To the thing I never understood,
To the one thing I wanted to changed about myself so desperately I burnt my scalp every 4-6 weeks for 10 years.
I want to tell you that I am sorry, sorry for laughing at jokes aimed at my ‘nappy’ hair and not saying anything to defend you, sorry for feeling obliged to explain to people that I don’t have ‘typical’ mixed race hair (what even is that?!?!) Sorry for counting down the days until I could get my re-growth fixed.
The thing is; there is no fixing you, in all your complexity, I couldn’t ask for more. More variety, more volume, more upper arm muscles!
It has taken me quite a while to truly appreciate and embrace you, and even though I believe I have started to make up for all of the years of abuse. I wanted to make it official and put it in a letter.
This is to my afro;
A question has been circling in my mind for quite some time now, how can I be ashamed of something that is mine and mine alone? The answer? I cant.
Its is a waste of time to hate something that is so beautiful and natural, something that represents not only me but my culture and history. You always have a choice and the easy one would be to conform, to try and fit into a mould that just wasn’t made for me, but instead I choose to stand out.
I didn’t realise when I decided to embrace my natural tresses that I would be faced with opposition, it made me question whether or not you were truly right for me, whether straight hair did in fact ‘suit’ me better.
Snide comments and stares followed me around and it isn’t that they have stopped, no. I have just stopped caring, stopped looking and stopped listening out for the negativity. I have learnt, with your help, what is truly important.
I am not ashamed of what grows out of my head, nor will I EVER apologise for it again! Not to overwhelmed hairdressers. Not to people standing behind me at gigs. And I promise to stop trying to convince people that honestly, it really is bra-strap length; its just the shrinkage, I swear!
At this point I would like to make a toast to the Your Hair Doesn’t Suit You Like That-ers and the Are You Sure You’re Mixed Race-ers, because if it wasn’t for them maybe I wouldnt know how special you are, maybe if I hadn’t spent so long hiding you away your blossom wouldn’t be as impressive.
You may not be as silky as others, and you definitely dont grow as fast as some I know but you’re mine; and that is all I can ask for, for that reason I wouldn’t change you. You do not require me to be thinner, taller or anything other than myself. All you ask for is care.
You have taught me to take risks, to delve further into the scary territory of not caring what others think and to come out on the other side the most confident version of myself.
You have taught me that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and that no-one can rock corn-rows like a girl with a fro.
You have taught me to love every inch of myself right down to your coiled ends and back up again to your fluffy (not fleeky) edges, because like you I am strong.
So here is to the 3/4 A B C’s and all of the in-betweens; it may take us a little longer to get ready in the morning, and wash day is most definitely a write off! Here is to our daughters growing up proud to wear their afros!
It starts with us so please believe me when I say that your hair; whether long, short, shrunk or stretched is beautiful.
And here is to my hair, I love you bro.