Rocking My AfroCorns

AfroGirlIt was one evening after work when my friend and I decided to hit the town before calling it a night. I feel the need to clarify that it (hitting the town) did not involve twilighting of any sort, just two girls out catching up and ranting about life in general. A couple of days before that I had undone my braids and was rocking two ginormous cornrows in my natural hair. I did this quite proudly. When your hair grows at snail’s pace like mine does, when it can finally be braided into two cornrows, it is a moment to celebrate people! That entire week that I wore my hair in cornrows, I was all smiles. Like I’d won the lottery and quit my job. I felt like an African model. You should have seen my photogenic postures and runway walk. Like a shorter version of Lupita Nyong’o or that beautiful Sudanese model who won Miss World last year. Ok fine, Rolene Strauss a South African model won miss world last year but let’s face it, she does not look anything like a black girl so it may be a little tough to picture me and my afro with her as the comparison. But had a Sudanese girl won Miss World, imagine just how exquisite she would have had to be to outdo all those gorgeous women, the likes of Rolene Strauss and Megan Young, Miss World 2013. Well that is precisely how gorgeous I felt. I was confident I would have been booked on the spot had I run into a model agent that very day, or so I preferred to imagine. Therefore I was in high spirits. You could have asked me for my credit card and PIN number and I would have eagerly handed it over to you while kissing both your cheeks as you stared back at me in unreserved bewilderment.
Anyway, my dear friend repeatedly patted my hair in awe calling me ‘brave’. Brave! Brave for daring to leave the house in my natural hair. I suppose she wondered why I did not own a wig. I have always taken pride in being a cheapo (in my defense I like to know where my every penny goes), something a lot of my friends laugh at me about. So my friend probably decided I could not afford some flowy Brazilian hair. Whatever her thoughts on my reasoning to terrify the human population with my uncontrollable African hair, she did not share them with me. But she swore she would never do what I’d done. I mean, how could anyone in their right mind? She proudly announced that only two people have seen her natural hair-ever! She also very humorously pointed out that wearing my hair as I did reminded her of housemaids back home. Yikes! Imagine how I felt. The air balloon I had been happily floating on had instantly been poked and was plummeting at an alarming speed. I became a bit defensive. Did she even know how much energy it took to build the amount of confidence that I had mastered? And the time investment I’d put into being this hot natural haired fairly confident African princess? For the first few seconds my confidence was punctured and I wanted to scream or cry, maybe both. But what do housemaids look like anyway? Maybe that is what I should have asked but I didn’t. I was too busy falling apart at the time. I wish I could take back my reaction. Not that I punched her in the chest or anything but I got defensive. I shouldn’t have. I know she wasn’t trying to be mean or to hurt my feelings. That was simply her opinion and I should have taken it as a teaching opportunity. I should have taken that moment to remind her that unless we’re proud of who we are, we cannot command respect from others. Look at Lupita Nyong’o my Kenyan sister. She embraces herself in a manner that is so refreshing. Something that I too need to get on board with, and quick. We cannot expect others to understand us as we are and to accept us unless we do it first.
When I was younger, like many young girls and women, I was very self-conscious about my natural hair. I would never have undone my hair unless I had already booked a hair appointment to have new braids done, or relax it and so on. I would not admit it to myself that I was embarrassed to rock my natural look, but I was. Why? I didn’t know why. Hair was supposed to look a certain way. It was supposed to be long and soft or braided. And I went to great extents to make sure that my hair met this ridiculously unrealistic expectations. It’s sad that a lot of girls still choose to assimilate so much that they’ll do anything for softer longer hair.
As I mentioned in my previous article, I’ve grown so much into my own self. And growing out of this craze is one self-development I am very proud to share. My hair is dark, it’s kinky and it’s also not that long. It is tough to comb, believe me I’ve broken way too many combs. It’s different from every other girl’s hair. And I’ve had to study it in order to understand what works for my hair and what doesn’t. Like how our bodies are different and our cultures and our foods. So instead of burning it with chemicals to soften it, to ‘make it manageable’, we should learn to understand our hair as it is. Study it, and nurture it and be proud of what you have.
So the take away here is; let’s celebrate our hair. I’ve decided to create an avenue for discussion. I want to hear about your good and your bad hair days and your journey to healthier stronger natural hair. I know it’s a difficult sometimes even painful and very, ve..e..ery slow process. Listening to the challenges of others draws us to the normalcy of the situation. And other times we get insights from the experiences of others. It’s a learning curve and we can laugh about the challenges and celebrate our victories as our Afros continue to blossom becoming stronger and healthier and yes, lengthier!

2 thoughts on “Rocking My AfroCorns”

  1. Thanks Valerie for sharing this piece! (At first, I was like, “why am I seeing this now?”). I know it can be quite a journey for some of us accepting our natural hair given the history or societal expectations on how to present our hair. For the most part I have embraced my natural hair and have become even more carefree with it by doing braid outs and corn rows. I know that it can be difficult to rock these styles day in and day out, given the texture of our hair and its proneness to break. Regular moisturizing is key to preventing breakage and low manipulation styles…I have found that braid extentions don’t work for me as I like to try different styles and my scalp tends to protest every time I try them so I’m left with my tools and hair to make it work. I’m driven more by the desire to have fun with my hair and do whatever I want with it. At the end of the day, I’m like “it’s only hair so…?” It will break and grow back no matter how long takes. So rocking it natural just adds that extra confidence as it involves me accepting and appreciating my roots, and being free to be me!

    1. I love to hear when us ladies accept who we are and embrace it. I really think we just need more education on how to handle our kink :P. I see ladies rocking their naturals with braid outs like you said and it’s beautiful. I always want to run up to them and give them a high five-that would be creepy ha ha. But yeah it’s about confidence and the willingness to try out new things.

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