Friday, January 2, 2015

Black Hair Can't Grow

Black hair can’t grow. For simplicity, let’s assume that “black” equals tightly coiled,“wooly,” afro-like hair.

This is by far one of the biggest myths out there.

My hair at its longest was 16in. (41 cm.), & it reached passed my back bra strap.

Oh, and I’m Black. African. Nigerian, to be precise. I'm 100% Black, Nigerian with tightly coiled, “wooly,” afro-like hair (that’s clarification for those who want to claim that some Nigerians are mixed with other races, which may be true, but I'm not. I'm all Black, baby!)


During my university years, my close friends dubbed me with the nickname Many Hair because of my long and thick afro halo that I used to wear around campus. Picture a Boondocks character with tall, skinny legs; that was me. My hair attracted so much attention that on one occasion, I nearly felt like slouching in my seat to allow the poor girl behind me to see the board during Chemistry class. People often stared as I strolled passed, wondering silently—and in the case of some bold individuals, aloud—what would possess me to wear my natural hair out, and whether it was all mine.

 "How did you get your hair so long?" I’d often get asked.
I used to shrug my shoulders, because quite frankly, I didn't know--my mama did my hair! Most of the time growing up I wore my hair in box braids (with hair extensions--"Bob Marley" as my sister and I used to call it). In my final years of university the “natural hair movement” was reborn, which encourages Black women to embrace their natural texture (chemical-relaxer-free), to nurture it and learn how to style it. Now we’ve gotten used to seeing Black women rocking all kinds of curls and coils. And though my hair’s “afro-ness” is still quite shocking to some, most people are more intrigued by its length than anything else.

Let’s quickly get back to that “Black hair can’t grow” myth. It’s not only myth, it’s a gimmick. Millions of companies around the world play on (and make mega bucks from) the notion that Black hair cannot grow passed shoulder length; that Black hair's "wooly" nature needs to be relaxed into straight silkiness, and that Black hair is simply unmanageable. As a result we, Black women, buy hundreds of ounces of hair extensions, chemical relaxers, wigs, and "magic" products to add length, volume, and bounce (sadly, in vain sometimes) to our hair, rather than truly discovering the beauty of our own our crown and glory (our hair).

Growing up, I wasn’t that interested in how or what was being done to my tresses. Granted, I had always been proud of it, but I never actually took time to take care of it by myself. It wasn't until I entered university that I really took ownership of my hair and discovered its true beauty and potential for growth.

Black hair CAN grow.

In 2009 I began my healthy hair journey, shortly after a horrific session at the beauty salon where a scissors-happy stylist cut off way more hair than I had requested for what was supposed to be a trim. My ultimate goal on this journey is to learn how to love my hair, even on its bad days, and how to achieve thick, healthy waist-length hair. Yes, I said it! I was able to grow my hair from chin-length to bra strap length; why stop now?