Inwele Zakhe. HerStory.

The best part of a natural hair journey is the knowledge you get about yourself. You examine your own perceptions of beauty. You find your own beauty inside, and while you enjoy compliments (who doesn’t?) your need and desire for external validation decrease dramatically. You are a black woman, and like your hair you reach outward and upward, embracing the world and your place in it. Natural hair perhaps more than anything else is the one thing that tells the world who you are and what you’re about, and thus loving your natural hair becomes a political statement about personal growth that the whole world can read.

 The woman who relaxes her hair is saying something about herself and her world. So too the woman with a brush cut. And the one with dreadlocks. Yes it’s just hair, yet every single black woman, regardless of how she wears it, has a story about and an emotional connection to her hair and to the story it tells about her. 

In 2014 Reuters reported that Africans spend US$7bn annually on wigs and weaves. Hair matters, it matters a great deal. Whether it’s horse hair, 100% synthetic hair, or 100% human hair; whether its yours because it grows out of your scalp or yours because you paid for it, hair matter, and it matters a lot. Whether you hate it or love it, the bottom line is that yes it’s just hair, and yes it matters. 

I met a beautiful woman last week. Gorgeous, drop-dead gorgeous. Her hair is cut very low, and she is so comfortable in her skin that her self-love is an aura around her, beautiful and authentic. Her story around hair and beauty is about how much she loves herself, because every woman has a story about hair and beauty whether or not they recognise it as such. We had a brief chat about hair, and I was so happy to meet a black woman who has accepted her natural beauty and fallen in love with it. Her skin is beautiful: clear, not a blemish or pimple in sight, and glowy with melanin and pure joy. Looking at her was such a pleasure; she may have caught me staring, gazing rather, when I sat down to lunch with her. I hope not. I may even have been gushy in her presence. My point is, hair is just hair but it’s also much, much more than that. You see, once you love and accept your hair as it is, and accept what it can and can’t do, you’re that much closer to true self-love and from there, mental emancipation follows naturally. You cannot love yourself and choose bondage, but perhaps that deserves its own post. The woman I’m talking about encapsulates black beauty so perfectly, her love for herself and how she expresses that in her self presentation is inspiring and a delight to witness. She’s winning all day, because she has set her own standard of beauty and is living up to it, regardless of what anybody else might say. 

There’s a reason why the coloniser and the slaver set standards of beauty that taught black people to hate our melanin and the coils and kinks in our hair. The reason is that once a black woman learns self-love, she becomes unstoppable. Worldwide black women are waking up, one melanated queen at a time, and the world was never ready. #staywoke

We’re coming, and we’re coming for everything. Every. Thing. 

#squadsalute #femrising


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