Much Ado About Hair (The Natural Hair Debate)

So as per usual on Sunday night, I’m trying to be all proactive and decide what to wear to work tomorrow. Generally I’m quite a simple being, some trousers and a silk shirt usually do me just fine, the key decision is about what on earth I’m going to do with my hair. You see, about a year ago, I joined the league of ‘naturalistas’ and that has been an interesting journey in itself but I wouldn’t go too much into it. I’m sure as soon as I said that a good number of you rolled your eyes and thought to yourselves “And another one bites the dust.” The natural hair movement has really taken root among Nigerian girls, no pun intended. These days almost every other person you talk to is either completely natural, thinking of going natural or in a transitioning phase. Even those that still perm their hair have started feeling more comfortable about wearing their own hair but obviously, as many people as there are embracing the natural hair movement there are people that just don’t get it. This post is not really to try and convince anyone one way or the other, in fact, the theme of this post is “It’s your hair, do whatever the hell you want with it!”

Now for the guys reading, don’t run away just yet. Sit tight, y’all have a part to play in this. When I first started working in Lagos I would wear my hair in it’s natural state in various buns, using head scarves and bands to accesorise and I honestly thought I looked fine. Thanks to my mother, my self esteem remains at decent levels, I know she would tell me if I was about to leave the house looking like a hot mess. But after about two weeks at work, people got a bit more comfortable with me and I started getting all sorts of questions and statements about my hair, ranging from “Don’t you have enough money to ‘make’ your hair?” to “I really think you should relax it, you don’t look fine like this.” One of the funniest ones I got was “Are you deeper life? Because I noticed you fix nails and wear make-up but you don’t ‘make’ your hair” Can you tell that I hate it when people talk to me about ‘making’ my hair? I feel like that describes what Iya Basira under the bridge does, not the salon that I pay too much money for. Don’t even get me started on when they thought I had dreads because my hair was twisted. All these statements were met with a simple smile and a “No, I just like my hair like this.” Of course there were many puzzled looks and I was the object of office gossip for a while but I didn’t really care. Again, it’s my hair! I’d do whatever the hell I want with it. Imagine my surprise when they more or less threw a party for me the time I came in with my hair braided, everyone was so damn excited you’d have thought that they were going to receive ten naira each for every braid on my head.

But of course, Nigerians are never to be satisfied and the new comments started coming through, granted they were not as brutal as the ones with my natural hair but now I’ve been asked “Why are they so long? You want all the men to be looking at your bum bum?” I just can’t deal. The funny thing about my office is that it’s not even one of those places where every girl is trying to rock Eurasian or Aunty Funmi or Peruvian hair, after all they don’t want their hair too long so that men would not be looking at their bum bums. Because babes with long hair, whether braids or weaves are clearly nothing more than man eaters right? I mean, some men don’t even like it when women have all that plenty hair that reaches their bums. Everyone has a personal preference and so what I’m wondering is, why does my personal preference affect others so much? Especially in the workplace it seems. Is it boredom? I know a lot of people are in unfulfilling jobs, or is it just that Nigerians like to do ‘aproko’ and feel the need to comment on everything they see? I mean, if it’s not affecting my standard or work or your standard of living, why do you really care though? And why is natural hair seen as something that is unkempt and needs straightening or perming?

I feel like if I started trying to answer all my “why’s” we’d be here all day. My question today is really quite straight-forward and it’s this, Ladies do you have a problem with the way natural girls wear their hair to work? And if you’re natural what’s the most hilarious or rude comment you’ve ever received. And guys, has a girls hairstyle ever been the reason you decided not to approach her? Are you for or against this natural revolution that seems to be taking over?

Written by Reni J