my styling system. On occasion, I would get impatient during styling, and pull at the parts at the middle of my head (which for me is the most dense, and most given-to-shrinkage-and-breakage part of my hair) with excessive vigor, or comb without product. I also was bad at figuring out the right degree of wetness for styling. When it was super wet, it didn't stretch well, and I needed a good amount of stretchfor the styles that I was aspiring to (because your girl did not know how to wait for her hair to reach the appropriate length. Nope. Patience? What is that?). When it was dry the possibility of breakage multiplied exponentially. So I usually settled for this strange in-between dampness, that I achieved by dumping so much product in the hair that it had little hope for drying.:frowning:. I know, yeah the situation was something of a mess. But again, it was sha trying to work. Until I got tired in September of 2015 and cut it.
Before now, i.e. before reading Ama Sabeng Poku’s post, I had sort of convinced myself that the reason that I cut my hair was that I was tired of all of these longwinded maintenance practices. I had to focus on school, and I didn’t have time to keep up with my hair. And I was tired and bored of having braids in. Plus they were killing my edges. All of these things were true in varying degrees. But I think something that was just as true, perhaps what was most true about my motivations for cutting my hair again was that I was tired of not having long hair.
Somewhere in the back of my head, I had this idea running around those first three years that I had been natural, I was in limbo. Like all of those three years in themselves didn’t mean anything because I was looking for some forever-in-the-distant-day moment when my hair would be long. I was always on my way somewhere, the land of luscious long hair to be exact, and it obscured my capacity to be present with my hair as it was. Like, I’m thinking about it more and more now, and realizing that I loved my hair (and treated it kindly) for what it could be rather than what it was. And this is the reprimand what I hear most clearly in Ama Sabeng Poku’s words. It’s not about ruling out hope that the hair will grow. It is about a commitment to hair-love that doesn’t depend on what the hair might be. This means loving it when it’s cute and we are pleased with how nicely it frames our faces, and also loving it when the only hope we see for going out that day is in keeping it in a scarf. It’s that thing that people sometimes say— “the journey is the destination.”
Sage Words From The Internets!
Image Source: Frolicious.de
There’s a poem called “Speech To The Young: Speech To The Progress-Toward,” by Gwendolyn Brooks, an black/African American woman who lived between 1917 and 2000. When I was having all these realizations because of Ama Sabeng Poku’s post, its last lines came to mind. They carry the wisdom of this idea of stepping away from persistent longing for some glorious future, and instead living our lives (or in this case living in our bodies and with our hair) fully as they are in the moment:
Live not for the praises won,
Live not for the end of the song,
Live in the along.
— Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks, back in the day!
PS— I have to say before I exit, thank you so so much Ama Sabeng Poku for writing that post, it has been such a blessing!
Kume Ozoro
Dupe Oyebolu, this is a really good one :fist:
Dupe Oyebolu
Thanks Kume! Also, thanks to Ama Sabeng!— again. :smiley:
Nana Ama
:heart_eyes:
Nma Joy David
@Dupe oyebolu this is a nice piece. ..A healthy TWA/Short natural hair is always beautiful irrespective of the length; yea! We all do want and yearn for long hair, but while we still hoping for that, we can rock our TWA in different styles that we cannot achieve when the long hair eventually comes...View more
Kume Ozoro
Nice one Nma Joy David :thumbsup:
Onyinye Olufunmi Nwangwu
Very nice write up
Dupe Oyebolu
Thank you Onyinye!