Love & Sex Magazine

Does Your Hair Define You?

By Miz_odeph


I didn’t start thinking so much about hair until I cut mine off.

Hair to me was that annoying relative you had to tolerate and feed because it is expected of you by Jesus and the society. By any standard, I suppose I had “good” hair. It grew thick, it responded to chemical manipulation with graceful surrender, and when coloured, cut and framed I looked fairly impressive. Sometimes I would even take myself more seriously than usual.

Since then, every time I walk into a beauty shop and see the throngs of women in various stages of commerce I imagine what a lucrative industry it is.  I should think that the proceeds from one Saturday in the hair industry in Nairobi alone are potent enough to feed an entire village for a month.

After I cut off my hair, it seemed like I placed a giant neon sign on my forehead, announcing the re-birth of a “real African” that had been in hibernation.  People looked at me differently. It was almost like they expected me to throw away my heels, strap on a pair of tire made sandals, roll up my head in a flowery bun and break into an Eryka Badu song.  Perhaps they were waiting for me to drop my first name and use only my middle and last name, and spend copious amounts of time pouring over “The River and the Source” looking for the Luo girl that has been swallowed up by the urban jungle that is Nairobi.  Who knows? Maybe with my hair cropped lower, I would finally break the curse that has hitherto prevented me from being able to make a chapatti that is not strong enough to build a house. Or a pyramid that would become a tenth wonder of the world?

What exactly makes you a true “African Woman”?  Who is it that is allowed to write the script of our lives on this earth and when did they come up with these inflexible ideals?

Based on the profitable business of hair products, be they natural, manmade, horse robbed, or human extracted women do attach quite an exceptional amount of importance to the crown on their heads.

Does having straighter, sleeker, silkier hair bought or gifted by your genes make you a better employee or friend or mother? I wonder if embracing my natural kinks and coils, and the process of fighting with my comb each morning means I will be less engaging, less productive and less worthy as I go about my day.

I think that every woman, regardless of her hair choices needs to remember that before anything else, she is first and foremost a human being. She will still struggle with challenges like finding the perfect black dress for a date. She will still fall in love with frogs and princes alike. Should she find this prince, he will not care about the knots or coils in her hair, but more about her laugh, or the twinkle in her eyes when she watches her favorite comedian. He will remember her perfume, her terrible chapatti making skills (yes this is a real problem for me), and how she treats other human beings.

It does not matter how much money has gone into your coif. You are not a terrible African because you chose not to spend an hour trying to sort out tangles in your hair. You are exercising free will. You are African because you were born in Africa.  Even if you acquired a lovely accent from hours of watching television, or rubbing shoulders with those who do not know what a rain puddle can do to a pedestrian on a random Monday morning, you are African because your parents are African.

Since we are on the subject of hair and its definitions about you, these are a few things your hair should not do:

  • It should not cost more than a small car. You are NOT Beyonce.
  • It should not tempt any birds to seek a habitat in, near, or around it.
  • It should not smell like anything other than hair product.
  • It should not keep you awake at night.
  • It should not scare little children.
  • It should not have startling, bright colours that might confuse your enemies.
  • It should not confuse squirrels and other rodents into believing that they have found their long lost cousins.
  • It should not look like it stepped out of a movie called, “How I scared your father into a stroke.”


Hair should be like the supporting cast in the movie of your life, adding spices but not taking anything away from who you are.  No matter how you choose to have it done. In the end, your personality cannot be saved by anything except your own heart no matter how cliché that sounds.

Originally written for The Weekend Star 


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